Wednesday, April 13, 2011

North Carolina Senate Pardons Governor Posthumously

"Today we correct a 140-year-old wrong by officially pardoning Gov. Holden for his actions which were both legally and morally correct."
Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, one of the primary sponsors of the bipartisan resolution

The North Carolina State Senate, meeting in the old Capitol building where it hasn't met regularly in 48 years, voted 48-0 in favor of pardoning Holden, who was impeached in 1870 by the House and convicted by the Senate at the close of a seven-week trial a few months later. The vote was delayed three weeks ago in part because some questioned whether Governor William Woods Holden was worthy of a pardon.  
"This Legislature created a grave injustice by impeaching a man, not because of some high crimes, but solely because he was doing the job that lived up to the oath that he took to be governor, to protect all the citizens of this state," said Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, another sponsor.

Holden was the first governor removed from office in the United States, the result, according to contemporary historians, of a Democratic-led Legislature bent on harming the Republican for calling out a militia to quell an insurrection in two Piedmont counties that resulted in the killings of white and black citizens.

Speakers on Tuesday said it was a proud moment for North Carolina citizens — black and white, Democrats and Republicans — to unify behind absolving a governor who acted to protect newly freed slaves.

"We have the sons and daughters of former slave owners and the sons and daughters of former slaves coming together to chart a course for North Carolina," said Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham.

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