Burke’s Waightstill Avery, First Attorney General

Waightstill Avery, First Attorney General of North Carolina, 1777-79, member provincial Congresses, colonel in Revolution. "Swan Ponds," his home, was 3 mi. S.W.

On March 13, 1821, North Carolina’s first attorney general, Waightstill Avery, died in Morganton.

A native of Connecticut, the Princeton-educated Avery came to North Carolina by way of Edenton in 1769 and was granted permission to practice law in the state. While living in Charlotte in 1772, Avery was elected to serve in the provincial assembly.

He was a signer of the 1775 Mecklenburg Resolves that declared all laws of the British Crown void and suspended authority of the King and Parliament.

Instrumental in establishing North Carolina’s early statehood, Avery served on the committee to draft the state’s first constitution and literally wrote most of the document. He attended the first meeting of the General Assembly held in New Bern in 1777, and while there was appointed North Carolina’s first attorney general.

For his part in the revolutionary cause, Lord Charles Cornwallis had Avery’s office set afire.

Married with four children, Avery joined his family in Burke County at Swan Pond plantation after the Revolution. Between 1782 and 1796 he served several terms in the state House of Commons and one senate term.

Avery was known for his manners, gentlemanly demeanor and his adherence to colonial-style dress.

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