Joint Committee on Reconstruction
Senator Bedford Brown
North Carolina Majority Against Secession in 1860

WASHINGTON, D. C. March 28, 1866.
Bedford Brown sworn and examined.
By Mr. HOWARD: (Mr. JACOB M. HOWARD, (of Michigan,) United States Senate.)

Question. Where do you reside?
Answer. In Caswell county, North Carolina.

Question. Are you a native of North Carolina?
Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What is your age?
Answer. I am in my seventy-first year.

Question. What public positions have you held since you have been a citizen of North Carolina?
Answer. I was a member of the legislature of our State, speaker of the senate at one time, then a member of the Senate of the United States for eleven or twelve years.

Question. Since you retired from the Senate have you held public office in North Carolina?
Answer. Yes, sir; in the legislature of the State.

Question. Have you held any judicial position?
Answer. None, sir.

Question. Have you resided in North Carolina during the late rebellion?
Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. How extensive is your acquaintance with the state of public feeling among the people of North Carolina in reference to the war, its causes, and its results?
Answer. It is pretty general. I was a member of the State senate when the subject was first brought under consideration in 1860.

Question. Have you taken any personal part in the war against the United States?
Answer. None, voluntarily. I was a member of the State senate for some years. After the war commenced I declined being a candidate; I desired to take no part in it; but my constituents insisted on my going back, although I positively declined. I was a member of the convention of 1861 which passed the ordinance of secession, but was sent there contrary to my will. I was a candidate in my county in the election ordered after South Carolina had seceded. I took most decided ground against secession and carried my county. I carried my county by a vote of three to one and was elected a member of the convention, but the people of the State decided, by a majority, that there should be no convention. When the second convention was ordered I declined being a candidate; I wished to have no part in it; but my constituents sent me against my will.

Question. You have then been all along a non-secessionist in principle?
Answer. Always. There has not been an hour in my life that I did not regard it as the greatest political calamity that could befall the people of any country.

Question. How do the masses of the people of North Carolina now feel in regard to the government of the United States - friendly, unfriendly, or indifferent?
Answer. There was a most overwhelming majority of the people of North Carolina loyal to the United States government before secession took place. I would say that from two-thirds to three-fourths of the people of North Carolina were utterly opposed to secession.

Question. Can you give the result of the first vote upon that subject?
Answer. I think there were sixty-odd thousand cast for Union delegates in the respective counties for the first convention, and perhaps thirty thousand for secession delegates.

Question. Can you give the vote on the second occasion?
Answer. I know of no direct popular vote on the subject after the first; but the election of Governor Vance indicated that there was still a Union majority in the State even after the war commenced. He was run as a Union candidate, and was elected by a decided majority over his secession opponent.

Question. In what year was that?
Answer. I thnk in 1862 or 1863; probably in 1862. I think he was elected by between thirty and forty thousand majority. It is due to truth to say that Governor Vance afterwards became a war man, but he was voted for at the first election as one who was in favor of pacification and Union.

Question. Was he, when first voted for, understood to be a Union man; that is, a man supporting the government of the United States and opposed to secession and rebellion?
Answer. He was originally very much opposed to secession, though he went into the army as most men did, under the peculiar circumstances. When he was first voted for as governor it was supposed his proclivities were still for the Union, running as he did against and beating a secession opponent by thirty-odd thousand majority.

Question. Can you state any reasons why Governor Vance afterwards became a supporter of the rebellion against the United States?
Answer. If I did it would be mere conjecture, and perhaps it would not be proper to indulge in that. I have every confidence that Governor Vance accepts in good faith the situation and will prove a loyal citizen to the government of the United States.

Question. I ask you again to state how the mass of the people of North Carolina feel towards the government of the United States?
Answer. The masses of the people, I believe, at the time of General Lee's surrender, were more gratified than otherwise because they saw that the result was inevitable, and a great many of them were for peace and attached sincerely to the federal Union, and believed there was no safety out of the Union. They were gratified that the thing had been settled. They wanted it settled in some way, for they had been exceedingly harassed during the war, which was commenced against their consent in the first instance. Of late, however, it is due to truth to state that, from various circumstances, they have come almost to despair. Perhaps it is in part from the loss of their slave property, though I think they were prepared to acquiesce in that. I think it is chiefly from their long delay in being admitted to an equal participation in the Union. It has produced a feeling of discontent even among Union men. My belief is that if they could be prefectly sure that with these constitutional amendments which have been adoped, accepting the condition of things as they are now, within a reasonable time they would be admitted to political equality and to equal privileges with the other States, there would be a general feeling favorable to the federal Union. The great mass of them are exceedingly anxious to have their relations between the State and the federal government restored.

Question. Is there not a large proportion of these people who dislike and contemn the government of the United States?
Answer. There are a certain number of reckless unscrupulous men there, as everywhere in the country, who, I believe, would be willing for anything almost. For instance, some few persons would perhaps be gratified by a foreign war, but the great mass of the people of North Carolina, even including the secessionists, although they have been utterly opposed to me, and I opposed to them, yet I think a majority of the secessionists are exceedingly anxious for peace and quiet, perfectly willing to live under the laws of the United States, provided they can have political equality with the other States accorded to them. I think an overwhelming majority of the mass of the people of the State of North Carolina are prefectly willing to acquiesce in the laws of the United States on these conditions. I will go further and say, that I think the longer it is procrastinated the worse that feeling of discontent will become. I may remark that I have heard many persons say that if there was any attempt at an outbreak against the government of the United States, they would not do as they did at first - allow them to get complete military control - but would seize the opportunity to vindicate themselves against these men immediately.


Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1866, Virginia - North Carolina - South Carolina, pages 261-262.