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Thomas Ruffin, 1787-1870


Thomas Ruffin, 1787-1870


Thomas Ruffin was born in Virginia in November of 1787, and moved to North Carolina early in his life. He attended Princeton University and later studied law in Rockingham County and eventually passed the bar in 1808. After practicing law for a few years, he was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1813 and was Speaker of the House in 1816. After a short stint as president of the North Carolina State Bank, he took a spot on the bench of the North Carolina Supreme Court. He moved to Haw River in 1830, and became a plantation owner and slaveholder. He is most notable for his decision in the case of State v. Mann where he stated, "the power of the master must be absolute in order to render the submission of the slave perfect". Ruffin retired from the court in 1858 and worked for six years as the president of the North Carolina Agricultural Society. He passed away in 1870.


Murray, Jonathan. "Thomas Ruffin." Accessed April 11, 2012.




Cooper, Blake


Alamance County, North Carolina


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Thomas Ruffin, 1787-1870, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 17, 2024,