Congressional Rivals Shoot It Out

On November 5, 1827, Congressman Samuel Price Carson shot Robert Brank Vance, his predecessor in the House and uncle of Civil War-era Governor Zebulon Vance.

Early that morning, the two engaged in a duel just south of the North Carolina-South Carolina border and the present-day Tuxedo community in Henderson County. Dueling adhered closely to an accepted body of rules, by which gentlemen walked 10 paces, turned and fired upon one another.

Vance, who died the next day, was born in Buncombe County and was elected to Congress in 1823. Carson was born in Pleasant Gardens near Marion. He was elected to Congress in 1825, forcing Vance into an unwanted early retirement. Vance ran for election again in 1827. It was a bitter campaign during which Vance accused Carson’s father of turning Tory during the Revolutionary War and called Carson a coward in his hometown. Carson held his temper until after the election, which he won.

Carson then challenged Vance to a duel. Vance was buried in his family cemetery on Reems Creek.  Carson moved to Texas and was appointed Secretary of State there in September 1836. He died two years later.

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