Federal-Era Power Broker John Gray Blount, of Washington

An 1829 portrait of Blount. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.On September 21, 1752, John Gray Blount was born in Bertie County.  He was destined to become one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina, albeit less well-known than his half-brother William, governor of Tennessee, and Thomas, member of Congress.

Blount had business dealings up and down the Atlantic seaboard and extending into the Caribbean, but his base of operation was in Washington in Beaufort County after his 1778 marriage. Blount made the town his home when it was still known as Forks of the Tar River.

Blount and his partners had substantial shipping interests, owning wharves, flatboats and seagoing vessels.  They owned sawmills, gristmills, tanneries and cotton gins, and engaged in agricultural pursuits and the slave trade.

Blount was also heavily involved in land speculation, employing agents to buy and sell large tracts in western North Carolina and Tennessee. He represented Beaufort in the state House and state Senate, and served in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Blount died in 1833 and is buried at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Washington.

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