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Caswell, Richard

Caswell, Richard

CASWELL, RICHARD. (1729–1789). Congressman, governor of North Carolina, militia general. North Carolina. Born near Baltimore, Maryland, on 3 August 1729, Richard Caswell moved to Wake (which became Raleigh), North Carolina, when he was 17 and was, in turn, a surveyor and lawyer. Prior to the Revolution he held important political offices, including colonel of the New Bern militia, in which capacity he commanded a wing of William Tryon's army in the defeat of the Regulators at the Alamance River in 1771. He also served as speaker of the North Carolina Assembly in 1770 and 1771. He led the force that defeated the Loyalists at Moores Creek Bridge on 27 February 1776. After this victory, the assembly appointed him tobrigadier general. A delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776, Caswell presided over the Provincial Congress, which drafted the state constitution in 1776, and was elected the first governor of the state, serving from 1777 to 1780 and 1785 to 1787. In between he was in the state senate, generally as the presiding officer. In 1780 he became the major general of the North Carolina militia. In this capacity he led his troops to a humiliating defeat at Camden, where they broke and ran. He also served without distinction during the Southern Campaigns of Greene. He gave better service as chairman of the Council Extraordinary, North Carolina's board of war during Greene's campaign. Suffering a stroke while presiding over the senate, he died on 10 November 1789.

SEE ALSO Moores Creek Bridge.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Clayton B. "Richard Caswell, Leader of the Revolution." North Carolina Historical Review 23 (1946): 119-141.

                            revised by Michael Bellesiles

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