William H. Kitchin

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William Hodge Kitchin (December 22, 1837 – February 2, 1901) was a one-term U.S. Congressional representative from North Carolina. A Confederate war veteran and white supremacist, Kitchin spent much of his political career attempting to curb African American advances within the state. He left a North Carolina political dynasty of sorts, as his sons, Claude Kitchin and William Walton Kitchin, and a grandson, Alvin Paul Kitchin, were all prominent politicians, and another son, Thurman Delna Kitchin, was a long-time president of Wake Forest College.

Background[edit]

Kitchin was born in Lauderdale County, Alabama, December 22, 1837. He moved with his parents to North Carolina in 1841 and later attended Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. He left college in April 1861 to enlist in the Confederate States Army, was promoted to the rank of captain in 1863 and served throughout the Civil War. After the war, Kitchin studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1869 and practiced in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. He traveled to California to settle a land claim that resulted in a princely fee for him of $20,000; as an obituary in his home town newspaper noted upon his death thirty years later, the money made him "easy" in the business world.

Political career[edit]

In 1878, Kitchin was elected from North Carolina's 2nd U.S. House district as a Democrat to the Forty-sixth United States Congress (March 4, 1879-March 3, 1881). His election was tainted by accusations of irregularities and was aided by a split among Republicans between candidates James E. O'Hara and James Harris (both African-Americans).[1] O'Hara unsuccessfully contested the election.[2] [3]

Kitchin was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1880. A bombastic orator, especially harsh toward black political influence in his area of the state, Kitchin nevertheless joined the People's Party or Populists, served on its state executive committee in the mid-1890s, and worked with them for a time to build an alliance with African American voters. Although disillusioned with his new allies because of the "fusion" rule between Populists and Republicans in the state legislature in 1895, he was a delegate to the national Populist convention in 1896 where he worked to gain the party's nomination of the Democratic slate (William J. Bryan and Arthur Sewall) that year.[4] He returned to the Democratic party, now one of "white men and white metal" (silver), both important issues to him. Kitchin died in Scotland Neck, North Carolina on February 2, 1901.

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United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Curtis H. Brogden
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 2nd congressional district

1879–1881
Succeeded by
Orlando Hubbs