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Horace Wilson Raper, "William Woods Holden" (1951)


Horace Wilson Raper, "William Woods Holden" (1951)


Horace William Raper’s doctoral dissertation for the University of Chapel Hill is extremely influential in examining the impeachment of Governor William Woods Holden. Titled William Woods Holden: A Political Biography, he study’s the political career of a man who would come to be the first state Governor to be impeached and convicted from office. The final two chapters of his work involve analyzing the Kirk-Holden War, and the impeachment that superseded his removal from office. Governor Holden was the former owner-editor of the North Carolina Standard newspaper. Governor Holden’s conviction was none the less, the first of its kind, and Raper compiles numerous newspaper sources and government documents to determine just how Holden was impeached. In the 1870 general election, Raper points out that the Conservative were able to solidify a sweeping win throughout the North Carolina Legislature. Raper’s biography of Holden makes shows the political power the Klan had during Reconstruction in North Carolina. Using records from the North Carolina Senate and House Journals, Raper highlights that the majority Conservative party refused to accept the admission of certain elected delegates, claiming that the Kirk-Holden War created an unfair election with the presence of federal troops. The Conservatives would eventually go on to unseat three sitting Republicans in the North Carolina Congress following a second election without the presence of federal troops. Raper brings to light that the Conservatives in power were adamantly opposed to any political opposition, fearing that a Republican held congress would impede upon the rights of a white man, supplanting black supremacy over the belief of white supremacy. Raper’s book shows that the Conservatives would stop at nothing to protect the antebellum belief of white supremacy.


Horace William Raper


Horace William Raper, "William Woods Holden: A Political Biography." PhD diss., Universtiy of North Carolina, 1951.






Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Original Format



The General Assembly set in regular session on November 21, and the Conservatives were quick to use their new strength. They raised objections to seating several of the claimants, in both the Senate and House. In the Senate, objections were raised to Robert W. Lassiter of Granville County, William A. Smith of Alamance, and L. C. Barnett of Person, all Republicans. They were allowed to take their seats, but only after contests were begun against Lassiter and Barnett. In January, Lassiter was unseated and replaced by L. C. Edwards, a Conservative. Barnett retained his post. In the meantime, Wilson Carey, Negro from Caswell, and William A. Smith Alamance were deprived of their seats on the ground that free elections had been impossible during the occupation of those counties by Kirks troops. A new election was called and Smith was replaced by James A. Graham and Carey by Livingston Brown, both Conservatives. There was some talk of depriving John A. Gilmer, Conservative from Guilford Country, of his seat as he was from the same senatorial district as Smith, but this was not done since he had secured a majority vote, with or without the Alamance Vote.

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Horace William Raper, Horace Wilson Raper, "William Woods Holden" (1951), Civil War Era NC, accessed July 7, 2022,