Governor Holden’s impeachment is a terrific portrait in reviewing Reconstruction in North Carolina. The Ku Klux Klan and the atrocities they committed during that time are still a topic of serious debate today. Holden’s decision to use force in the suppression of the Klan was loved by some, and opposed by others. The Governor’s decision to issue a state of insurrection for Alamance and Caswell proves that the White Brotherhood had been deeply implanted into all levels of local government in the above counties. The sheriff of Alamance County, Albert Murray, reveals that he himself had been a member of the White Brotherhood and James E. Boyd clarifies to what extent to the Klan went to be discrete in their actions. Arguing against the fact that an insurrection had occurred, the Board of Managers
argued that an insurrection was an act of treason, and that the KKK had only committed acts of violence and murder. Nathaniel Boyden for the Respondent rebuttals that the Shoffner Act passed in the North Carolina Legislature provided legal grounds for Governor
Holden to issue a state of insurrection because the ability of local authorities to protect all citizens had been compromised. Albert Murray’s testimony is key in proving this because he did nothing to attempt to subdue the Wyatt Outlaw murders, compromising his role as a sheriff. Governor Holden would be convicted of the other six charges brought against him, but Alamance and Caswell County authorities were not able to adequately protect and defend the citizens, therefore vindicating Holden on the charges of the declaration of the counties in a state of insurrection. His decision to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for the men arrested by Colonel Kirk’s troops would prove to be major downfalls of Holden, seeing the Conservative Party impeach him after the Conservatives had gained a large majority in the North Carolina Legislature following the election of 1870.