Born near Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1785, Bethune attended private schools and the Lumberton Male Academy. Elected to the North Carolina Senate in 1817, 1818, 1822 to 1825, and 1827, Bethune rose to the U.S. House in 1830 as a Jacksonian Democrat. Defeated for re-election in 1832, Bethune only served one term in Congress (March 4, 1831 – March 3, 1833). After losing two additional attempts to return to Congress in 1834 and 1836, Bethune returned to his plantation near Fayetteville and resumed the practice of agriculture until his death in 1874. He is buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Aberdeen, North Carolina.