HISTORYnThe Life of an ^OldnRepublican’nby Clyde WihonnNathaniel MaconnNathaniel Macon (Dec. 17, 1758-nJune 29, 1837), “Old Republican”nstatesman, the foremost publicnman of North Carolina in the earlyn19th century, was the sixth child ofnGideon and Priscilla (Jones) Maconnand was born at his father’s plantationnon Shocco Creek in what later becamenWarren County. The Macons werenFrench Huguenots in origin, thenJoneses English or Welsh. Both familiesnhad entered Virginia in the 17th centurynand were of the gentry when theynmoved to lands south of the RoanokenRiver in the 1730’s. Macon’s early life isnknown only in outline. Although henattended school under Charies Pettigrewnand was enrolled in the Collegenof New Jersey (Princeton) when thenAmerican War of Independence began,nhe was apparently, like Washington,nlargely self-taught. Certainly his readingnFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnNEW SUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715n48/CHRONICLESnwas wide and his mind neither provincialnnor narrow as has sometimes beennsuggested. His speeches indicate annastute knowledge of foreign lands andnpublic finance, and in a not untypicalnletter Macon could casually mentionnDavid Hume, Gustavus Adolphus, andnthe Apocrypha.nMacon took the field with the NewnJersey militia in 1776. When his collegenclosed he returned home to WarrennCounty to read law (which he nevernpracticed) and English history. Theninterruption in his military service wasnnot unusual since the RevolutionarynWar was fought by fits and starts andngentlemen served at will. (A similarnhiatus occurred in the service of JamesnMonroe and John Marshall.) Maconnreentered the army in 1780 in a companynraised and commanded by his brother.nTypically, he refused a commissionnand the enlistment bounty. He wasnprobably present with the Americannforces during the disastrous Camdenncampaign. In 1781, while a privatensoldier encamped on the Yadkin River,nMacon received word of his election tonthe North Carolina Senate, which henreluctantly entered and to which he wasnreelected until 1786. He was immediatelynrecognized as a leading member.nAfter the War of Independence, Maconnserved for a time in the House ofnCommons and was identified withnWillie Jones and the predominant anti-nFederalist sentiment in North Carolina.nHe declined to serve in the ContinentalnCongress in 1786 and his brother, John,nvoted against the Federal Constitutionnin both North Carolina ratifying conventions.nHowever, Macon acceptednelection to the federal House of Representativesnand entered the Second Congressnin 1791. He remained a membernof the House for the next 24 years untilnhe took a seat in the Senate, where henremained 13 years. He representednNorth Carolina in Congress from agen33 until his voluntary retirement at agen70. In the House from 1791 to 1815,nhe was Speaker 1801-1807, candidatenfor Speaker in 1799 and 1809, andnchairman of the Foreign RelationsnCommittee 1809-1810. In the Senatenfrom 1815 to 1828, he was chairman ofnthe Foreign Relations Committeen1818-1826 and president pro temporen1826-1828. In both houses he servednon the main financial committees andnchaired numerous select committees.nnnDuring his congressional service hendeclined Cabinet appointments at leastntwice, and he served long periods asntrustee of the university and militianofficer and justice of the peace innWarren County. For the first third ofnthe 19th century he was the dominantnpersonality of the predominant Democratic-RepublicannParty and the mostnrespected citizen of North Carolinanboth within and without the state. jnIt was Macon’s pride that he neverncampaigned for an office or asked anynman for a vote. His legislative andnpolitical skills were neither rhetorical nornmanagerial. His strength and influencenlay in personal force, exemplary integrity,nshrewdness, a contented (or static)npublic, and undeviating adherence tonfundamental principles. These principles,nforged in the Revolution, did notnchange in a political career of half ancentury. The principles included individualnfreedom, strict economy andnaccountability in government expenditures,nfrequent elections, limited discretionnin officials, avoidance of debt andnpaper money, and republican simplicitynin forms. Macon was the purest possiblenexample of one type of “republican”nproduced by the American Revolution.nHe was satisfied with a society of landownersnwho managed their own affairsnand wanted neither benefits nor burdensnfrom government. He wanted angovernment conducted with honesty,nsimplicity, and the maximum liberty fornthe individual, community, and state.nHe believed that North Carolina approachednthis ideal, and he fought anlosing battle to hold the federal governmentnto it. To Macon the success of andemocracy depended not on the progressivenessnand vision of leaders butnupon the willing consent of the people.nOpposing most appropriations and innovations,neven when he stood neadynalone, he has often been described as an”negative radical.” True to the spirit ofnesse quam videri, Macon practicednwhat he preached. He was in his seatnfaithfully when public business wasnbeing conducted, drew from the treasurynonly his actual travel expensesnrather than the maximum allowancen(as was the practice), and lived simplynin Washington, often sharing a bednwith a visiting constituent.nIdeological purity did not detractnfrom Macon’s political shrewdness (henadvised Jefferson against the abortiven