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

 
 
 

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Marker Text:

Essay:
     Sydenham Benoni Alexander, Confederate officer, legislator, and agriculturalist, was born on December 8, 1840 at Rosedale, the Mecklenburg County farm of his parents, Moses Winslow and Violet Graham Alexander. His father was a physician turned farmer, and his mother was the sister of Governor William A. Graham.

     One of twelve siblings, Alexander attended preparatory school at Rocky River Academy and Wadesboro Institute prior to enrolling in the University of North Carolina. He graduated in 1860, but the Civil War intervened before he could begin his professional life. Alexander enlisted in April 1861 in the First North Carolina Volunteers and saw action at the Battle of Bethel the following June. Two months later Alexander was appointed the drillmaster of the 28th North Carolina Infantry. He subsequently was promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to Company K, 42nd North Carolina Infantry. A promotion to captain followed before he was detailed to the staff of General Robert Hoke as an inspector-general.

     Alexander returned home at the war’s conclusion and became a successful farmer. A strong supporter of the newly formed state board of agriculture and Leonidas L. Polk, Alexander was appointed the master of the Grange in North Carolina in 1877. Two years later he was elected as a Democratic state senator to the General Assembly. Popular with Mecklenburg County’s farmers, Alexander returned to the state senate in 1883, 1885, 1887, and 1901.

     In 1887 Alexander was fundamental in the formation of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in Raleigh, the forerunner to North Carolina State University. Shortly thereafter he was appointed commissioner of the state board of agriculture, as well as president of the North Carolina State Fair and the North Carolina Railroad. That same year he accepted the presidency of the North Carolina Farmers’ Alliance, and ran as their gubernatorial candidate in a losing campaign against Daniel G. Fowle.

     Three years later Alexander was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served on the House agricultural committee for two successive terms. In 1901 he returned to the North Carolina Senate where he aided in the appropriation of $200,000 for public schools. In 1906 Alexander retired, and spent the remainder of his life in Charlotte. He died on June 14, 1921.


References:
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I (1979), 18-19—sketch by Stuart Noblin
R. W. Winston, It’s a Far Cry (1937)
Stuart Noblin, Leonidas L. Polk (1949)
Charlotte Observer, June 15, 1921
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