Henry G. Connor

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For other people named Henry Connor, see Henry Connor (disambiguation).

Henry Groves Connor (July 3, 1852 – November 23, 1924) was a North Carolina politician and jurist, and a United States federal judge.

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Connor read law to enter the bar in 1871. He was in private practice in Wilson, North Carolina from 1871 to 1885. He was elected to a term in the North Carolina Senate in 1885, and served as a North Carolina Superior Court judge from 1885 to 1893. He returned to private practice in Wilson from 1893 to 1903.

In 1898, he took part in the "White Supremacy" campaign, traveling the state to speak on behalf of the Democratic Party. According to an official state report on the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, "Connor’s correspondence and speeches repeatedly indicated that he was 'willing to go a very long way to remove the negro from the politics of the state' as he was 'managing a campaign of which I shall never be ashamed.' Although definitely on the side of white supremacy, Connor reflected the concerns of conservative Democrats when he hoped 'that the present conditions may pass away without violence or bloodshed and that our whole people may be wiser and understand each other better.' He fully felt that once the Democrats regained power over the state, they should earnestly seek to improve the lives and education of blacks."[1]

In that campaign, Connor was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives from Wilson County and was rewarded by his fellow Democrats with the post of Speaker in the new legislature.

Connor later served as an associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1903 until 1909. On May 10, 1909, Connor was nominated by President William Howard Taft to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina vacated by Thomas R. Purnell. Connor was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 25, 1909, and received his commission the same day. Connor held that judgeship until his death, in Wilson, on November 23, 1924.

He had three sons: George Whitfield Connor, who followed him onto the state Supreme Court; H. G. Connor, Jr., a lawyer and legislator; and Robert Digges Wimberly Connor, secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission, professor at the University of North Carolina, and later the first Archivist of the United States.

Connor was a published author. Among his works were biographies of John Archibald Campbell,[2] James Iredell, and William Gaston.[3]


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Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas Richard Purnell
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Isaac Melson Meekins