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T H E V I S I O N O F A R C H I B A L D D . M U R P H E Y SMALL GROUP of North Carolinians who were deeply concerned about the unsavory reputation of their state acrossthe nation between 1815 and 1840 not only eliminated its causes but also set the state on a totally new course. The leadersof this movement included Bartlett Yancey, Joseph Caldwell, Charles Fisher, David L. Swain, William Gaston, John Motley Morehead, and William A. Graham. But foremost wasArchibald DeBow Murphey. As a representative of Orange County in the North Carolina Senate from 1812 until 1818, he championed a system of public education, internal improvements, and constitutional reform. Reflecting on events during his own public career, former governor WilliamA. Graham in 1860 wrote that it was Murphey who "inaugurated a new era in the public policy of this State" and left to posterity "the noblest monuments of philosophic statesmanship to be found in our public archives since the days of the Revolution." Murphey's Preparation for Leadership Murphey was born in Caswell County about 1777 and attended David Caldwell 's school at what is now Greensboro. He was graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina in 1799 and remained in Chapel Hill for two yearsasa tutor and professorof ancient languageswhilealso studying lawin Hillsborough. In 1801 he qualified for the bar and soon began to practice law in Hillsborough. From 1818 to 1820 he was a superior court judge and frequently acted asaspecialjusticeof the supreme court when it heard casesin which one of the three regular justices had been counsel or on the lower bench during litigation leadingto the appeal. He alsoedited three volumes of reports on casesheard between 1804 and 1819. Among his many additional occupations, Murphey became the owner of agristmill and a country store in Orange County. He wasa planter who owned 48 slaves in 1829 but only 7in 1830. He frequently purchased adjoining or nearby land, often with borrowed money. He also acquired land in 253 13 A 254 North Carolina through four Centuries Archibald DeBow Murphey (i777?-i832), teacher, attorney, planter, legislator, and judge, made hisgreatest contribution to his nativestatein none of these professions. In fact, even in his greatness he was unsuccessful. He was a planner, a dreamer, and a schemer—all for the benefit of North Carolina. In anticipation of improvement, he projected plans for good transportation, quality schools, more productive agriculture, the elimination of slaver}', and the preparation of a state history. The state, however, had to await better times to implement his ideas, and he died before they came to fruition. (North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh) various parts of the state adjacent to rivers marked for navigational improvement under the state's internal improvements program. One of Murphey's ambitions wasto write a history of the state. He collected materials, interviewed Revolutionary leaders, and petitioned the legislature for appropriations with which to copy documents in British archives. If the people of the state understood the origin and effect of past events in their part of the world, hebelieved, they would take more pride in North Carolina and its future. Only an excellent outline and an introductory chapter were ever completed. 255 The Vision of Archibald D. Murphey Joseph Caldwell (1773-1835), president of the University of North Carolina, aided and abetted Archibald Murphey in his plans. Caldwell spoke frequently in support of a program of progress for North Carolina. He also wrote several popular pamphlets. One on education contained instructions for organizing schools, plans for schoolhouses, and a course of study. Another advocated the building of railroads, which were still in their infancy; these, he maintained, would open new marketsfor the state, provide a means of communication across the land, and enable many people to rise above the poverty level. (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolinaat Chapel Hill) In politics he was a scholar and an idealist; his social concepts were quite advanced for his time, and in later years he was recognized as the prophet of a new era. Yethe was a poor business manager and suffered financially throughout most of his life; he even spent a brief time in jail because he could not pay his debts. Although trained as a lawyer, Murphey did not consider law his primary interest. He was much more concerned with the improvement of economic and social conditions in North Carolina. Like many others of his time...


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