Although I have been in exile many years, I am a Tar Heel born and a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I will be a Tar Heel dead.
Nathaniel Macon is a perfect subject for a Tar Heel. He is not well-known today, but he is the best possible example of the true spirit of North Carolina. And comparing Macon with the politicians of today gives us a benchmark as to how dreadfully far America has degenerated from the principles on which it was founded.
In his time Macon was widely admired by Americans as the perfect model of a republican statesman. By republican I mean republican with a small “r.” I definitely do NOT mean the Republican Party, which, from its very beginning, when it stole the name from better people, right up to this minute, has stood for the exact opposite of what Nathaniel Macon meant by republican government.
When North Carolina had occasion in the early 20th century to pick two figures to represent us in the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, we chose Zeb Vance and Charles Aycock. At the time it was natural to honour Vance who had seen us through the horrible war of conquest waged against us, and Aycock, who removed the last vestiges of Reconstruction. That’s understandable, although it overlooked Macon, who might easily qualify as the greatest Tar Heel of all.
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