|William Richardson Davie|
Founding Father of the United States
Colonel, Continental Army
Brigadier General, US Army
North Carolina House of Commons
Governor of North Carolina
Peace Commissioner to France
(Editor's Note - For a change of pace this winter we will do profiles of some of the Federalists who helped create this great nation. They gave us Liberty. But would they even recognize the centralized authoritarian and socialistic Big Brother nation that calls itself the United States?)
William Richardson Davie (June 20, 1756 – November 29, 1820) was a military officer and the tenth Governor of North Carolina from 1798 to 1799, as well as one of the most important men involved in the founding of the University of North Carolina.
He was a member of the Federalist Party and may be considered a "Founding Father of the United States."
Davie inherited 150 acres of land and a large library from his uncle. Davie studied at Queen's Museum, later Liberty Hall, in Charlotte, then matriculated to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), from which he graduated with honors in 1776.
After leaving New Jersey, Davie began to study law in North Carolina. In December 1778, Davie left Salisbury to join 1,200 militiamen led by Brigadier General Allen Jones of Northampton County, NC. Jones's force advanced toward Charleston, South Carolina, with intentions to aid the port city as it prepared its defenses against possible British assault. That threat receded, so Davie and the rest of Jones's men returned to North Carolina after marching as far south as Camden, South Carolina.
Davie resumed his studies in Salisbury, but in the spring of 1779, he closed his law books again to reenter military service. This time, though, Davie did not volunteer for an existing force; he helped to raise and train a local cavalry troop. For his work in forming "a Company of Horse in the District of Salisbury," he received a lieutenant's commission in April from North Carolina Governor Richard Caswell.
|General Casimir Pulaski|
Davie served under the Polish nobleman who
was "The Father of American Cavalry".
Davie did not remain in that junior rank for long. In May 1779, he and his company were attached to the legion of General Casimir Pułaski, who earlier in the year had moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina to help bolster American positions in and around Charleston. Promoted to the rank of major under Pulaski, Davie assumed command of a brigade of cavalry. On June 20, 1779, just two days shy of his twenty-third birthday, Davie led a charge against British forces at the Battle of Stono Ferry outside Charleston. He suffered a serious wound to his thigh in that engagement, fell from his horse, and narrowly escaped capture.
While convalescing from his injuries, Davie resumed his legal studies back in Salisbury. Soon he completed or "stood" his examinations and in November 1779 obtained a license to practice law in South Carolina. In the late spring and summer of the following year, Davie, now fully recovered, again formed an independent company of cavalry. He led that mounted force in several actions during the summer of 1780.
At the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780 the Americans were soundly defeated. What remained of the army fell back into North Carolina. Davie narrowly missed the battle. Instead of retreating north with the remnants of the American army, Davie moved south towards the enemy and Camden to recover supply wagons and gather intelligence on enemy movements.
|Into the Hornet's Nest |
The British Legion at the Battle of Charlotte
In the time between Camden and the Battle of Kings Mountain, in October 1780, Davie's cavalry was the only unbroken corps between the British army and what was left of the Continental forces.
Davie's most audacious action as a cavalry officer came at the Battle of Charlotte on September, 26, 1780. Ordered to cover the American army retreat and hinder the British invasion of North Carolina, Davie, now a colonel, with only 150 of his mounted militia set up defense in what was then the small village of Charlotte, North Carolina to hold off 2,000 British and Loyalist troops.
He dismounted several of his men and had them take station behind a stone wall at the summit of a hill in the center of town. Other dismounted soldiers where scattered on the flanks with a reserve of cavalry. At about noon, the British army under General Lord Cornwallis appeared. Cornwallis' forces numbered at least 2,000 Redcoats and loyalists. After withstanding three charges of British cavalry and infantry moving on his right flank, Davie and his men retreated northward.
Cornwallis subsequently occupied Charlotte, but he remained there less than two weeks, withdrawing his forces from the "hornets nest" after receiving news of the defeat of Loyalist forces by back country militia at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780. As Cornwallis's army marched back toward South Carolina, Davie directed his men to shadow and skirmish with enemy units and to disrupt and intercept their communications.
|Davie represented North Carolina at the Constitutional Convention.|
After the war, Davie rose to prominence in North Carolina as a traveling circuit court lawyer and orator. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons on multiple occasions from 1786 through 1798. Davie sponsored the bill that chartered the University of North Carolina. Davie laid the cornerstone of the university in October 1793 in a full Masonic ceremony
He served as a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. At the Convention Davie spoke during the debate on Impeachment for the Executive:
-William Richardson Davie, as recorded in Madison's Notes on the Convention
After the Convention he argued for its passage at the North Carolina State Conventions in 1788 and 1789.
Davie served as Grand Master of the North Carolina Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons from 1792 to 1798.
Davie was elected Federalist Governor of North Carolina in 1798. During his administration, the state settled boundary disputes with South Carolina and Tennessee to the west. He resigned as the state's chief executive when President John Adams enlisted him in 1799 to serve on a peace commission to France, where bilateral negotiations resulted in the Convention of 1800.
Davie remained active in the state militia and in the newly-formed United States Army. He served in the state militia during the 1797 crisis with France (immediately preceding the Quasi-War) and was appointed brigadier general in the Army by President Adams.
In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Davie to negotiate a treaty with North Carolina’s remaining Tuscarora Indians. The agreement obligated the federal government to collect rent on Tuscarora land on behalf of the tribe until July 12, 1916, at which time the Tuscarora would relinquish their title to the state.
After his return to North Carolina, Davie continued to be active in Federalist politics. He ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in the 1804 election. After his unsuccessful run for the House of Representatives Davie retired from public life to his estate, Tivoli, in South Carolina.
During the War of 1812, Davie served in the army as well, but declined an offer from President James Madison to command the American forces.
Davie died at his Tivoli estate in 1820. He was preceded in death by his wife, the former Sarah Jones, whom he married in 1782.
|Davie is buried at Riverside, Lancaster County, South Carolina.|
(North Carolina History) (Stone Fort Consulting)
(William Richardson Davie) (Find a Grave)
The Federalist Party was the first American political party. The Federalists operated from the early 1790s to 1816, the era of the First Party System. Remnants of the Party lasted into the late 1820s. The Federalists totally controlled the Federal government until 1801.
The party was formed by Alexander Hamilton, who, during George Washington's first term, built a network of supporters, largely urban bankers and businessmen, to support his Conservative fiscal policies. These supporters grew into the Federalist Party committed to a fiscally sound and nationalistic government. The United States' only Federalist President was John Adams; although George Washington was broadly sympathetic to the Federalist program, he remained an independent his entire presidency.
Read some profiles of the great Federalist leaders who helped build a free United States.
THE FEDERALIST - General Thomas Pinckney
THE FEDERALIST - Josiah Quincy III - Federalist Patriot
THE FEDERALIST - Robert Goodloe Harper - "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."
THE FEDERALIST - Edmund Randolph - Founding Father
THE FEDERALIST - Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge - George Washington's Spy
THE FEDERALIST - Colonel John Hoskins Stone
THE FEDERALIST - Revolutionary War General Henry Lee
THE FEDERALIST - John Quincy Adams
THE FEDERALIST - Thomas Jefferson and political attack ads