|Date Born: November 18, 1802||
Date Died: September 5, 1869
|Place Born: Guilford County, NC||
Place Buried: Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC
|Residence: Asheboro, NC, Raleigh, NC||
Occupation: Lawyer, Legislator
Jonathan Worth was born on November 18, 1802 in Guilford County, NC, son of Dr. David Worth and Eunice (Gardner) Worth. Raised as a Quaker, Jonathan Worth was the eldest of twelve children and attended the Caldwell Institute in Greensboro. He then studied law under Archibald D Murphey and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1824.
Jonathan Worth settled in adjacent Randolph County, in Asheboro, and made his fame and fortune there as an attorney and legislator.
On October 20, 1824, (another source says April 20, 1824) Jonathan Worth married Martitia Daniel, a niece of Judge Archibald D. Murphey, and daughter of John Daniel and Lucy (Murphey) Daniel. They had eight children.
In 1830, Jonathan Worth was first elected as one of two men
to represent Randolph County in the NC House of Commons of the:
He served two terms in the NC House of Commons, took a break from public service to build a lucrative law practice, was elected to the NC Senate, and then ran twice for U.S. Congress, both times unsuccessfully.
In 1840, Jonathan Worth was elected to represent the NC 38th
Senate District (Randolph County) in the NC Senate of the:
In 1858, Jonathan Worth was again elected, this time to the
NC 31st Senate District (Alamance & Randolph Counties), in
the NC Senate of the:
During this time in the NC Senate, Jonathan Worth was made chairman of a committee to investigate the poorly-run North Carolina Railroad. He pursued this official duty so relentlessly that the president of the Railroad, formerly a good friend, challenged him to a duel, which he declined.
In May of 1861, Jonathan Worth declined to serve as a delegate to the NC Secession Convention.
In late 1862, the General Assembly elected Jonathan Worth as Treasurer of North Carolina. He had the unhappy duty of issuing notes and bonds to finance the State's share of its war debt.
In 1865, Jonathan Worth was elected as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served two terms, from December 15, 1865 to July 1, 1868. The 1865 election had been conducted according to the 1865 North Carolina Constitution, which was rejected by the U.S. Congress. The major event of his second term was the 1868 Constitutional Convention to draft a constitution meeting the requirements of the U.S. Congress. One of Gov. Worth's major interests was to restore North Carolina to the Union. He was disappointed with the new Constitution and refused to run for re-election on the Conservative Party ticket in the election of 1868. He did not recognize the legitimacy of that election, which William Woods Holden won. Nevertheless, he wrote to Holden: "I surrender the office to you under what I deem Military duress."
Jonathan Worth retired to Raleigh, NC, and later died on September 5, 1869. He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.
Jonathan Worth (18 November 1802 -- 5 September 1869) was the governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1865 to 1868, during the early years of Reconstruction.
A native of Guilford County, Worth settled in Randolph County and made his fame and fortune there as an attorney and legislator. A Quaker and protégé of Judge Archibald Murphey, Worth championed the cause of free public schools, and, though he belonged to the greatly outnumbered Whig party, gained much stature for his practicality and vision.
In 1830, he ran for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives from Randolph County, motivated in large part by a failing law practice. His major shortcoming, he had decided, was his deficiency as a public speaker. His peers at the Bar persuaded him there was no better way to improve his oratory and achieve better rhetoric than to become a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, which thrives on "talk".
He served two terms in the House, took a break from public service to build a lucrative law practice, was elected to the State Senate, and then ran twice for Congress, both times unsuccessfully.
In 1858, Worth was again elected to the State Senate, where he was made chairman of a committee to investigate the poorly run North Carolina Railroad. He pursued this official duty so relentlessly that the president of the Railroad, formerly a good friend, challenged Worth to a duel, which Worth wisely declined.
Worth was an avid opponent of North Carolina's secession from the Union. Though opposed to the Confederate stands on most issues, Worth remained loyal to North Carolina and refused to take part in several peace movements. In late 1862 or early 1863, the legislature elected him State Treasurer by acclamation.
Worth had the unhappy duty of issuing notes and bonds to finance the State's share of its war debt. Of the some $20 million in notes authorized by the State, Worth issued $8.5 million and $5.2 million were outstanding at the end of the war. War bonds totaling more than $13 million were issued. At the end of the war, all of the State's war debt was repudiated.
Just before Raleigh was occupied by Sherman's conquering forces at the end of the war, Governor Zebulon B. Vance charged Worth with the duty of safeguarding the State archives, which he did by evacuating them to the Company Shops in Alamance County. Worth was so highly regarded that when William W. Holden was installed as the provisional Governor, he requested Worth continue as the provisional Treasurer. Worth held that title for five months until he resigned during his campaign against Gov. Holden in a special November 9, 1865 election. Worth is the only statewide North Carolina Treasurer to become Governor.
Worth was nominated by the Conservative Party, a state coalition that included most Democrats and some former Whigs, to run for Governor in North Carolina's first and only special election for the office. Worth had been associated with the Conservative Party since the beginning of the Civil War. His opponent was the incumbent Gov. William W. Holden, who had been appointed by President Johnson and was running on the National Union Party ticket. Worth's strength was in the eastern part of the state, and Holden carried the western counties which had mostly opposed secession and the Civil War. Worth won with 32,549 votes (55.5%) to Holden's 25,809 votes (44.0%). Worth won with the support of many elements of the state that had supported secession. The 1865 election had been conducted according to the 1865 state constitution, which was rejected by the U.S. Congress.
Worth was re-elected on October 18, 1866 for a term that started Dec. 22, 1866. He won 34,250 votes (75.9%) to 10,759 votes (23.8%) for former U.S. Rep. Alfred Dockery, running on the National Union Party ticket. In both his gubernatorial campaigns, Worth emphasized that he had opposed secession and that he sought to heal state and national divisions. He expressed support for President Andrew Johnson.
The major event of Worth's second term was the state constitutional convention, held in early 1868 to draft a constitution meeting the requirements of Congress. One of Worth's major interests was to restore North Carolina to the Union. Worth was disappointed with the new constitution and refused to run for re-election on the Conservative Party ticket in the election of 1868. He did not recognize the legitimacy of that election, which William W. Holden won. Nevertheless, he wrote to Holden: "I surrender the office to you under what I deem Military duress."
Worth died 14 months after leaving office as Governor. He is buried in historic Oakwood Cemetery.
Jonathan Worth, governor of North Carolina, was born in Randolph County, NC on November 18, 1802. His early education was attained at the Greensboro Academy. He later went on to study law, and in 1824 was admitted to the bar. After establishing a successful legal practice, Worth entered into politics. In his first political position, he served as a member of the NC House of Commons, an office he held from 1830 to 1832. He also served in the NC Senate from 1840 to 1841; and was the North Carolina Treasurer from 1862 to 1865. Worth next won election to the governorship in 1865, and was re-elected to a second term in 1866. During his tenure, President Andrew Johnsons reconstruction policies were endorsed; black suffrage rights were contested; and the ratification of the 14th Amendment was opposed. Worth did not run for re-election, and had refused to relinquish his duties to Governor-elect William Woods Holden. Consequently, he was removed from office by military decree on July1, 1868. Worth then retired from political life, spending his time at his home in Raleigh. Jonathan Worth passed away on September 6, 1869, and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.
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