Nathaniel Macon, Advocate of Checks on Government

Nathaniel Macon, Oil on canvas, Robert D. Gauley, 1911, Collection of U.S. House of RepresentativesOn June 29, 1837, Nathaniel Macon died at his plantation in Warren County. In a long political career, Macon held various positions. Throughout his career, he remained an advocate for the agricultural, social and economic values of North Carolina.

Born in late 1758, Macon received a rudimentary education at a makeshift school in Bute (now Warren) County. After studying at what is now Princeton University, Macon joined the New Jersey militia at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. At the war’s end, Macon returned to North Carolina and was elected to the State Senate He went on to serve for 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the U.S. Senate.

Throughout his career, Macon was known for a simple, blunt and unreserved political philosophy that reflected his modest upbringing. An ardent anti-federalist, Macon was wary of a large federal government that strayed from guideposts of the Constitution. Macon retired from politics at the age 70, choosing to spend his remaining days at his plantation. Fort Macon; Macon County; Macon, Georgia; and Virginia’s Randolph-Macon College are all named in his honor.

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