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Hillsborough Recorder

Hillsborough Recorder

Sept. 11, 1861

Page 3


Died, at his residence, near Red Mountain, Orange county, on the 7th inst., the Honorable William P. Mangum, aged near seventy years.

The demise of so eminent a citizen demands of us some brief memorial of a life, connected for near a third of the past century, with only occasional interruptions, with the public history of the country.  Commencing his career as an advocate at the bar of the 4th circuit, in the period of its highest renown, he was thrice a member of the State Legislature, for his native county of Orange—at three different times appointed Judge of the Superior Courts of Law and Equity—twice elected to the House of Representatives in the Congress of the United States—for three full terms he represented North Carolina if the Senate of the Union, and for the latter half of the term of Mr. Tyler in the Presidency, from 1842 to 1845, he was the President of the Senate, (succeeding upon the death of the Hon. Samuel L. Southard of New Jersey,) and though in times of high party excitement, acquitted himself to the general approbation of that August assembly.  In 1830 he received the vote of South Carolina for the Presidency of the United States, in opposition to Mr. Van Buren.

Mr. Mangum was a native of the county of Orange, and born, we believe, in 1792.  His preparatory studies, prior to his entrance at the University of the State, were pursued in his own neighborhood, and at a later stage under the Reverend Doctor McPheeters in the Raleigh Academy.  He was some time also, an assistant teacher in this Institution, and was perhaps indebted to this employment, for that neat penmanship and exact observance of the rules of elegant composition which characterized all his writings.  He received his first degree at the University in 1815, studied the Law in the office of the late Honorable Duncan Cameron, then a Judge of the Superior Courts, and a neighbor of his father.  Under his admission to the bar, he at once acquired a practice which gave him both profit and reputation, insomuch that within five years he was elected to the bench.  This he quitted the year following, and resumed his practice until 1823, when he was returned to the House of Representatives of the United States.  From this time, although he was twice afterwards a Judge, and for two or three years at the bar, his attention was mainly devoted to politics.  His powers as a public speaker, his intimate acquaintance with the motives and habits of thought of the people, and an elegant person and address, gave him high distinction as an advocate, and general acceptance as a Judge.  But it was in the deliberative and popular assembly, the congregations of the masses of men, and above all, in the social intercourse, and conversations of public men, that his talents, his inclinations, his habits and tastes, eminently fitted him to shine.  In the House of Representatives, with Clay, Randolph, McLane, McDuffie, Storrs, Buchanan and other leading spirits, in 1823 and 1825, he took a conspicuous part in the debates, and well sustained the character of the State, in the public counsels.  After his election to the Senate, which he first entered in 1830, he made few elaborate efforts, but partook in the running debates, and was recognized as one of its distinguished members, when Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Wright, Forsythe, Clayton, Benton, Leigh, and a galaxy of Parliamentary talent, not seen in this country before or since, were members of that body.  In popular eloquence, such as is addressed to the people in their primary assemblies, Mr. Magnum has had but few equals in our country, and it may well be doubted, whether Clay, Crittenden, Corwin or Preston, would have borne from him the palm in that field of oratory.  His tall and commanding figure, always becomingly dressed, his rich and melodious voice, his flowing periods, his splendid Imagery, often gorgeous and not in the best taste of the rhetorical critic, but apposite, and dazzling to the less acute, his sympathetic nature, and perfect acquaintance with all the springs and motives of human action, gave him an almost mesmeric sway over the multitudes.   This, with a native genius and sagacity, and a natural command over men, gave him weight in the consultations of his associates, and in the deliberations of the Senate; for his habits were far from studious, and as he advanced in life he seemed to avoid elaborate discussions.  In the fiercest strifes of party, his generous bearing and fine manners preserved to him cordial relations with political opponents, and to Randolph or Clay, Benton or Preston, Webster, King or Wright, he was alike an agreeable talker and listener.  For several years past, Mr. Mangum had been prostrated by paralysis, and greatly afflicted by disease, which deprived him of the power of speech.  He retained, however, his mental faculties, and took a deep interest in the current events, of the struggle in which the country is engaged, until the fall of his only son, a Lieutenant in the North Carolina State Troops (named in honor of the cherished friend of his premier days, William Preston, of South Carolina,) from a wound received in the gallant discharge of duty, in the triumphant battle of Manassas plains on the 21st of July.  Overwhelmed by this distressing bereavement, he seemed to surrender his hold on the things of this life, and welcome the grave.  A widow and three daughters, whose grief is shared by all his neighbors, and a wide circle of friends and admirer throughout the country, survive him.



[Transcribed by Sharon Strout]


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