Willie Person Mangum

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Willie Person Mangum
Willie p magnum.jpg
Portrait by James Reid Lambdin
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
March 4, 1831 – November 26, 1836
November 25, 1840 – March 4, 1853
Preceded by James Iredell, Jr.
Bedford Brown
Succeeded by Robert Strange
David S. Reid
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1823 – March 18, 1826
Preceded by Josiah Crudup
Succeeded by Daniel L. Barringer
Personal details
Born (1792-05-10)May 10, 1792
Durham County, North Carolina
Died September 7, 1861(1861-09-07) (aged 69)
Durham County, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Whig
Spouse(s) Charity Cain Mangum
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Profession Law

Willie Person Mangum (May 10, 1792 – September 7, 1861) was a U.S. Senator from the state of North Carolina between 1831 and 1836 and between 1840 and 1853. He was one of the founders and leading members of the Whig party, and was a candidate for President on the Independent ticket in 1836.

Early life and education[edit]

Mangum was born in Durham County, North Carolina (then part of Orange County) to a family of the planter class. In his youth, he attended the respected private school in Raleigh run by John Chavis, a free black. They remained friends for years and had a long correspondence. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1815.

Career[edit]

Mangum began a law practice and entered politics. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1823 to 1826. After an interlude as a superior court judge, he was elected by the legislature as a Democrat to the Senate from North Carolina in 1830.

Mangum's stay in the Democratic Party was short. He opposed President Andrew Jackson on most of the major issues of the day, including the protective tariff, nullification, and the Bank of the United States. In 1834, Mangum openly declared himself to be a "Whig", and two years later, he resigned his Senate seat.

Due to a lack of organizational cohesion in the new Whig Party during the 1836 election, the Whigs put forward four presidential candidates: Daniel Webster in Massachusetts, William Henry Harrison in the remaining Northern and Border States, Hugh White in the middle and lower South, and Mangum in South Carolina. Some optimistic Whigs foresaw the nomination of several candidates resulting in denying a majority of electoral votes to any one candidate and throwing the election into the House of Representatives, much like what occurred in 1824, where Whig representatives could then coalesce around a single candidate. This possibility, however, did not come to fruition and Democratic candidate Martin Van Buren won the election with an outright majority of electoral votes. The legislature of South Carolina (which chose their electors until 1865) gave Mangum its 11 electoral votes.

After a four-year absence, Mangum served two more terms in the Senate, where he was an important ally of Henry Clay. After the resignation of Samuel Lewis Southard, he served as President pro tempore from 1842 to 1845 during a Vice-Presidential vacancy. Upon becoming Acting Vice President he also became next in succession to the Presidency from May 23, 1842 to March 4, 1845, including President John Tyler's narrow escape from death in the USS Princeton disaster of 1844. In 1852, he refused an offer to be a candidate for Vice-President on the Whig national ticket.

Realizing that he had little chance of being re-elected, Mangum retired at the end of his second term as a Whig. After the breakup of the Whigs during the mid-1850s, he joined the nativist American Party in 1856. A stroke soon afterward ended his political career.

Marriage and family[edit]

Mangum married Charity Alston Cain in 1819. They had five children. Their only son died in 1861 at the Battle of 1st Bull Run.

His plantation was known as Hill Forest. A 1931 biography of John Chavis noted that Mangum had allowed his former teacher to be buried on his land.[1] The gravesite was found in 1988 by the John Chavis Historical Society, and is now marked as the "Old Cemetery" on maps of Hill Forest.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shaw, G. C. John Chavis, 1763-1838, Binghamton, New York: The Vail-Ballou Press, 1931

Further reading[edit]

  • Shanks, Henry. The Papers of Willie Person Mangum. Raleigh, N.C. : North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956 (5 vols).
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Iredell, Jr.
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
1831–1836
Served alongside: Bedford Brown
Succeeded by
Robert Strange
Preceded by
Bedford Brown
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from North Carolina
1840–1853
Served alongside: William A. Graham, William H. Haywood, Jr., George E. Badger
Succeeded by
David S. Reid
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Samuel L. Southard
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
May 31, 1842 – March 4, 1845
Succeeded by
Ambrose Hundley Sevier