Angus Wilton McLean

50th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1925 to 1929

Date Born: April, 20, 1870

Date Died: June 21, 1935

Place Born: Robeson County, NC

Place Buried: Meadowbrook Cemetery in Lumberton, NC

Residence: Lumberton, NC

Occupation: Lawyer, Banker

Angus Wilton McLean was born on April 20, 1870 in Robeson County, NC, the son of Archibald Alexander McLean and Caroline Amanda (Purcell) McLean. After his early training in the local schools of Richmond (now Scotland) County, he attended the Laurinburg Academy. In the fall of 1890, McLean entered the University of North Carolina, where for two years he studied law under the direction of Dr. John Manning, Dr. Kemp P. Battle, Associate Justice James E. Shepherd, and Professor George T. Winston.

In 1892, Angus Wilton McLean was admitted to the North Carolina bar and began practicing in Lumberton as the associate of a kinsman, Thomas A. McNeill. Their firm handled much of the legal business of the town and for many years served as counsel for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

In 1897, Angus Wilton McLean joined a number of interested persons to establish the Bank of Lumberton, the first bank in town. Between 1895 and 1909, he helped to establish three textile mills in Lumberton, and in 1906 he played a significant role in building the Virginia & Carolina Southern Railroad from Lumberton to St. Pauls, where it tapped the Atlantic Coast Line.

On April 16, 1904, Angus Wilston McLean married Margaret Jones French, daughter of James McD. French and Edna (Godwin) French; they had three children.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him to the War Finance Corporation.

In 1920, he was named Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and moved to Washington, DC.

In the 1924 general election, Angus Wilton McLean was elected by the people as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served on term from January 14, 1925 to January 11, 1929. During his administration, an executive budget system was initiated; a department of conservation and development was established; and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was formed.

Gov. Angus Wilton McLean heavily invested into the state’s future prosperity. Keen on improving North Carolina’s educational system, Gov. McLean allotted large sums to K-12 and higher education public programs to help foster North Carolina’s young minds. According to historian William S. Powell, by the time Gov. McLean left office, over half of the state’s total revenues went into education. Gov. McLean was also concerned with developing the state’s infrastructure. Significant revenue was raised via bonds aiding in the construction and maintenance of roads to improve development and commerce.

When Angus Wilton McLean left the governor's office in January of 1929, he returned to his law firm and business interests in Lumberton. Later he also opened a law office in Washington, DC. He still had one political ambition, that of becoming a U.S. Senator, but he gave that up out of respect for his friend, Senator Furnifold M. Simmons. In 1932 he was considered for a position in the U.S. Treasury Department, but he declined the offer.

On April 19, 1935, while on route from Washington, DC to Atlantic City, NJ, Angus Wilton McLean suffered a thrombosis from which he never recovered. He died two months later on June 21, 1935, and he was buried in the Meadowbrook Cemetery in Lumberton, NC.

Angus Wilton McLean (20 April 1870 -- 21 June 1935) was a lawyer and banker who was the Democratic governor of the state of North Carolina from 1925 to 1929. Angus also served as Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1920-1921.

Born to Confederate veteran and farmer Archibald McLean and the former Caroline Purcell, he graduated from local public scholls and the McMillan Military Academy. He began studying law in 1890 at UNC and was admitted to the bar in 1892. McLean joined a law firm in Lumberton and in 1904 married Margaret French - they had three children.

McLean was among Lumberton's leading businessmen - he was involved in the founding of the town's first bank, three textile mills, and the Virginia & Carolina Railroad, for which he served as its first president. Long active in the Democrat Party, he served on the state executive committee and as a delegate to national conventions. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him one of four diretors of the War Finance Corporation; in 1920, Wilson named him Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.

McLean, with the support of the political machine of Senator Furnifold Simmons, defeated Josiah Bailey for the Democratice gubernatorial nomination in 1924, and in the fall easily defeated Republican candidate Isaac M. Meekins. In his inaugural address, he recommended a thorough revision of the budgetary system for the State government - one month later adopted by the legislature. With conservative management of the State's revenue, McLean left office with a $2.5 million surplus, a cushion that would well serve his successor during the Depression.

McLean returned to his law practice in Lumberton after leaving office and soon opened a second office in Washington, DC. In April of 1935, he suffered a stroke in Raleigh and died two months later.

Angus Wilton McLean, governor of North Carolina, was born in Robeson County, NC on April 20, 1870. His education was attained at the McMillan Military School, at Laurinburg Academy, and at the University of North Carolina, where he earned a law degree in 1892. Along with his legal career, McLean also was a successful businessman, with holdings in the real estate, banking, railroad, and textile industries. He first entered politics in 1892, serving as the chairman of the Robeson County Democratic Executive Committee. He also was a delegate to the 1904 Democratic National Committee; was state chairman of Woodrow Wilson’s 1912 and 1916 campaigns; and served as a member of the National Democratic Executive Committee from 1916 to 1924. From 1918 to 1922 he served on the War Finance Corporation; and from 1920 to 1921 he was the assistant secretary of the treasury. McLean next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1924 general election. During his tenure, an executive budget system was initiated; a department of conservation and development was established; and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was formed. After completing his term, McLean retired from political life. He continued to stay active in both his business and legal interests. Angus W. McLean passed away on June 21, 1935, and was buried in the Meadowbrook Cemetery in Lumberton, NC.
Click Here to view/download an Adobe PDF file of the book, entitled "Public Papers and Letters of Angus Wilton McLean, Governor of North Carolina 1925-1929," published in 1931.

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