William B. Umstead

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William Bradley Umstead
William Bradley Umstead.jpg
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
December 18, 1946 – December 30, 1948
Appointed byR. Gregg Cherry
Preceded byJosiah Bailey
Succeeded byJ. Melville Broughton
63rd Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 8, 1953 – November 7, 1954
LieutenantLuther H. Hodges
Preceded byW. Kerr Scott
Succeeded byLuther H. Hodges
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1939
Preceded byJ. Bayard Clark
Succeeded byCarl T. Durham
Personal details
Born(1895-05-13)May 13, 1895
Mangum Township, Durham County, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedNovember 7, 1954(1954-11-07) (aged 59)
Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
Resting placeMount Tabor Church Cemetery Durham, North Carolina
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Trinity College
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1917–1918
RankUS-O2 insignia.svg First Lieutenant
Battles/warsWorld War I

William Bradley Umstead (May 13, 1895 – November 7, 1954) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator and the 63rd Governor of North Carolina from 1953 to 1954.

Early life and education[edit]

Umstead was born in the northern Durham County town of Bahama in 1895. In 1916, he earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the Philanthropic Society.


Umstead taught high school history for approximately one school year before joining the army after the U.S. entry into World War I. He served as an officer and saw combat in France; Umstead was discharged in 1919 as a first lieutenant. He later entered law school at Trinity College (now Duke University). Umstead was a prosecutor for most of his legal career and served as the elected solicitor (today called district attorney) for a five-county district from 1927 to 1933.

He served from 1933 to 1939 in the United States House of Representatives, choosing not to seek re-election in 1938. Umstead was chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party for several years until he was appointed to fill a vacant United States Senate seat in 1946. Defeated for a Senate term of his own in 1948, Umstead ran for governor in 1952 and won. However, on 10 January 1953, only two days after his inauguration, Umstead was crippled by a heart attack.

In June, 1954, Umstead appointed Sam Ervin to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Clyde Hoey, who had died in office.


Umstead was constantly in ill health until his death nearly two years after his 1953 heart attack, upon which he was succeeded as governor by Luther H. Hodges.[1] Umstead is buried in the Mount Tabor Church Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina.

William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina was named in his honor in 1966.[2]


  1. ^ Warner, Seth. "Governor William Bradley Umstead".
  2. ^ "History of William B. Umstead State Park". N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
W. Kerr Scott
Democratic nominee for Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Luther H. Hodges
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
J. Bayard Clark
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 6th congressional district

March 4, 1933-January 3, 1939
Succeeded by
Carl T. Durham
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Josiah William Bailey
U.S. senator (Class 2) from North Carolina
December 18, 1946– December 30, 1948
Served alongside: Clyde Roark Hoey
Succeeded by
Joseph Melville Broughton
Political offices
Preceded by
W. Kerr Scott
Governor of North Carolina
January 8, 1953– November 7, 1954
Succeeded by
Luther H. Hodges