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William Woods Holden
North Carolina

Gov. William Woods Holden

  • May 9, 1865 - December 15, 1865
    July 1, 1868 - December 15, 1870
  • Republican
  • November 24, 1818
  • March 1, 1892
  • North Carolina
  • Married twice—Anne Young, Louisa Virginia Harrison; three children


WILLIAM W. HOLDEN, the thirty-eighth and fortieth governor of North Carolina, was born near Hillsborough, North Carolina on November 24, 1818. His early education was attained in the common schools of his native state. He later studied law and in 1841 was admitted to the bar. Holden also established a successful career in the newspaper business. He started when he was ten years old, working as an apprentice at the Hillsborough Recorder. He eventually worked at the Raleigh Star, and later became owner and editor of the North Carolina Standard. Holden entered politics as a Whig, but in 1843 he joined the Democratic Party, and later still became a Republican in 1867. In his first political position, he served as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, an office he held from 1846 to 1847. He also served as a delegate to the 1861 Secession Convention, joining the vote to secede from the Union. However, his views changed, and he later promoted peace, as well as criticizing the Confederate government. President Johnson appointed Holden the Provisional Governor on May 29, 1865. Three years later he was reelected to a second term. During his tenure, anti- Ku Klux Klan acts were sanctioned; and corruption accusations, as well as misappropriation charges were launched against his administration. Holden was impeached and removed from office. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he resumed his newspaper career. In 1873 he returned to North Carolina and became the postmaster of Raleigh, a post he held until his death. Governor William W. Holden passed away on March 1, 1892, and 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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