Julian Carr (industrialist)

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Julian Carr
Julian Shakespeare Carr (1845-1924).jpg
Born(1845-10-12)October 12, 1845
DiedApril 29, 1924(1924-04-29) (aged 78)
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
OccupationIndustrialist, banker, philanthropist
Known forNamesake of Carrboro
Speech at Silent Sam dedication
Spouse(s)Nannie Graham Parrish
Signature of Julian Shakespeare Carr.png

Julian Shakespeare Carr (October 12, 1845 – April 29, 1924) was an American industrialist, philanthropist, and white supremacist. He is the namesake of the town of Carrboro, North Carolina.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Carr was the son of Chapel Hill merchant and slaveowner John Wesley Carr and Eliza P. Carr (née Eliza Pannell Bullock). Carr was from a prominent North Carolinian planting family and was a cousin of Governor Elias Carr and of Mary Hilliard Hinton.

He entered the University of North Carolina (today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) at the age of sixteen, in 1862.

His studies were interrupted in 1864 by service as a private in the Confederacy, serving with the Third North Carolina Cavalry.


After the war, Carr became a partner in the tobacco manufacturing firm W. T. Blackwell and Co. in nearby Durham. His business acumen led to the firm's becoming known worldwide through its recognizable Bull Durham trademark. Carr became one of the state's wealthiest individuals, engaging in successful textile, banking (Durham's First National Bank), railroad, public utility (Electric Lighting Company), and newspaper endeavors.

In 1909, Carr purchased the Alberta Cotton Mill from Thomas F. Lloyd in what was then called West End, North Carolina, by Chapel Hill. In 1913, after agreeing to extend electricity to the town, it was named Carrboro in honor of him.[1][2] In the 1970s, the mill, abandoned for many years, was restored and opened as Carr Mill Mall.



Carr was nominated for Vice President of the United States by delegates from North Carolina (and one from Montana) at the 1900 Democratic National Convention,[3] at which he gave a speech.[4][failed verification] He served as a delegate himself to the 1912 convention.

Bolstering white supremacy in North Carolina[edit]

Julian Carr also played an essential role in bolstering white supremacy in North Carolina during the era of Jim Crow. He publicly endorsed the Ku Klux Klan, opposed the 15th Amendment (1870) giving the vote to African-American men, and promoted racial unrest and turmoil in the late 19th century to defeat an interracial "Fusion" political party. Carr promoted his racial views through the News & Observer newspaper, which he bought, setting up white supremacist Josephus Daniels as its Editor.[5] He celebrated the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, in which an elected government was overthrown by force (the only such incident in American history), and where at least 60 black North Carolinians were murdered. In numerous speeches, he suggested that African Americans were better off enslaved and celebrated violence, even lynching, against black citizens.[6]

In 1880 he was nominated for Lieutenant Governor.[7] Carr was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1900 Democratic primary for senator,[8][9] running on a platform of white supremacy.[10]

Carr was the largest single donor to the Silent Sam monument to Confederate alumni on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. At its dedication in 1913, Carr addressed the crowd, urging vigorous support for white supremacy. He bragged of an incident when he was 19 years old, "less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox", in which he performed the "pleasing duty" of horse-whipping an African-American "wench" "until her skirts hung in shreds", because he said she had "publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady".[11] This passage received a great deal of attention starting in 2011, after it was rediscovered in the university archives by a graduate student in history (Adam Domby) and published in the campus newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. It contributed significantly to the discontent that culminated in the toppling of the statue August 20, 2018.[12]


Carr was also instrumental in the founding of Duke University (where the history building on East Campus was named after him from 1930 to 2018). As Trinity College struggled to overcome postwar dependency on uncertain student tuition and church donations, interested Methodist laymen were crucial to its survival. Carr's name first appears in college records signing a note to forestall foreclosure on a mortgage due in 1880. Carr was elected a trustee of Trinity College in 1883, and over the course of the decade acted as benefactor and administrator of the struggling institution that was eventually renamed Duke University. He engineered the selection of John F. Crowell as the institution's new president, and along with Washington Duke won support to remove the school from its rural setting in Randolph County, North Carolina to Durham. The move was made possible by Carr's gift of 62 acres (250,000 m2) of land for the site.

Carr was noted in Volume VI of The History of Woman Suffrage for his encouragement of the formation of the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina: "At this time, when it was far from popular to stand for this cause, Judge Walter Clark, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Gen. Julian S. Carr, Archibald Henderson, Wade Harris and E.K. Graham acted as an Advisory Committee and gave freely of their time and money to help the League."[13]

A long-time advocate for the welfare of Confederate veterans, the "high-private," as he liked to refer to himself, was Commander-in-Chief of North Carolina's United Confederate Veterans. At the 1913 dedication of the Confederate Monument (later known as Silent Sam) on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carr gave a speech wherein he credited the Confederate soldiers of having "saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South," and as a consequence, "the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States," after which he ended his speech by relating a personal anecdote when he was 19 years old of having soon after the war "horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds" in Chapel Hill for having "publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady," and having performed this "pleasing duty" in front of a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers after she sought protection at the university.[14]

General Jule, as he was known, served as the representative for the Methodist Episcopal Church South to the United States Food Administration during World War I.

Carr was instrumental in the Western education of Charles Soong and the financing of Soong's Shanghai Bible-publishing business, who later was active in Sun Yat-Sen's attempts to establish a modern republic in China. Though it is largely forgotten today, Carr was a major financial backer of the Chinese Revolution.[15]


  • The city of Carrboro, North Carolina.
  • Carr Hall, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carr paid the entire cost of this building, erected in 1900 as a dormitory. When new it was described as "one of the stateliest buildings on its [UNC-CH] beautiful campus",[16]: 56  but in 2017 it was "a decrepit administrative office building". The building was renamed in 2020.[17]
  • "Duke University's Carr Building is a different story. Its original name, in 1927, was "Classroom Building". It was renamed "Carr Building" in 1930. In 2018 the original name of Classroom Building was restored (see below).
  • A building at the Durham School of the Arts, originally Central Junior High School, was named for Carr. On August 24, 2017, in addition to prohibiting the Confederate flag, the Board of the Durham Public Schools voted unanimously to remove Carr's name from the building.[18][19]
  • The Durham chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is named the Julian S. Carr Chapter.[20]
  • In 1945, the 100th anniversary of his birth, Governor R. Gregg Cherry proclaimed October 12, 1945, as Julian S. Carr Day in North Carolina.[21] On that day, an editorial in the Durham Sun said that "Named for him are a great many things, churches, a factory, a library, a Sunday School class, a host of children whose parents admired the man, and, now, Durham's Central Junior High School."[22]: 109 
  • A portrait of him hangs in the house of the UNC System President

Personal life[edit]

He married Nannie Graham Parrish, daughter of Colonel D.C. Parrish, in 1873. They had four sons and two daughters.[21] Their main residence, Somerset Villa, was "an ornament to Durham".[23] The Carrs owned a secondary residence, a planation in Hillsborough called Poplar Hill.[24]

Later in life, he was known as "General Carr," the unofficial rank having been bestowed by the state veterans' association due to his long service in veterans' affairs and generosity toward widows and their children. In 1923, UNC bestowed an honorary degree upon Julian Carr.[25]

Julian Carr died at his daughter's home in Chicago on April 29, 1924.[26]

Conflicting assessments[edit]

Carr supported white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan, spoke favorably of the murder of African Americans that occurred during the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, which he called a "grand and glorious event", and celebrated lynchings.[6][27][28]

As early as 1889 Carr had been described as "the foremost man in North Carolina", his name "a household word".[29] When running for Senator in 1900, an editorial said that "with a large purse. a liberal heart and a ready hand, he has contributed more to the educational and charitable institutions of North Carolina than any other man in the state."[30] At the centennial of his birth in 1945, President of the North Carolina College for Negroes (today's North Carolina Central University) James E. Shepard was quoted as having said that "I have never known the first time for him to fail to give to any enterprise which he thought would benefit the colored people or to lend his influence in their behalf… He put his time and money into the effort to establish that institution, and no call upon him was ever made in vain. I have known scores and scores of colored people who were the recipients of his kindness and generosity. I, too, was a recipient of the same. I never knew a cause, as stated above, to be in vain. I have never known a colored person too poor or ignorant who went to General Carr for assistance who did not receive the same."[22]: 107–108 

In 1962, Durham mayor W. F. Carr (a nephew) described him as "a philanthropist without stint, a soldier without fear, a churchman without apology, a citizen without self-interest, a leader without tyranny, a follower humble enough to follow good leaders." He added that "he contributed liberally of his wealth to churches, schools, and universities, including the stately Methodist church on Chapel Hill Street, and the Trinity Methodist Church in up-town Durham; Trinity College (Duke since 1934), Davidson, Wake Forest, Saint Mary's, Elon, Greensboro College and the North Carolina College for Negroes."[21] He was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the latter, today North Carolina Central University.[31]

In 1999, University of North Carolina alumnus Sam Shaefer opined in the Raleigh News & Observer that

Carr ... over the course of his life vigorously promoted and fought for some of the worst causes in human history – racial chattel slavery, racial segregation and white supremacy, and the restriction of political power to a small class of wealthy people. In our present, when we are faced with the enormity of the consequences of the ideology of racism, the monstrosity of unfettered capitalism, and active threats to the realistically very weak institutions of democracy that we hold on to, the idea of venerating Carr is the worst kind of apologia.[32]

During the dispute about that University's Silent Sam confederate monument, Peter Coclanis, Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, and William Sturkey, Assistant Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, disagreed in a series of op-ed pieces in the Herald-Sun. Coclanis opined that "Carr, alas, was an ex-Confederate, and a man of his times, whose personal 'allusion' during a 1913 address in Chapel Hill—uttered when he was 67 years old—has made him a reviled figure among many people today. This is unfortunate and somewhat unfair in my view, however one feels about Silent Sam.... People are more than the worst thing they have done in their lives."[11]

Sturkey responded that

Coclanis ... inaccurately portrays Carr as an otherwise generous philanthropist, unfairly vilified over a single bad moment or poor choice of words. * * * Julian Carr’s broader body of work indicates a long career of vile and violent white supremacism.... In the broader view, Carr’s life was filled with abhorrent activities and rhetoric that are not only deplorable today, but were illegal and belligerent in his own time. Carr committed treason against the United States of America, advocated the murder and disfranchisement of African Americans, and helped lead a racially divisive and violent political campaign that shattered democracy in North Carolina for over 60 years. Julian Carr was not merely 'a man of his times,' but rather an architect of his times. He was an enemy of enlightenment and democracy whose rhetoric and actions, both then and now, cast dark shadows over the civil and political life of the state and retard our ability to move forward from the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow.[33]

In the final piece, Coclanis wrote

I do not disagree with Sturkey's contention that Carr was a white supremacist and thus racist by our standards. That said, I fail to understand his larger point. The vast majority of white southerners – indeed, white Americans – during the period in which Carr lived were white supremacists and racists by our standards. The vast majority did not, however, make pioneering innovations in business, did not bring about profound changes in the economy, and did not provide opportunities for generations of people (some of whom were African-American) to raise their living standards. Carr was exceptionally philanthropic to numerous causes and institutions.... History is tragedy, not melodrama, and all of us have feet of clay. Martin Luther, especially in his later writings, was clearly anti-Semitic; Martin Luther King Jr. was a notorious philanderer and a plagiarist to boot. George Washington was a slave-owner; Abraham Lincoln was by our standards racist and white supremacist. Do they deserve to be disappeared too? Pace Mr. Sturkey, the answer is no. These men were four of the greatest beings in our history. Though hardly in their league, Julian Carr, on balance, was a force for good and deserves honorable remembrance too.[34]

Removal of Carr's name[edit]

"'Carr-washing' has become a popular trend in Durham and Chapel Hill, as Julian Carr's name is taken off buildings, such as the Durham Performing Arts Center. His self-presentation, at the dedication of the Confederate Monument (Silent Sam) as proud to use violence to maintain white supremacy, has sparked a movement. The speech has been quoted at Black Lives Matter Movements, and secondhand sources say it was referenced at the University of Virginia march. Carr's slave count is undocumented other than those who labored for his companies, but his White Supremacist ties are undeniable."[35]

  • The Durham Board of Education voted to remove Julian Carr's name from a building (the former Central Junior High School, mentioned above) at the Durham School of the Arts and to adopt a new dress code specifically prohibiting items that "intimidate other students on the basis of race." Mentioned were the Confederate flag, the Nazi swastika, and Ku Klux Klan symbols.[36]
  • The Duke University History Department, after the toppling of Silent Sam and the attention it gave to Carr's words, asked that Carr Hall, which houses the department, be renamed. Duke President Vincent Price called for a formation of a committee of students and faculty to examine options for a new understanding of Carr, his white supremacy, and his early support for Duke University. The committee held three meetings and sought comments from the Duke community, the "vast majority" of which favored renaming. On December 1, 2018, on the recommendation of the committee, the Board of Trustees voted to remove Carr's name from the building and temporarily returned the Hall to its original name, "Classroom Building", until a new name is decided upon.[37][38]
  • A petition has circulated calling for the town name of Carrboro to be changed.[11] According to Alderwoman Jacquie Gist, "Changing Carrboro's name is not a realistic option", but the town of Carrboro is planning to erect a plaque "acknowledging namesake Julian Carr's racist remarks".[39]


  1. ^ a b Pope, Kristen (January 24, 2007). "From Mill to Mall". Carrboro Commons. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "History of Carrboro". Carrboro, NC - Official Website. Archived from the original on August 23, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  3. ^ The World Almanac and Encyclopedia. Press Publishing Company (The New York World). 1901. p. 131. julian carr vice-president national convention.
  4. ^ "A DAY OF MANY SPEECHES.; Delegates Have Much to Say About the Candidates for the Vice Presidential Nomination". The New York Times. July 7, 1900. p. 1. Archived from the original on August 24, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  5. ^ Campbell, W. Joseph (1999). "One of the fine figures of American journalism". American Journalism. 16 (4): 37–55. doi:10.1080/08821127.1999.10739206.
  6. ^ a b Sturkey, William (October 31, 2017). "Carr was indeed much more than Silent Sam". The Herald-Sun. Archived from the original on August 16, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "Out of Our Past in Iredell". Statesville Record & Landmark. November 10, 1975. p. 11. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "The Senatorship". The Morning Post. Raleigh, North Carolina. November 4, 1900. p. 9. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Gen Carr's Claim". Cape Fear Enterprise. Holly Springs, North Carolina. September 28, 1900. p. 1. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Drew, Jonathan (October 8, 2017). "Debates, protests increase over universities' slavery ties". Asheville Citizen-Times. p. A12. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ a b c Coclanis, Peter A. (September 26, 2017). "Julian Carr did wrong, but also a good deal right". News & Observer. Archived from the original on March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Domby, Adam (January 20, 2011). "Why Silent Sam was built: A historian's perspective". Daily Tar Heel. Archived from the original on August 24, 2018. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Harper, Ida Husted (1922). History of Woman Suffrage Volume VI: 1900-1920. Fowler & Wells Company. pp. 491, 497.
  14. ^ "Unveiling of Confederate Monument at University". The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. Archived from the original on August 21, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018. Julian Shakespeare Carr Papers, 1892-1923. Folder 26: Addresses, 1912-1914: Scan 93 through Scan 112
  15. ^ The Soong Dynasty. Archived from the original on February 22, 2020. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  16. ^ Ashe, Samuel A. (1905). "Julian Shakespeare Carr". Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. 2. Greensboro, North Carolina: Charles L. Van Noppen. pp. 51–59. OCLC 192109993.
  17. ^ a b Murphy, Kate (July 29, 2020). "These UNC dorms and academic buildings are no longer named after white supremacists". News & Observer. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  18. ^ "North Carolina public school system bans Confederate flag, Ku Klux Klan symbols and swastikas". WYFF. Associated Press. August 25, 2017. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  19. ^ "Public School System bans Confederate flag". Asheville Citizen-Times. Associated Press. August 26, 2017. p. A4. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "Confederate Soldiers Monument, Durham". Conmemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, DocSouth, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library. March 19, 2010. Archived from the original on June 29, 2018. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  21. ^ a b c Hughes, Julian (October 24, 1962). "Julian Carr Remembered for His Activities as Civil War General". Daily Times-News. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ a b Green, C. Sylvester, ed. (1946). General Julian S. Carr, greathearted citizen. Addresses and Addenda of Centennial Observance of his Birth, Durham, North Carolina, October 12, 1945. Durham, North Carolina.
  23. ^ Ashe, Samuel A. (1904). "General Julian Shakespeare Carr". Men of Mark in North Carolina. Washington, D.C.: Johnson-Wynne Company.
  24. ^ "Julian Carr home built in 1794 up for sale in Hillsborough". October 30, 2021.
  25. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1799 to present". library.unc.edu. UNC Chapel Hill Libraries. Archived from the original on April 30, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  26. ^ "Gen. Julian Carr, Former Confederate Leader, Dies". The Tampa Tribune. Chicago. April 30, 1924. pp. 1, 2. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "Julian Shakespeare Carr – Carr Building". Names in Brick and Stone: Histories from UNC's Built Landscape. Archived from the original on February 13, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  28. ^ Farzan, Antonia Noori (August 21, 2018). "'Silent Sam': A racist Jim Crow-era speech inspired UNC students to topple a Confederate monument on campus". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  29. ^ "The Foremost Man in North Carolina". Henderson Gold Leaf (Henderson, North Carolina). January 3, 1889. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  30. ^ "Editorial". Christian Sun. September 6, 1900.
  31. ^ "National Training School". Greensboro Daily News. August 5, 1917. Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ Schaefer, Sam (December 9, 1999). "Opinion: Racism of his time no excuse for Julian Carr, or his apologists". News & Observer. Archived from the original on September 18, 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  33. ^ Sturkey, William (October 31, 2017). "Carr was indeed much more than Silent Sam". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on August 16, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  34. ^ Coclanis, Peter A. (November 3, 2017). "Yes, Carr was racist. And much more". Herald-Sun. Archived from the original on November 21, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  35. ^ Students in History/American Studies 671: Introduction to Public History, UNC-Chapel Hill; Dr. Anne Mitchell Whisnant (2017). "The Most Generous White Supremacist: Julian Shakespeare Carr". Names in Brick and Stone: Histories from UNC's Built Landscape. Archived from the original on February 13, 2018. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  36. ^ "North Carolina public school system bans Confederate flag, Ku Klux Klan symbols and swastikas". WYFF. Associated Press. August 25, 2017. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  37. ^ Johnson, Joe (December 1, 2018). "Julian Carr's name will be removed from Duke University building". News & Observer. Archived from the original on December 2, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  38. ^ "Carr Building to be Renamed". DukeTODAY. December 1, 2018. Archived from the original on December 2, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  39. ^ Johnson, Joe (May 10, 2018). "What's in a name? A lot for Carrboro when it comes to namesake Julian Carr". News & Observer. Archived from the original on August 29, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.

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