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

 
 
 

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     Robert Strange, United States Senator, was born on September 20, 1796, in Manchester, Virginia, the son of James Strange, a Scottish merchant. As a youth Strange attended school in Lunenburg and Rockbridge Counties and at New Oxford Academy. In 1811 he entered Hampden-Sydney College, and the following year attended Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. Shortly after his graduation in 1815, the family moved to Fayetteville where Strange studied law and was admitted to the bar.

     Strange entered politics shortly after arriving in North Carolina, and was elected to the General Assembly in 1821. He served three terms, and in 1826 was appointed a North Carolina Superior Court judge. In 1836 Strange was elected to complete the United States senatorial term of Willie P. Mangum. Strange did so, and was elected to his own term the following year. However, he and Bedford Brown, the other North Carolina senator, both resigned their seats in 1840 after supporting the removal of a censure against Andrew Jackson from the Senate journals. William A. Graham subsequently took Strange’s seat.

     Strange’s most important contributions while a senator came not in the form of legislation but in literature. In 1839 he published Eoneguski, or, The Cherokee Chief: A Tale of Past Wars, the first novel with a setting in the state by a native of North Carolina. The book was a rather scathing commentary on the treatment of Native Americans by whites within the state. Remarkably ahead of its time, the novel was not well-received by Southern critics.

     After his senatorial career ended, Strange returned to Fayetteville and reopened his law practice. He also served as the president of the Bank of the Cape Fear and as the twelfth grand master of the North Carolina Masonic order. Strange died on February 20, 1854 and was buried in the family cemetery at his plantation, Myrtle Hill. He had been married twice, and fathered six children. Strange’s son, Robert Strange, Jr., was a member of the Secession Convention of 1861, and his grandson, Robert Strange II, became an Episcopal bishop.


References:
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 489—sketch by John L. Myers
Richard Walser, “Senator Strange’s Indian Novel,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1949): 1-27
John L. Cheney, ed., North Carolina Government, 1585-1979 (1981)
Robert Strange Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—finding aid at: http://webcat.lib.unc.edu/search~S1?/astrange+robert/astrange+robert/1%2C5%2C18%2CB/frameset&FF=astrange+robert+1823+1877&1%2C1%2C
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Robert Strange

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