Historical Highlights

Speaker of the House Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina

June 29, 1837
Speaker of the House Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina Image courtesy of Library of Congress This image features the home of Speaker of the House Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina known as "Buck Spring."
On this date, former Speaker of the House Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina died at his home, "Buck Spring." Macon was born into a family of planters near Warrenton, North Carolina, on December 17, 1757. At age 15, he left for the College of New Jersey (present-day Princeton University) where he studied for two years until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. In 1780, he enlisted in the Continental Army, and a year later won election to the first of three terms in North Carolina state legislature. An ardent supporter of states’ rights, Macon refused his election to the Continental Congress in 1786. He opposed the Constitutional Convention a year later and unsuccessfully advocated rejecting the document’s ratification. Macon won election to the 2nd Congress (1791–1793) as a Democratic Republican, based on his opposition to Federalist proposals to nationalize war debt, create a national bank, and enact protective tariffs. As a close ally of President Thomas Jefferson, Macon relied on the newly elected President’s support to win election as Speaker of House—an office which Macon called “the elect of the elect of all the people”—in the 7th Congress (1801–1803). Political differences with Jefferson eventually led Macon to break ranks with the President in 1805, yet he still won a narrow vote for his third term as Speaker in the 9th Congress (1805–1807). Returning to the House in the 10th Congress (1807–1809), Macon did not seek the Speakership. Instead he chaired the Foreign Relations Committee, reluctantly supporting the War of 1812 while opposing the additional taxes necessary to fund military readiness. Following the resignation of North Carolina Senator Francis Locke in 1815, the state legislature appointed Macon to the U.S. Senate, where he served until his retirement in 1828.

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