Holden, William Woods

Life Span
Full name
William Woods Holden
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Slave State
Attorney or Judge
Church or Religious Denomination
Political Parties
Southern Democratic (1860)
Johnson Administration (1865-69)
State legislature

William Woods Holden (American National Biography)

Holden organized the Constitutional Union party in the state that in February 1861 defeated the secessionist effort to call a convention that could take the state out of the Union. In the brief campaign Holden warned that secession "would end in civil war, in military despotism, and in the destruction of slave property. Let us give the Northern people time. . . . The Constitution will be restored, and Mr. Lincoln and his party will be hurled from power in 1864." The fighting at Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for troops to suppress the rebellion in April, however, caused Holden to reverse his position and call on North Carolinians to resist Lincoln's "gross usurpation" of power. As a delegate to the state convention in May, he voted for the ordinance that took North Carolina out of the Union and into the Confederacy.

Hardly had the war begun when Holden began to criticize state authorities and the Jefferson Davis administration for discriminating against old Union party men in their military appointments and for suppressing North Carolina liberties. The fall of a large area of coastal North Carolina to federal forces and the adoption of conscription by the Richmond government in early 1862 gave Holden additional ammunition to use against Confederate authorities. He soon organized the Conservative party, secured the nomination of young Zebulon B. Vance for governor, and through the columns of the Standard led the new party to victory at the polls.
William C. Harris, "Holden, William Woods," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-00776.html.
Chicago Style Entry Link
Crofts, Daniel W. Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. view record
Harris, William C. William Woods Holden: Firebrand of North Carolina Politics. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987. view record
Holden, William Woods. Memoirs of W. W. Holden. Durham, NC: The Seeman Printer, 1911. view record
Raper, Horace W. "William W. Holden and the Peace Movement in North Carolina." North Carolina Historical Review 31, no. 4 (1954): 493-516. view record
Raper, Horace W. William W. Holden: North Carolina's Political Enigma. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985. view record
Trelease, Allen W. "Review Essay: On Making Sense of William W. Holden." North Carolina Historical Review 65, no. 3 (1988): 353-358. view record
How to Cite This Page: "Holden, William Woods," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/5916.