John Haywood (politician)

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John Haywood ii
2nd North Carolina State Treasurer
In office
Preceded byMemucan Hunt
Succeeded byWilliam S. Robards
Personal details
Born(1754-02-23)February 23, 1754
Edgecombe County, Province of North Carolina
DiedNovember 18, 1827(1827-11-18) (aged 73)
Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, USA
Spouse(s)Sarah Leigh (d. 1791);
Eliza Williams
Children1 son with Sarah;
12 children with Eliza
ResidenceRaleigh, Wake County, North Carolina
OccupationNorth Carolina Senate clerk, North Carolina State Treasurer

John Haywood (born Edgecombe County, North Carolina, February 23, 1754; died Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, November 18, 1827[1]) was an American politician, who was the longest-serving North Carolina State Treasurer (forty years, from 1787 until his death).[2]


Haywood began public service in 1781 as clerk of the State Senate, and held this office for five years, after which he was elected Treasurer by the state legislature. Haywood also became the first Intendant of Police, or Mayor, of Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1795.[1]

Haywood County was named in his honor after its creation in 1808,[3] and he also subsequently had a town named after him in Chatham County.[1]

Financial discrepancies[edit]

In 1820 "Treasurer John," one of the most popular men in the state, had been accused of "abusing his trust." The legislature promptly exonerated him following an inquiry, but an examination of the records after his death in 1827 disclosed that public funds in excess of $68,000 were, in fact, unaccounted for. That was a massive shortfall in those days – more than half the state's entire budget for the year. Haywood's heirs reimbursed the state nearly $48,000 for the missing money, but examiners shortly afterward discovered an additional shortage of almost $22,000 in Cherokee bonds, revenue from the sale of public lands in western North Carolina.[2]

The historian William K. Boyd commented that the accounting of public funds in those days was deficient in three respects: "First, the comptroller did not have oversight of the actual money in the treasury; the auditing by the comptroller did not include all state funds; and the method of bonding the treasurer was not adequate."[4] In 1784 a law had been enacted requiring the Treasurer to post a bond in the amount of "one hundred thousand pounds," but an 1801 statute reduced the amount of the required bond to a sum equal to the balance of existing treasury funds, plus estimated annual revenue for the following year. It stipulated moreover that no penalty would be imposed for failure to comply with the requirement.[2]

Although banks were operating in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina, Haywood preferred to keep the state's money in a "Public Chest" in his office, dipping into it as necessary to pay governmental and perhaps personal expenses.[2] Since he had posted no bond from 1826 to 1827, when the shortfall was discovered in his accounts, state officials had no practical means of recovering the missing money.

They took Haywood's estate to court, but to no avail. The court held that the executor had properly dispersed all but slightly more than $7,000 of Haywood's assets. This meager sum was duly awarded to the state, minus a small amount for his widow's dower rights.[2]


After Haywood's death, the legislature elected his son, John S. Haywood, to succeed him as treasurer, but the son declined the office, as the magnitude of his father's malfeasance was becoming clear.[2]

Personal life[edit]

When a law was passed requiring state officials to live in Raleigh, Haywood bought land bounded by New Bern, Blount, Edenton and Person Streets, and built Haywood Hall, which to this day remains a popular venue for small groups.[2][5] For many years Haywood and his first wife, Sarah Leigh,[1] used their new premises to entertain official state dignitaries.[2] Sarah gave John one son, named Leigh.[1] Haywood Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.[6]

After Sarah's death in 1791, John married, on March 9, 1798, Eliza Eagles Asaph Williams, by whom he had 12 children. When Haywood himself died in Raleigh in 1827, "a great procession was given in his honor and his funeral was conducted in the Presbyterian Church by Reverend Doctor McPheeters".[1]

From 1797 to 1809, he owned Locust Grove plantation at Ingleside, North Carolina. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Biographical detail Archived 2005-04-05 at the Wayback Machine: Haywood Hall website.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Further profile on Haywood Archived 2008-03-13 at the Wayback Machine: North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer website.
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 153.
  4. ^ William K. Boyd, History of North Carolina, Vol. II, The Federal Period 1783-1860 (Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1919), p.109-113.
  5. ^ J. G. Zehmer; Sherry Ingram (May 1970). "Haywood Hall" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  6. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  7. ^ John Baxton Flowers, III; Catherine W. Cockshutt (August 1975). "Locust Grove" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
Political offices
Preceded by
Memucan Hunt
Treasurer of North Carolina
Succeeded by
William S. Robards