Secession Leader Weldon Edwards

Edwards with his great nephew. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

Edwards with his great nephew. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

On January 25, 1788, Weldon Edwards was born in Northampton County. Though not as ambitious or well-known as many contemporaries, the “venerable Democrat” was a major player on the stage of 19th century North Carolina politics. His political career extended from the close of the War of 1812 to the Reconstruction era.

After two terms in the state House, the 28-year-old Edwards succeeded his kinsman Nathaniel Macon in his U.S. House seat. After his retirement from the Congress in 1827, Edwards represented Warren County in the state Senate for ten terms. In 1835, he served in the state Constitutional Convention.

An outspoken advocate of Southern nationalism, Edwards was elected as president of the Secession Convention meeting in Raleigh in May 1861. He presided over that body four times, through May 1862. Edwards “hailed with delight the prospect of separation from the Northern people, whom he despised,” according to historian Samuel A. Ashe.

Edward’s passion was his Warren County plantation, “Poplar Mount.” There he experimented with scientific agriculture, breeding livestock and cultivating tobacco. He died and was buried at “Poplar Mount” at age 85. Today, his house is gone but outbuildings, trees and the grave remain.

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