James Kenan and the Family Legacy

James Kenan and the Family LegacyOn September 23, 1740, civic, military and political leader James Kenan was born.

Kenan began his long career in public service at age 22 when he was elected sheriff of Duplin County. After leading local opposition to the British Stamp Act, he served in the colonial assembly and the provincial congress. As a member of the militia in Duplin County, he helped lead a group of volunteers against Scottish Loyalists at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge in 1776.

Kenan continued his involvement in politics after the Revolutionary War, serving in the state Senate for more than 10 terms and as a delegate to the State Constitutional Conventions.

Outside of the political arena, Kenan was a member of the original board of trustees for the University of North Carolina, where several buildings are now named for the Kenan family. He was also the first Master of the original Masonic lodge in Duplin County.

Kenan died in 1810 and is buried in Kenansville. His descendants have continued his legacy of philanthropy and public service, making significant contributions to the arts and education in North Carolina.

Liberty Hall, his father’s plantation and the site of his grave, is now open to the public as a museum.