BARTHOLOMEW FIGURES MOORE [1801 – 1878], Lawyer and Unionist, Wake County, NC – His father JAMES MOORE was a soldier in the American Revolution.

from: J. P. Gibbons, “Bart F. Moore on Secession and Reconstruction,” in Historical Society of Trinity (Duke) College, ANNUAL HISTORICAL PAPERS: LEGAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL STUDIES. Series II. [Durham, NC: Trinity Department of History, 1898]: 76 – 77.

“. . . .probably nothing which brings out the true character of the man so well as the course he chose to pursue during the days of secession and reconstruction. . . he was bitterly denounced by some. . . He was then, and had been for many years, looked upon as one of the best, if not the best, lawyers in the State [of North Carolina]. . . Had he espoused the cause of secession, no man would have stood higher among the leaders than he. But fortunately Mr. Moore was prompted by higher and nobler motives than the mere mercenary, and although deserted by friends and colleagues, he remained true to his honest convictions and unhesitatingly declared his opinion whenever and wherever the opportunity presented.

Mr. Moore was not blind to the fact that the South had grounds for complaint, as he says in a letter to his daughter: ‘I would not impress upon you that the South has no cause of complaint. She has many, but if for such cause a people may quit their alliances, then there can be no durable union.”

To him there could be no reliable liberty of the State without the union of the States. He was a close student of the Constitution of the United States and thoroughly understood the principles upon which it was founded. He plainly foresaw the almost inevitable results of a union of the Southern States based upon the principle which prompted secession. A nation composed of States whose union was optional, and necessarily weak, could only come to confusion and ruin.

Probably his own words can give us the best idea of how he looked upon the matter. In his will he says:

I was unable, under my conviction of the solemn duties of patriotism, to give any excuse for, or countenance to the civil war of 1861, without sacrificing all self-respect. My judgment was the instructor of my conscience, and no man suffered greater misery than did I, as the scenes of battle unfolded the bloody carnage of war in the midst of our homes. I had been taught under the deep conviction of my judgment that there could be no reliable liberty of my State without the union of States, and being devoted to my State, I felt that I should desert her whenever I should aid to destroy the Union. I could not imagine a more terrible spectacle than that of beholding the sun shining upon the broken and dishonored fragments of States dissolved, discordant and belligerent, and on a land rent with civil feuds and drenched in fraternal blood. With this horrible picture of anarchy and blood looming up before my eyes, I could not, as a patriot, consent to welcome its approach to ‘my own native land,’ and truly was I happy when I saw the sun of peace rising with the glorious promise to shine once more on States equal, free, honored and united.”

In these tough political times in the Old North State, he supported the abolition of slavery, however, he vigorously opposed extending suffrage to the freedmen. He feared, due to their lack of education, they would use the ballot and elective office against white North Carolinians. Also, he opposed the Union establishing military control over the state and the State’s Supreme Court involving itself in politics. In his view, North Carolinians should run the state and not soldiers in the Union army. After the war, he strongly opposed the curtailment of rights and privileges of North Carolina by the government in Washington, DC and worked to assure that she stood “on an equal footing with any State in the Union.”

Further, he worried about the legal competence of the State’s Supreme Court and the willingness of a few judges, on that court, to involve themselves in political canvasses for their party. In a letter, signed by one hundred and eight other lawyers, about 1/5 of the state’s attorneys, he stated “. . . .From the unerring lessons of the past we are assured that a judge who openly and publicly displays his political party zeal renders himself unfit to hold the ‘balance of justice,’ and whenever an occasion may offer to serve his fellow-partisans he will yield to the temptation, and the ‘wavering balance’ will shake” [the State’s highest court].’ Chief Justice Pearson’s response was to disbar all lawyers who signed it , until they could appear before him “to show cause to the contrary.” Upon their appearance, he accepted their disavowal that they intended to commit contempt. They were excused but not acquitted. Simply, Bart Moore was a champion protector of the administration of justice in North Carolina.

Gibbons concludes his essay on Mr. Moore by stating, ‘The same spirit of bold opposition to what he considered harmful to the State, which characterized Mr. Moore’s course during the days of secession and reconstruction, is seen, throughout his entire life. And whatever may be said of him along other lines, he certainly stood as an unselfish protector of the people’s interests, displaying in his actions a foresight and sound judgment displayed by few.”

In a letter to his daughter, he offered a summary on his feelings about the Union by saying, “. . . .’I regard our country as the best inheritance I can leave to my children; of far greater value than all of my property. . . .’




from the OBSERVER of November 30th, 1878.

At 10:30 o’clock, on Thursday, the Supreme Court room was filled with a large number of members of the Bar resident in and visiting the city, and numerous other prominent gentlemen. The following are the members of the Bar whom we saw: Chief Justice Smith, Gov. Z. B. Vance [Civil War Governor of North Carolina] , Attorney General Kenan, Senator Merrimon, Judge Brooks, Judge Fowle, Judge Cox, Judge Howard, Col. T. C. Fuller, R. H. Battle, H. A. Gilliam, J. B. Batchelor, S. A. Ashe, A. M. Lewis, District Attorney J. W. Albertson, Jos. A. Engelhard, W. L. Saunders, C. M. Busbee, Rob’t T. Gray, F. H. Busbee, E. R. Stamps, R. C. Badger, L. R. Waddell, Jacob Battle, W. H. Bagley, Geo. Wortham, J. C. L. Harris, R. G. Lewis, L. S. Overman, Sherwood Haywood, J. Eaton Bledsoe, Armistead Jones, B. F. Montague, W. H. Kitchen.

The meeting was called to order by Mr. D. G. Fowle, upon whose motion Mr. W. N. H. Smith was called to the chair, [pages 4- 5] and was conducted to his seat by Mr. T. S. Keenan and Mr. E. R. Stamps.

Upon motion of Mr. George Howard [Edgecombe and Wilson County Delegate to the 1861 Secession Convention & Chair of the Convention’s Military Affairs Committee] , Mr. P. M. Wilson was appointed Secretary.

It was stated that the arrangements for the funeral had been completed, and upon motion of Mr. A. M. Lewis, amended by Mr. D. G. Fowle, it was resolved that the members of the Bar assemble at the late residence of the deceased to accompany his remains to the cemetery in a body.

Mr. Wm. R. Cox moved that a committee of five be appointed to draft Resolutions of Respect in memory of the deceased, to report to a subsequent meeting of the Bar to be called by the chair.

It was suggested by Mr. Z. B. Vance that the adjourned meeting should not be called until the session of the Supreme Court, to enable as large a number as possible of the Bar of the State to attend.

The Chairman appointed as the committee of five under the resolution: Mr. W. R. Cox, chairman; Messrs. J. B. Batchelor, R. C. Badger, H. A. Gilliam, D. G. Fowle.

Upon motion of Mr. R. G. Lewis, the meeting adjourned.


P. M. WILSON, Sec’y.



Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Bar:

Death loves a shining mark. On Wednesday, the 27th day of November, 1878, all that was mortal of BARTHOLOMEW FIGURES MOORE died; not only have the form and visage, ripened and mellowed by venerable age, which for many years were so tenderly familiar to every member of this community in all the homely intercourse of daily life, gone from us forever—but ‘certain also it is, when a great learned man (who is long in making) dieth, much learning dieth with him.’ With all customary ceremony and respect we have deposited his mortal remains in their last resting place: for ‘man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, pompous in the grave; solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery in the infamy of his nature.’ It was the last service we could render to the mortal part of our deceased brother. So then let him rest; and peace be to his ashes; one more riddle of life has passed with his soul into eternity.

[eds. Note: after a long-winded, wandering through the platitudes of history, literature, philosophy and politics back to the Greeks, he finally arrives at the moment in his speech to offer an estimate of the life of Bart Moore]

“. . . Mr. MOORE was by conviction a Federalist—both in politics, and in the construction which as a lawyer he gave to the Constitution of the United States; he denied always, and from first to last, the right of secession; he thought the only safety for his people, for the State, for the Nation, for civil liberty even, was in the perpetuation of the Union; with his far-seeing intellect, he knew and foretold the fierce struggle to come, and the bloodshed, the evil passions, the crime, the suffering, which would accompany it: its failure: the dreadful consequences: the perils to all civil liberty, and all rights of person and property, which would result, and many of which are not yet past: he made no secret of his opinions and his feelings ever at any time—he was constant in season and out of season in proclaiming them from the housetops, and in endeavoring to convert others to his views: to him the result—the failure—was always present in all its shocking and useless reality: and when the good opinion of his neighbors and friends (which he cherished as much as any man) was at stake—and his liberty—his future—his reputation—his very life—was on the hazard of the die—he yet stood steadfast as the Northern Star—“of whose true fixed and resting quality, there is no fellow in the firmament.”

Which of his fault finders would have done as much under like circumstances? Which one of us, I pray you, Oh! hot blooded secessionists—Hebrew of the Hebrews—if we had had his prevision would have obeyed the dictates of our convictions and have exhibited such courageous virtue? And how many of us are there, who, seeing the result now, as he always saw it, long to undo the inevitable past? His critics may, for aught I know, ‘have revelations from Heaven like Mr. Percival, or pure anticipated cognitions [pages 36- 37] like the disciples of Kant;’ but such a poor creature as BARTHOLOMEW F. MOORE had nothing but observation, and reason and duty to guide him, and he obeyed the guidance of observation, and reason, and duty, under trials and temptations, which it is to be hoped, for the sake of the public virtue of the country, are not to become common. I protest before you, this day, that in the presence of such manly, unselfish, heroic virtue, I uncover my head, and put off the shoes from my feet, and lift up my heart to God in thankfulness, for the example of this faithful soldier and servant of His—for the presence in which we stand is holy.

According to his lights he did his duty—a hard and painful duty it was—and the event has proved that his lights were as true as the Sun in Heaven. Every man is to be judged, so far as human judgment is to be passed upon him at all, by the tenor of the motives which actuated him in the case in hand; and to which the main current of his days has responded. Judged by this standard, the course of BARTHOLOMEW F. MOORE with reference to the late social war, must command the deliberate admiration even of those who most earnestly condemned the action upon which he decided, in that solemn and imperative crisis of his life. It is not my aim to-day to criticise, nor to broach political questions, but to pay a tribute of respect and honor to a great man, who struck fairly and nobly for the side he took under circumstances of exceeding perplexity, sincerely believing it to be the side to which patriotism and honor summoned him. There are too many men in the world who willfully go wrong, from base, and venal, and selfish motives. Let us be just to the brave and good, who, if they do err, err because human judgment is fallible, the circumstances of their position difficult, and the path of duty, which they wish to follow, is not, to their eyes, clearly discernable. If we have censures to bestow, let us reserve them for those false and feeble souls, whose half-hearted support was ostensibly given to us, while the war went on, and it was dangerous to be even neutral; but, who, when our cause was lost, and our idol lay shattered in the dust, made haste to protest that they had served us not all, or only for the purpose of betraying the cause which they pretended to embrace—to perjure themselves with iron-clad oaths—to crawl and sting and stink—and fawn upon the Federal government, and cringe, and lie, as only sycophants and cowards can, “that thrift might follow fawning.”

full publication of the services and speeches at Bart Moore’s funeral are found in the collection of the Eastern North Carolina Digital Library Online, East Carolina University. at:


from: THE OBSERVER of 28 November 1878 “The Death of Mr. Moore.”

Mr. MOORE was strongly opposed to the action of the seceding States of the South in 1861, because he was thoroughly convinced that the happiness, prosperity and welfare of the whole country, including his own section, could only be preserved and promoted by the maintenance intact of the Federal Union. This view he supported openly by letters to the public press, to private individuals and in conversation at all times and almost under all circumstances. His views and opinions for once, however, fell upon unwilling ears, and a vast majority of his fellow citizens, while still conscious of the honesty of his intent and the integrity of his purpose, paid no heed to his counsels. They did, indeed, regret his course, but none the less did they respect him, for well did they know that never was there an hour, or a minute, or a second, when he was not true to the heart’s core to what he honestly believed to be for the best interest of North Carolina and her people. Indeed, one of the strongest and most unfading, unchanging characteristics was his attachment for his native State and her people. Born a North Carolinian and ever resident with her people, he never failed in his regard for the State of his birth; and her people for a life time were the people of his unwavering preference.”


From: Bart Moore’s Amnesty Petition for a Pardon to President Andrew Johnson:

“During the awful excitement of the popular mind, which grew wilder and furious till the ordinance of secession of 20th May (1861), I continued still to lift my voice against the proposed separation and I never consented to the unfortunate and rebellious deed, though the State was the last to withdraw, and though its probable fate, had it adhered to the Union, would have been civil war. I was convinced that with proper, firm representatives and under a loyal governor of the state might have stayed the angry waves of the rebellion by cutting off the means of communication between Virginia and the other seceding states. My grief was indescribable when the flag of the Union was torn down and that of the so-called Confederacy was raised in its place. And, although I never looked on its extended folds, but ever turned my eyes from the hated object, wherever, and wherever it presented itself before me, and although I never for a moment desired a separation of the States, I am advised that I may by not, if not by intent (“intent” underlined by him), have participated in the rebellion first, because I have voted in the elections. I admit it. But I aver that my object was to secure the selection of men, who, I believed, would most affectionately guard the citizens from the civil tyranny, which was preying on the land, who would be more ready to lead us back into the Union. Secondly, for a while in 1861 and 1860 I consented to act and did act as an auditor of claims proffered against the State of North Carolina. This I admit also. But I affirm that my reason for discharging the duty was to prevent imposition on the State and preserve it from bankruptcy. I took no oath of allegiance then or since to the so-called Confederate states; nor have I taken one to the altered Constitution of the State. I abandoned the Confederate courts, because it was being required by those who practiced in them to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States. Thirdly, because I have contributed by gift things to make my son, who was, against my will, in the military services, serving as a private, more comfortable than he was under the army allowances. This I admit too. But, this was done of paternal feeling and not with any purpose to aid the rebellion. Fourthly, because I have voluntarily fed and administered to the wants of persons in the Confederate service where they are hungry or sick and afflicted. I admit this also. It was done of charity and through the same motive which induced me and my family to contribute, as was often done, to the hungry and other wants.

I rejoiced at the return of peace and the Union. . . .Those whom I owned as slaves are regarded and healed by me as freedmen and are well cared for. My family consists of a wife and nine children, eight of whom reside with me. I have taken the oath presented in the Amnesty Proclamation on 20 May 1865 and will faithfully abide its terms.

B. F. Moore

26 July 1865

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