Guide to the William Woods Holden Papers, 1834-1929 and undated
William Woods Holden was a journalist and Republican governor of North Carolina during Reconstruction. He was the owner and editor of the North Carolina Standard newspaper from 1843 to 1860, during which time he and the paper were affiliated with the Democratic Party. He was elected governor as a Republican in 1868, but was impeached by the Democratic state legislature in 1870 for his efforts to combat the Ku Klux Klan. Collection consists of correspondence, memoirs, business papers, legal documents, poems, and other papers. Of note are depositions and other evidence gathered by Holden and his supporters of various members of the Ku Klux Klan, documenting their membership and activities during 1869-1870. Also includes Holden family papers, including scrapbooks and account books kept by Holden's wife and daughters.
- Collection Number
- William Woods Holden papers
- 1834-1929 and undated
- 4.0 Linear Feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
The collection documents Holden's career as a journalist and politician, including his shift in party allegiance from Democrat to Republican during the Civil War. He served as the 28th and 30th governor of North Carolina.
Pre-Civil War letters deal mainly with personal and legal matters and with the Democratic convention in Charleston, S.C., 1860, and presidential election of 1860. Post-war materials concern the history of journalism in North Carolina; Holden's appointment by Andrew Johnson as provisional governor of North Carolina in 1865; his election as governor in 1868; Reconstruction policies; Ku Klux Klan activity in the state; the Kirk-Holden War; the "Ferrell Matter," a debt case in which Holden was the guarantor; Holden's impeachment as governor in 1870; his conviction by the N.C. Senate in 1871; his appointment as postmaster by Ulysses S. Grant in 1873; and life and politics in Washington during the period of Radical control. Of note are depositions and other evidence gathered by Holden and his supporters of various members of the Ku Klux Klan, documenting their membership and activities during 1869-1870.
The collection also includes Holden family papers, including scrapbooks and account books kept by Holden's wife and daughters; Holden's memoirs, recorded by his daughter Mary Holden Sherwood and edited by W.K. Boyd as part of the Trinity College Historical Society; some family photographs and materials related to the Holden homestead in Raleigh, N.C.; writings and poetry by Holden and his son, Joseph Holden; obituaries and clippings about Holden and his legacy; and other assorted personal and financial papers. Though removed from public life, Holden continued to write about public policy and government, sometimes critical of both parties, until his death in 1892.
Arranged into series: Correspondence, Political Materials, Legal Materials, Memoirs, and Personal Materials.
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], William Woods Holden papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Booklet with printed account of Holden's impeachment from 1870, with annotations from 1891.
Certificate is in two pieces.
William Woods Holden (1818-1892) was a journalist and Republican governor of North Carolina from Raleigh (Wake Co.) N.C.. He was owner and editor of the North Carolina Standard newspaper from 1843 to 1860, during which time he was a member of the Democratic Party. He served as a N.C. delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, S.C., in 1860. As the Civil War progressed, Holden criticized the Confederate government and became a leader of the North Carolina peace movement. In May 1865 President Andrew Johnson appointed him provisional governor of North Carolina, serving until December 1865. In 1868 he ran and won as the Republican candidate for governor. In an effort to combat the Ku Klux Klan, Holden suspended habeas corpus and imposed martial law on Alamance and Caswell counties. He was impeached in 1870 by the Democratic state legislature on eight charges related to the rough treatment of North Carolina citizens due to his efforts to combat the Ku Klux Klan. He was convicted of six of the eight charges and removed from office in 1871. Following his removal from office, Holden moved to Washington, D.C. and resumed a career in journalism. In 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him postmaster, a position he held in Raleigh until 1881.
Holden was married twice: first to Ann Augusta Young, who died in 1852 and with whom he had four children. He married Louisa Virginia Harrison, a widow with four children of her own, in 1854. He died in Raleigh in 1892.
Holden was sued by a rival newspaperman, Josiah Turner, in 1885, following Turner's arrest by Holden during his term as governor. The suit continued into the 1890s, despite Holden's being incapacitated by poor health. His wife, Louisa Virginia Holden, acted in his place and the suit was continued against her after Holden's death in 1892. Turner lost the suit in 1894.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Democratic Party (U.S.)
- Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885
- Holden, W.W. (William Woods), 1818-1892
- Holden, Joseph William, 1844-1875
- Holden family
- Johnson, Andrew
- Ku Klux Klan (1915- ) -- North Carolina
- Governors -- North Carolina
- Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1860
- Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- North Carolina
The William Woods Holden papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift and purchase, between 1933 and 1975.
Processed by Meghan Lyon, April 2016. Finding aid written by RL Staff, Katrina Martin, and Meghan Lyon, April 2016.