“General” Julian Carr and Tobacco in Durham

Image from the N.C. Museum of History

Image from the N.C. Museum of History

On October 13, 1845, tobacco magnate Julian S. Carr was born in Chapel Hill.  After serving in the Confederate cavalry and returning to a hometown largely in decline, Carr pursued business interests in nearby Durham. In 1870, he joined two partners there in the manufacture of Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco. Owing to Carr’s marketing skills, the brand and its hometown became internationally famous. Tobacco was only the first of his successful businesses, which also included banking and textiles.

Carr’s interests extended well beyond business. A generous philanthropist, he supported the education of a number individuals, provided the funds for a dormitory at UNC and helped establish Trinity College, the forerunner to Duke. As a politician, he was less successful; he failed in runs for the governorship and the U.S. Senate mostly because he refused to play hardball.

Despite his political failings, Carr was one of the most popular North Carolinians of his era. He was often called General Carr, and following the death of his wife Nannie in 1915, he was courted heavily. He often signed notes to female admirers as “Your Sweetheart General.”

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