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

 
 
 

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Essay:
      Whitmel Hill, three-time delegate to North Carolina’s Provincial Congress, was born in Bertie County on February 12, 1743. Born to a wealthy family, he received an education at local common schools before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1760. After graduation, Hill returned to North Carolina, and lived as a planter and agriculturalist at “Palmyra,” his estate near Hill’s Ferry in Martin County. He married Winifred Blount.

      Prior the to the Revolutionary War, Hill served several terms as a justice of the peace for Martin County. In 1775, he was appointed to serve as Martin County’s delegate to North Carolina’s third Provincial Congress. He served again in April 1776 at the fourth, and in November 1776 at the fifth and final Provincial Congress. As a member of the General Assembly, Hill took part in the adoption of the Halifax Resolves and the drafting of the state constitution,

      In September 1775, Hill was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Martin County militia, second in command to William Williams, for whom Williamston is named. Upon Williams’s resignation in April 1778, Hill became commander, although he never actually led men in the field. In March 1781, Martin County militia marched to the aid of Greene’s army and took part in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Hill led them as far as Hillsborough, but gave up command on account of an unspecified illness.

Shortly after his promotion, Hill was made a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia along with Cornelius Harnett and Thomas Burke. He served North Carolina in the Congress until 1780. During that time he was also served as a state senator and as speaker of the Assembly.

      After the war, Hill returned to his plantation for several years before serving as a member of the state convention at Hillsborough on July 21, 1788, that chose not to ratify the United States Constitution. Hill favored adoption, standing in the minority alongside William R. Davie and James Iredell.

      Hill died at Hill’s Ferry on September 12, 1797. At his death he owned over 140 slaves, possibly the largest number owned by one man in the state at that time.


References:
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 140-141—sketch by James R. Young
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical Dictionary of North Carolina, III, 181-183
David L. Swain, “Life and Letters of Whitmel Hill,” North Carolina University Magazine (March 1861)
Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Fortitude and Forbearance: The North Carolina Continental Line in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 (2004)
Whitmel Hill Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina
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