Nathaniel Macon

Nathaniel Macon

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Nathaniel Macon was a spokesman for the Old Republican faction of the Democratic-Republican Party
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

 that wanted to strictly limit the United States federal government. Macon was born near Warrenton, North Carolina
Warrenton, North Carolina
Warrenton is a town in Warren County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 811 at the 2000 census. Founded in 1779, it is the county seat of Warren County. It is home to one of the campuses of Vance-Granville Community College....

, and attended the College of New Jersey
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 and served briefly in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from 1791 to 1815; from 1801 to 1807 he was Speaker of the House
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

. He served in the Senate from December, 1815, until his resignation in 1828. He was president of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835.

Political life

Macon opposed the Constitution and spent his four decades in Congress making sure the national government would remain weak. He was especially hostile to a navy. Macon detested Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 and the Federalist program. He bitterly opposed the Jay Treaty
Jay Treaty
Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution,, and...

 in 1795, the Alien and Sedition Acts
Alien and Sedition Acts
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution's reign of terror and during an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams...

 of 1798, and the movement for war with France
The Quasi-War was an undeclared war fought mostly at sea between the United States and French Republic from 1798 to 1800. In the United States, the conflict was sometimes also referred to as the Franco-American War, the Pirate Wars, or the Half-War.-Background:The Kingdom of France had been a...

 in 1798–99. He supported Jefferson's
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 purchase of Louisiana
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 in 1803 and tried to get Jefferson to purchase Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 as well. He strenuously opposed building a navy, fearing the expense would create a financial interest. He supported all of the foreign policies
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 of Jefferson and Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 from 1801 to 1817. During the Jefferson administration, Macon was offered the post of postmaster general
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

 at least twice but he declined. In 1808
United States presidential election, 1808
In the United States presidential election of 1808, the Democratic-Republican candidate James Madison defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney...

, Macon was considered a potential candidate for the vice presidency but did not run. In 1809 he chaired the foreign relations committee and reported successively the two bills that bear his name, although he was the author of neither and was definitely opposed to the second.

Macon Bill No. 1 attacked British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 shipping, but was defeated. In May 1810, Macon's Bill No. 2 was passed, giving the president power to suspend trade with either Great Britain or France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 if the other should cease to interfere with United States commerce. Macon supported Madison in declaring the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

; he opposed conscription to build the army and opposed higher taxes. He opposed the recharter of the United States Bank
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

 in 1811 and in 1816, uniformly voted against any form of protective tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

; he did favor some road construction by the federal government but generally opposed the policy of internal improvements promoted by Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 and John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

. In the Missouri debate of 1820 he voted against the compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 brokered by Clay. He was always an earnest defender of slavery. Macon was also considered a potential candidate for the presidency and also the vice presidency in 1824.

Macon was for 37 years the most prominent nay-sayer in Congress—a "negative radical". It was said of him that during the entire term of his service no ten other members cast so many negative votes. "Negation was his ward and arm." He was rural and local-minded, and economy was the passion of his public career. "His economy of the public money was the severest, sharpest, most stringent and constant refusal of almost any grant that could be proposed." With him, "not only was ... parsimony the best subsidy—but ... the only one".

Macon collaborated with John Randolph
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

 and John Taylor
John Taylor of Caroline
John Taylor usually called John Taylor of Caroline was a politician and writer. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the United States Senate . He wrote several books on politics and agriculture...

 as part of the Quids or Old Republicans
Tertium quids
The tertium quids refers to various factions of the American Democratic-Republican Party during the period 1804–1812. In Latin, tertium quid means "a third something"...

, a faction of the Jeffersonian Republican Party that rejected the Tariff Bill, growth in power of the United States Supreme Court, and other aspects of Neo-Federalism.

Early life

Nathaniel Macon was the son of Maj. Gideon Hunt Macon (1715–1762) and Priscilla Jones (1718 – March 1802). Gideon Hunt Macon was born in Virginia, but moved to North Carolina in the early 1740s. He and Priscilla were married in North Carolina in 1744.

Gideon Hunt Macon built "Macon Manor" and became a prosperous tobacco planter. Nathaniel, born at Macon Manor, was the sixth child of Gideon and Priscilla, and he was only five when his father died in 1764. Upon his death, Gideon possessed 3000 acres (12.1 km²) of land and 25–30 slaves. Nathaniel was bequeathed two parcels of land and all of his father’s blacksmithing tools. Gideon also left his son three slaves: George, Robb, and Lucy.

In 1766, Priscilla Macon arranged for the education of two of her sons, Nathaniel and John, along with the two sons of her neighbor Philemon Hawkins. For this purpose, they engaged Mr. Charles Pettigrew who later became the Principal of the Academy of Edenton in 1733. The two brothers and their neighbors, Joseph and Benjamin Hawkins, were instructed by him from 1766–1773. Three of the four boys (Nathaniel counted among them) continued on to further their education at the "College of New Jersey" at Princeton
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...


Marriage and family

Nathaniel met Hannah Plummer in 1782 in Warrenton, North Carolina
Warrenton, North Carolina
Warrenton is a town in Warren County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 811 at the 2000 census. Founded in 1779, it is the county seat of Warren County. It is home to one of the campuses of Vance-Granville Community College....

. Her parents were Virginians, as were Nathaniel's, and they were "well connected". Nathaniel was a tall man, over 6 feet (1.8 m), and considered attractive, but he was not the only man who was pursuing Miss Plummer. However, after a number of months of courtship, Hannah and Nathaniel decided to marry.

Their wedding took place on October 9, 1783, and their marriage was an affectionate one. They made their home on Hubquarter Creek on their plantation known as "Buck Spring". It was about 12 miles (19.3 km) north of Warrenton, near Roanoke, on land which Nathaniel had inherited from his father.

According to Bible records, the Macons had three children:
  • Betsy Kemp Macon (September 12, 1784 – November 10, 1829) married William John Martin (March 6, 1781 – December 11, 1828)
  • Plummer Macon (April 14, 1786 – July 26, 1792)
  • Seignora Macon (November 15, 1787 – ?)

Nathaniel's wife, Hannah, died on July 11, 1790 when she was just 29 years old. Although Nathaniel was only 32 at the time of her death, he never remarried. It is said that he was devoted to his wife, and his long unmarried life following her early death would suggest that he was faithful to her memory. Her remains were buried not far from their home on the borders of their yard. Their only son died just over a year after Hannah and was buried beside her. When Nathaniel died July 29, 1837 at age 78, he was laid to rest next to his wife and son. As he requested, the site of their graves was covered with a great heap of flint stones so that the land would be left uncultivated because Nathaniel believed that no one would want to go to the trouble of removing all of the flint in order to use the land, thereby preserving the burial site.

Nathaniel Macon is the great-grandfather of Congressman Charles Martin, the uncle of Willis Alston
Willis Alston
Willis Alston was a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina between 1825 and 1831.Born near Littleton, North Carolina in Halifax County, Alston was said to have attended Princeton College, though no records exist of his enrollment, and engaged in agricultural pursuits...

 and Micajah Thomas Hawkins
Micajah Thomas Hawkins
Micajah Thomas Hawkins was a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina from 1803 to 1809.Born near Warrenton, North Carolina in 1790, Hawkins attended Warrenton Academy and then the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A practicing farmer, Hawkins was first elected to the North Carolina House...

, great-uncle of Matt Whitaker Ransom, Robert Ransom and Thomas Jefferson Green
Thomas Jefferson Green
Thomas Jefferson Green was an American politician who served in the legislatures of three different U.S. states and also of Texas, which was not yet a state....

, great-great-uncle of Wharton Jackson Green, John Pegram
John Pegram (general)
John Pegram was a career soldier from Virginia who served as an officer in the United States Army and then as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He became the first former U.S...

, William Ransom Johnson Pegram
William Ransom Johnson Pegram
William Ransom Johnson Pegram, known as "Willie" or "Willy", was an important young artillery officer in Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War. He was mortally wounded in the Battle of Five Forks. He was the younger brother of Confederate General John...

, and David Harrison Macon, great-great-great-great-uncle of Claude Kitchin
Claude Kitchin
Claude Kitchin was a U.S. Congressional Representative from North Carolina and floor leader of his party in the House during the 64th, 65th, and 67th Congresses....

 and William Walton Kitchin
William Walton Kitchin
William Walton Kitchin was the 52nd Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1909 to 1913.-Early Life and Family:...

, and the great-great-great-great-great-uncle of Alvin Paul Kitchin
Alvin Paul Kitchin
Alvin Paul Kitchin was a U.S. Congressional representative from North Carolina.Kitchin was born in Scotland Neck, North Carolina on September 13, 1908, the grandson of William H. Kitchin and the nephew of two congressmen...



Nathaniel’s father’s parents were John Macon (December 17, 1695 – March 31, 1752) and Ann Hunt (1697 – February 15, 1725), both of Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. Nathaniel’s paternal great-grandparents were Gideon Macon
Gideon Macon
Gideon Macon was an early American settler.Gideon Macon's parents were from Loire, France, but Gideon had to have either been born in England or have become an English citizen to have been permitted to come to Virginia since only English citizens could live in the colony at the time...

 (c. 1648 – February 1701 or 1702) and Martha Woodward (1665–1723). Gideon and Martha Woodward Macon were also the great-grandparents of Martha Dandridge
Martha Washington
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is considered to be the first First Lady of the United States...

 who married George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and became First Lady of the United States of America. Therefore, Nathaniel Macon was the second cousin of Martha Dandridge Washington.
Nathaniel's ancestors in three generations
Nathaniel Macon Father:
Maj. Gideon Hunt Macon
Paternal Grandfather:
John Macon
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Col. Gideon Macon
Gideon Macon
Gideon Macon was an early American settler.Gideon Macon's parents were from Loire, France, but Gideon had to have either been born in England or have become an English citizen to have been permitted to come to Virginia since only English citizens could live in the colony at the time...

Paternal Great-grandmother:
Martha Woodward
Paternal Grandmother:
Ann Hunt
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Capt. William Hunt
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Tabitha Edloe
Priscilla Jones
Maternal Grandfather:
Col. Edward Jones
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Maternal Grandmother:
Abigail Shugan
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother:

Places named for Nathaniel Macon

  • Macon County, Alabama
    Macon County, Alabama
    Macon County is a county in the U.S. state of Alabama. Its name is in honor of Nathaniel Macon, a member of the United States Senate from North Carolina. Developed for cotton plantation agriculture in the nineteenth century, it is one of the counties in Alabama within the Black Belt of the South.As...

  • Macon County, Illinois
  • Macon County, Missouri
    Macon County, Missouri
    Macon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. As of 2010, the population was 15,566. Its county seat is Macon. The county was organized in 1837 and named for Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina politician...

  • Macon, Missouri
    Macon, Missouri
    Macon is a city in Macon County, Missouri, United States. The population was 5,471 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Macon County.-Geography:Macon is located at...

  • Macon County, North Carolina
    Macon County, North Carolina
    - Geographic features :Of the in Macon County, are federal lands that lie within the Nantahala National Forest and are administered by the United States Forest Service. Of the of USFS land, lie in the Highlands Ranger District and the remaining lie in the Wayah Ranger District...

  • Macon, Georgia
    Macon, Georgia
    Macon is a city located in central Georgia, US. Founded at the fall line of the Ocmulgee River, it is part of the Macon metropolitan area, and the county seat of Bibb County. A small portion of the city extends into Jones County. Macon is the biggest city in central Georgia...

  • Macon County, Georgia
    Macon County, Georgia
    Macon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2000 census, the population was 14,074. The 2007 Census Estimate shows a population of 13,542. The county seat is Oglethorpe.-History:...

  • Macon, North Carolina
    Macon, North Carolina
    Macon is a town located in Warren County, North Carolina. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 115. It is named for Nathaniel Macon, long-time Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Reynolds Price, James B...

  • Macon County, Tennessee
  • Randolph-Macon College
    Randolph-Macon College
    Randolph–Macon College is a private, co-educational liberal arts college located in Ashland, Virginia, United States, near the capital city of Richmond. Founded in 1830, the school has an enrollment of over 1,200 students...

External links