north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     Thomas Person, a North Carolina political leader from Granville County, was born in Virginia in 1733. His father, William Person, was the first sheriff of Granville County after moving his family to North Carolina around 1740. Person is best known for his involvement in three integral parts of North Carolina history: the Regulator Movement, the American Revolution, and North Carolina’s admission to the United States of America.

     Person acted as both justice of the peace and sheriff before representing Granville County in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1764. At the outbreak of the Regulator Movement, Governor William Tryon ordered Person to be jailed in Hillsborough, despite his absence from the Battle of Alamance. Person was considered a high powered and influential figure within the movement, and was charged but exonerated due to lack of evidence. Person was called upon during the Third Provincial Congress to persuade former Regulators to join the Revolutionary cause.

     Remaining actively involved in politics before the Revolutionary War, Person represented Granville County in each of the five North Carolina Provincial Congresses. He played a vital role in the Congresses, sitting on most important committees, including the committee that drafted the Halifax Resolves in April 1776. Person also contributed to the planning of the state constitution of 1776. After the Halifax Resolves were adopted and North Carolina declared its independence from Great Britain, Thomas Person was elected brigadier general of the Hillsborough district militia, but returned to state government as the “radical” faction leader after 1776.

     Following the Patriot victory in the Revolutionary War, Person continued his representation in the North Carolina House of Commons, acting as an Anti-Federalist leader. Person strongly opposed the ratification of the federal constitution, voting against it in the Hillsborough convention of 1788 and the Fayetteville convention of 1789. He fought for equality and justice in government, fearing the effects on the poor of federal taxes.

     At the time of his death, Person owned over 65,000 acres in ten counties in North Carolina and an additional 16,000 acres in Tennessee. Additionally, in present-day Halifax County, Person operated a tavern and inn, Person’s Ordinary, which existed from around 1700. Person lived at “Goshen” plantation in Granville County until his old age, at which time he moved to another house in Warren County where he was buried after his death in 1800.


References:
Stephen B Weeks, “Thomas Person,” North Carolina Booklet, vol. IX, no. 1 (July 1909), 16-35
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 74-75—sketch by Sue Dosset Skinner
Kenneth McFarland, The Historic Architecture of Warren County, North Carolina (2001)
Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, eds., A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996)
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