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About Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., Governor
Governor of N. Carolina, elected in 1835.
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Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. (1796 – November 2, 1850) was the 27th Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1835 to 1836.
Born in New Bern, North Carolina, Spaight was the son of North Carolina Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight. The young Spaight was orphaned in 1802 when his father was killed in a duel; he later attended New Bern Academy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1815.
Spaight studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1818; he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1819 and the North Carolina Senate in 1820, where he served until being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1823.
Defeated for re-election to Congress, Spaight returned to the state legislature. He made repeated unsuccessful attempts to run for Governor, defeated in 1827 (by James Iredell, Jr.), 1828 (by John Owen), 1830, 1831 (by Montfort Stokes) and 1832 (by David Swain). Spaight was finally successful in 1835, becoming the last governor elected by the General Assembly under the North Carolina Constitution of 1776. As governor, he opposed state-funded internal improvements.
Under the new North Carolina Constitution of 1835, Spaight ran in the first statewide popular election for governor, but was defeated by Edward B. Dudley. Spaight retired to his farm near New Bern and died in a duel with another former delegate from the constitutional congress.
The Spaights were the first father and son to both become Governor of North Carolina. W. Kerr Scott and Robert W. Scott later achieved the same distinction.