Jeter Connelly Pritchard

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Jeter Connelly Pritchard
Jeter Connelly Pritchard.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
In office
April 27, 1904 – April 10, 1921
Appointed by Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by Charles Henry Simonton
Succeeded by Edmund Waddill, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
In office
November 10, 1903 – June 1, 1904
Appointed by Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by Harry M. Clabaugh
Succeeded by Wendell Phillips Stafford
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
January 23, 1895 – March 4, 1903
Preceded by Thomas J. Jarvis
Succeeded by Lee S. Overman
Personal details
Born (1857-07-12)July 12, 1857
Jonesboro, Tennessee
Died April 10, 1921(1921-04-10) (aged 63)
Asheville, North Carolina
Political party Republican

Jeter Connelly Pritchard (July 12, 1857 – April 10, 1921) was a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of North Carolina between 1895 and 1903. He was the only Republican to represent a southern state in the United States Senate during that time. Democrats controlled most of the Southern state legislatures and selected Democratic senators, under the process of the time. They had disenfranchised most blacks and Republicans by new constitutions and laws from 1890 to 1908 that raised barriers to voter registration and excluded blacks from the political system.

Pritchard was replaced by the Democratic-dominated state legislature in 1902, but the following year, he was appointed as a judge to the federal district court in Washington, DC by President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1904 Roosevelt appointed Pritchard to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, where he served as justice to his death.

After the successful Republican-Populist coalition in several southern states at the end of the 19th century had temporarily gained governorships and sometimes control of state legislatures, when the Democrats returned to power they worked to secure their position. They wanted to prevent future competition from the Republican and Populist parties, so disenfranchised blacks in the South.

In North Carolina Pritchard became a prominent leader of the Lily-White Movement, an effort in the South during the early 20th century to drive the relatively few remaining blacks out of the Republican Party. The relatively small number of white Republicans in the state wanted to take control of the party entirely.

Early life and education[edit]

Mrs Jeter Connelly Pritchard

Pritchard was born in Jonesborough, Tennessee, in the eastern part of the state which had been Unionist during the Civil War and where the Republican Party was competitive. He attended local schools.

He moved to North Carolina, where he became a newspaper editor/publisher and later a lawyer. He had joined the Republican Party while living in eastern Tennessee and became active in it in western North Carolina. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives from Madison County in 1884, 1886, and 1890. He ran as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 1888 but was defeated.

Pritchard read law at an established firm to enter the bar in 1889, and established his legal practice in Marshall, North Carolina. He unsuccessfully sought appointment in 1891 by the state legislature to the U.S. Senate (as senators were then chosen), and ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1892.

Following the victory of the Republican-Populist alliance (or "fusion") in the 1894 legislative elections, they dominated the North Carolina General Assembly and elected Pritchard as a Republican to the US Senate, to complete the rest of the term of the late Sen. Zebulon Vance.[1] He was re-elected by the legislature in 1897 to a full 6-year term.[2]

The Democrats regained power and took action to secure their dominance and prevent future challenges from Republican-Populist coalitions. In 1900 they passed a suffrage amendment to the state constitution that effectively disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites, hollowing out the Republican Party and weakening the Populist movement. Although African Americans constituted one-third of the state's population, by 1904 their registered voters numbered only about 5,000, and less after that. The Democratic-dominated legislature chose a Democrat for the US Senate in 1903. Most African-American residents in the state were unable to vote until after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and enforcement of fair standards by the federal government.

On November 10, 1903, Pritchard was nominated by President Theodore Roosevelt (a Republican) to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Harry M. Clabaugh. Pritchard was quickly confirmed by the United States Senate on November 16, 1903, and received his commission the same day.

Less than six months later, on April 27, 1904, Roosevelt nominated Pritchard for elevation to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated by Charles Henry Simonton. Pritchard was rapidly confirmed by the United States Senate, on April 27, 1904, and he received commission the same day. Pritchard served on that court, based in Richmond, Virginia, until his death in 1921. Among his decisions as an appellate judge was the grant of a writ of habeas corpus reversing a contempt of court citation against journalist Josephus Daniels.

He was the father of George M. Pritchard, who also became a politician in the Republican Party.

The senior Pritchard is buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, North Carolina, near fellow North Carolina Senators Thomas Lanier Clingman and Zebulon Baird Vance.[3]

Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville is named in his memory.


  1. ^ US Senate special election of Jan. 23, 1895, OurCampaigns
  2. ^ US Senate election of Jan. 20, 1897, OurCampaigns
  3. ^ "Riverside Cemetery". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 2008-02-25.


External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Thomas Jordan Jarvis
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
Served alongside: Matt Whitaker Ransom, Marion Butler, Furnifold McLendel Simmons
Succeeded by
Lee Slater Overman
Legal offices
Preceded by
Harry M. Clabaugh
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Wendell Phillips Stafford
Preceded by
Charles Henry Simonton
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Succeeded by
Edmund Waddill, Jr.