RICHARD D. SPAIGHT, the twenty-seventh governor of North Carolina, was born in New Bern, North Carolina in 1796. When he was just six years old, his father, Governor Richard D. Spaight, Sr. was killed in a duel. His education was attained at the New Bern Academy, and at the University of North Carolina, where he graduated in 1815. He went on to study law, and then established his legal career in his hometown of New Bern. Spaight first entered politics in 1819, serving as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons. He also served in the North Carolina Senate from 1820 to 1822 and 1825 to 1835; and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1823 to 1825. After five unsuccessful gubernatorial bids, Spaight finally was elected in 1835, becoming the last governor to be elected by the legislature. During his tenure, internal improvements that were to be financed by state money was contested. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Spaight retired from political life. He continued to stay active in his law practice, as well as serving as on the University of North Carolina’s Board of Trustees, a post he held twenty-nine years. Governor Richard D. Spaight passed away on November 2, 1850, and was buried in the family burial ground on the Clermont plantation near New Bern, North Carolina.
Note: Actual month and day of birth are not known.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction