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Zebulon Baird Vance
North Carolina

Gov. Zebulon Baird Vance

  • September 8, 1862 - May 29, 1865
    January 1, 1877 - February 5, 1879
  • Democratic
  • May 13, 1830
  • April 14, 1894
  • North Carolina
  • Washington College (in Tennessee), University of North Carolina
  • Married twice—Harriet Espy, Mrs. Florence Steele Martin; four children
  • Resigned
  • Senator
  • Army


ZEBULON B. VANCE, the thirty-seventh and forty-third governor of North Carolina, was born near Asheville, North Carolina on May 13, 1830. His education was attained at Washington College in Tennessee, and at the University of North Carolina, where he studied law. He established a successful legal career, serving as the Buncombe County prosecuting attorney in 1852. Vance first entered politics in 1854, serving as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, a position he held two years. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1858 to 1861. When the Civil War started, Vance first served as captain of a Confederate regiment, and later earned the rank of colonel for his participation in the New Bern and Seven Days’ Battles. Returning to his political career, Vance won election to the governor’s office in 1862, and was reelected in 1864. During his tenure, war issues were addressed; the matter of conscription was contested; and pardons were granted to North Carolina deserters. On May 13, 1865 Governor Vance was removed from office and imprisoned for Confederate actions. Two months later he was released, and in 1867 he was pardoned. Vance returned to politics in 1868, serving as a member of the Democratic National Convention. In 1870 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, however he did not take his seat. Vance next won reelection to the governorship in 1876. During his final term, railroad construction was promoted; educational improvements were lobbied for; and state finances were improved. Upon his election to the U.S. Senate, Vance retired from the governor’s office on February 5, 1879. He then served in his senatorial seat from 1879 until April 14, 1894, when he passed away. Governor Zebulon B. Vance was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, 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.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress


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