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David Lowry Swain
North Carolina

Gov. David Lowry Swain

  • December 6, 1832 - December 10, 1835
  • Whig
  • January 4, 1801
  • August 27, 1868
  • North Dakota
  • University of North Carolina
  • Married Eleanor H. White; four children


DAVID L. SWAIN, the twenty-sixth governor of North Carolina, was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina on January 4, 1801. His early education was attained at New Academy near Asheville, and later he attended the University of North Carolina, however he left before earning a degree. He went on to study law in Raleigh, and then established his legal career. Swain first entered politics as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, a position he held from 1824 to 1830. He also served on the North Carolina Superior Court bench from 1830 to 1832. Swain next won election to the governorship in 1832. He won reelection annually until 1834. During his tenure, railroad development was encouraged; the state’s penal laws were improved; and a new state constitution was sanctioned. After leaving office, Swain became president of the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees, a post he held from 1835 to 1868. His last political position came in 1861, when he served on the commission that represented North Carolina’s interest in the Confederate government. Swain continued to stay active and was instrumental in establishing the North Carolina Historical Society, as well as launching the University of North Carolina Magazine. Governor David L. Swain was seriously injured in a buggy accident, and consequently passed away on August 27, 1868. He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina.


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.


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