Zebulon Baird Vance (May 13,1830 April 14,1894) was a Confederate military officer in the American Civil War, twice Governor of North Carolina, and U.S. Senator. A prodigious writer, Vance became one of the most influential southern leaders of the Civil War and postbellum periods.
Zebulon Vance was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina near present-day Weaverville, the third of eight children. His family is known to have owned a relatively large number of slaves (18). His uncle was Congressman Robert Brank Vance, for whom his elder brother, Robert B. Vance, was named. At age twelve he was sent to study at Washington College in Tennessee, now known as Washington College Academy. The death of his father forced Vance to withdraw and return home at the age of fourteen. It was during this time that he began to court the well-bred Miss Harriette Espy by letter.
In order to improve his standing, Vance determined to go to law school. At the age of twenty-one, he wrote the President of the University of North Carolina, former Governor David L. Swain, and asked for a loan so that he could attend law school. Governor Swain arranged for a $300 loan from the university, and Vance performed admirably. By 1852 Vance had begun practicing law in Asheville, and was soon elected county solicitor (prosecuting attorney). By 1853, he and Harriette Espy were married, and they would subsequently have four sons.
At the age of twenty-eight, Vance (now a member of the American Party) was the youngest member of Congress. While in Congress, Vance was a staunch supporter of both the Union and states' rights. In March 1861, however, when indications were that the North Carolina legislature was going to vote for secession, he resigned his seat and returned home.
In September 1862, Vance won the gubernatorial election. In the Confederacy Vance was a major proponent of individual rights and local self-government, often putting him at odds with the Confederate government of Jefferson Davis. For example, North Carolina was the only state to observe the writ of habeas corpus and keep its courts fully functional during the war. Also, Vance refused to allow supplies smuggled into North Carolina by blockade runners to be given to other states until North Carolinians had their share. Vance's work for the aid and morale of the people, especially in mitigating the harsh Confederate conscription practices, inspired the nickname "War Governor of the South." Vance was re-elected in 1864.
In 1870, the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate, but due to the restrictions placed on ex-Confederates by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, he was not allowed to serve. In 1876, Vance was elected Governor once again (during which time he focused on education), and in 1879 the legislature again elected him to the United States Senate. This time he was seated, and he served in the Senate until his death in 1894. After a funeral in the U.S. Capitol, Vance was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
Starting in about 1870, Vance gave a speech hundreds of times he called "The Scattered Nation," which praised the Jews and called for religious tolerance and freedom amongst all Americans.
-- T. J. Jarvis, Governor from 1879 to 1885
Supposedly said by Vance about North Carolina. The two mountains of conceit are Virginia and South Carolina. This is also attributed to Alexander Hamilton, but probably predates both Hamilton and Vance.
Several locations and schools in North Carolina bear Vance's name:
Some individuals are named for Vance: