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John Gray Blount (1752-1833) and his family exercised considerable influence over the political and economic life of North Carolina and Tennessee during the early National period. His half-brother William Blount served as governor of Tennessee during the War of 1812 while his half-brother Thomas served in Congress when not tending the family business in Tarboro.
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J. G. Blount’s business dealings ranged westward to Tennessee and along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean, but his base of operation from his marriage in 1778 forward was in Washington. Blount made the town his home when it was still known as Forks of the Tar River. He and his business partners had large shipping interests, owning wharves, flat boats, and seagoing vessels. They also owned sawmills, gristmills, tanneries, and cotton gins, and engaged in agricultural pursuits and the slave trade. Blount was heavily involved in land speculation, employing agents to buy and sell large tracts in western North Carolina and Tennessee. Blount represented Beaufort in the House of Commons from 1782 to 1793, served in the constitutional convention of 1787, in the state Senate for three terms, and on the council of state on several occasions. He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina.
Alice Keith, editor of the first two volumes of the Blount papers, noted that John Gray Blount was “one of the most important figures in North Carolina in his day” in spite of the fact that he held not higher office and is generally less well known than his brothers. Blount’s home, a small frame building, is pictured in the second volume of the Blount papers with a caption noting, “Blount did contemplate building a home in keeping with his wealth and social station, but the opportune time never came.” The house was occupied by Blount’s descendants until its demolition in 1923.
Alice Keith et al., eds., The Papers of John Gray Blount, 4 vols. (1952-1982)
Ursula Loy and Pauline Worthy, eds., Washington and the Pamlico (1976)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 179—sketch by Armistead Jones Maupin