Julian Carr (industrialist)

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Julian Carr
Julian Shakespeare Carr (1845-1924).jpg
Born October 12, 1845
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Died April 29, 1924(1924-04-29) (aged 78)
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Occupation Industrialist, philanthropist
Known for Namesake of Carrboro

Julian Shakespeare Carr (October 12, 1845 – April 29, 1924) was a North Carolina industrialist, philanthropist, and white supremacist. He was married to Nannie Carr, with whom he had two daughters (including Eliza Carr) and three sons.

Carr was the son of Chapel Hill merchant and slave owner John Wesley Carr and Eliza P. Carr (née Eliza Pannell Bullock), and entered the University of North Carolina (today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) at 16. His studies were interrupted by service as a private in the Confederacy, serving with the Third North Carolina Cavalry. Later in life, he was known as "General Carr," the rank having been bestowed by the state veterans' association due to his long service in veterans' affairs and generosity toward widows and their children. Carr also 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.[1][2][3] In 1923, UNC bestowed an honorary degree upon Julian Carr.[4]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Carr married Nannie Graham Parrish, daughter of Colonel D.C. Parrish, in 1873. They had six children. Their residence, Somerset Villa, was "an ornament to Durham".[5]


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.[6][7] 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,[8] at which he gave a speech.[9] He served as a delegate himself to the 1912 convention.

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, argued that African Americans should not be allowed to vote, and helped promote racial unrest and turmoil in the late 19th century to defeat an interracial "Fusion" political party. Carr helped promote racial strife through his influence in the media, particularly the Raleigh News & Observer, and celebrated the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, 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.[1]

At the dedication of the Silent Sam monument to Confederate alumni on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, to which he was the largest single donor, Carr addressed the crowd, urging vigorous support for white supremacy, and bragged of having personally horse-whipped an African-American woman "until her skirts hung in shreds" because, according to him, she "publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady". He found this act a "pleasing duty."[10] This passage received 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.[11]


Carr was also instrumental in the founding of Duke University (where the history building on East Campus is named after him). 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 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 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony 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."[12]

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 Civil War Monument (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 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.[13]

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.[citation needed]

Conflicting assessments[edit]

Conflict about how Carr should be seen today goes back at least to 1999, when UNC alumnus Sam Shaefer said: "I cannot believe the condescension dripping through Dr. Peter Coclanis’ op-ed from Nov. 3 [1999, not located] responding to a previous op-ed by Dr. William Sturkey.... No one is arguing that we should not attempt to understand Carr in all of his complexities. The idea, however, of honoring him, upholding him as an example of a life well-lived, is absurd. Carr was a person who 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."[14]

The same difference of opinion emerged again during the dispute about the University's Silent Sam monument. Peter Coclanis, Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, urged readers to look beyond Julian Carr’s 1913 Silent Sam speech: "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."[10]

William Sturkey, Assistant Professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill, replied: "Coclanis suggests Carr is a contemporary victim of presentism – 'a man of his times' – who has received undue criticism that overlooks his broader accomplishments by focusing on one particular speech. This highly selective historical interpretation inaccurately portrays Carr as an otherwise generous philanthropist, unfairly vilified over a single bad moment or poor choice of words. Let us not mince words: No, absolutely not. 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."[15]

Coclanis replid to Stuckey: "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."[16]

Removal of Carr's name[edit]

  • The Durham Board of Education voted to remove Julian Carr's name from a building 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 the Ku Klux Klan.[17]
  • The Duke University History Department, after the toppling of Silent Sam and the attention it gave to Carr’s words, requesting the naming of Carr Hall, where the department is housed. This requires the approval of the Board of Trustees.[18]
  • A petition has circulated calling for the town name of Carrboro to be changed.[10] 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".[19]


  1. ^ a b Sturkey, William (October 31, 2017). "Carr was indeed much more than Silent Sam". The Herald-Sun. Retrieved August 22, 2018. 
  2. ^ "Julian Shakespeare Carr – Carr Building". Names in Brick and Stone: Histories from UNC's Built Landscape. Retrieved August 22, 2018. 
  3. ^ 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. Retrieved August 22, 2018. 
  4. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1799 to present". library.unc.edu. UNC Chapel Hill Libraries. Retrieved August 23, 2018. 
  5. ^ Ashe, Samuel A. (1904). "General Julian Shakespeare Carr". Men of Mark in North Carolina. Washington, D.C.: Johnson-Wynne Company. 
  6. ^ Pope, Kristen (January 24, 2007). "From Mill to Mall". Carrboro Commons. Retrieved August 23, 2018. 
  7. ^ "History of Carrboro". Carrboro, NC - Official Website. Retrieved August 23, 2018. 
  8. ^ The World Almanac and Encyclopedia. Press Publishing Company (The New York World). 1901. p. 131. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ a b c Coclanis, Peter A. (September 26, 2017). "Julian Carr did wrong, but also a good deal right". News & Observer. 
  11. ^ Domby, Adam (January 20, 2011). "Why Silent Sam was built: A historian's perspective". Daily Tar Heel. 
  12. ^ Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Anthony, Susan Brownell; Gage, Matilda Joslyn; Harper, Ida Husted (1922). History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920. Fowler & Wells Company. pp. 491, 497. 
  13. ^ "Unveiling of Confederate Monument at University". The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. Retrieved August 23, 2018. Julian Shakespeare Carr Papers, 1892-1923. Folder 26: Addresses, 1912-1914: Scan 93 through Scan 112 
  14. ^ Schaefer, Sam (December 9, 1999). "Opinion: Racism of his time no excuse for Julian Carr, or his apologists". News & Observer. 
  15. ^ Sturkey, William (October 31, 2017). "Carr was indeed much more than Silent Sam". Herald Sun. 
  16. ^ Coclanis, Peter A. (November 3, 2017). "Yes, Carr was racist. And much more". Herald-Sun. 
  17. ^ Associated Press (August 25, 2017). "North Carolina public school system bans Confederate flag, Ku Klux Klan symbols and swastikas". WYFF. 
  18. ^ Leonard, Ben (August 27, 2018). "Duke history department files request to rename Carr Building". Duke Chronicle. 
  19. ^ Johnson, Joe (May 10, 2018). "What's in a name? A lot for Carrboro when it comes to namesake Julian Carr". News & Observer. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Webb, Mena (1987). Jule Carr: General Without an Army. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 
  • Ashe, Samuel A. (1904). "General Julian Shakespeare Carr". Men of Mark in North Carolina. Washington, D.C.: Johnson-Wynne Company. 

External links[edit]