Sunday, March 27, 2011

A pardon for William Holden?

Who was William Holden and why does Rep. Senator Neal Hunt want to pardon him?

In short Holden was a newspaper editor and owner in North Carolina that built up the Republican Party that we know today. In addition to helping to stabilizing the state during the Reconstruction ear Holden was elected to the position of governor of North Carolina in 1868 (he had been appointed governor for a short time in 1865 shortly after the Civil War ended but lost an official election later that year).

One of Holden's major accomplishments was the quelling of racial violence in Caswell and Alamance counties in the last 1860s. After first sending in detectives the governor next sent in state militia to stop the Ku Klux Klan. Holden's efforts did relatively little in the way of putting an end to the Klan's racist activities but his actions led to a political changeup that resulted in the Republican Party losing is control to Democrats in the legislative houses of The Tar Heel state.

In response the Democratic party impeached Holden in 1871. Among the charges were claims that Holden's handling of the situations of in Alamance and Caswell counties resulted in rough treatment and unfair arrests. As a result of the Democratic dominance the vote to convict and remove did not go in Holden's favor, thus making him the second governor in American history to be impeached and the first to be result in conviction and removal.

This past week Hunt proposed a resolution to pardon Holden. You would think that such a thing would not be a bad idea right? Wrong. It would seem that sometime later an anonymous letter appeared that spoke ill of Holden and his actions.

Also hoping to prevent a pardon for Holden is 17 year old Sterling Carter. According to Carter and his research of documents from that era he says that it was not state militia that was sent to those counties but hired soldiers from Tennessee (which would kinda make them mercenaries if true). However one could argue that Carter is biased due to him being from Yanceyville, which is located in Caswell County.

So what do you think? Should Holden be pardoned and remembered as an anti-racist opponent of the KKK or was he a oppressive governor that bullied innocent and thus deserved his current place in the history books?