Charles Brantley Aycock

44th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1901 to 1905

Date Born: November 1, 1859

Date Died: April 4, 1912

Place Born: Wayne County, NC

Place Buried: Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC

Residence: Goldsboro, NC, Raleigh, NC.

Occupation: Lawyer


Charles Brantley Aycock was born on November 1, 1859 near Nahunta (now Fremont) in Wayne County, NC, the son of Benjamin and Serena (Hooks) Aycock. He attended private academies in Fremont, Wilson, and Kinston. At sixteen he taught for a term in a public school in Fremont. He then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and joined the Philanthropic Society, a debate and literary society at the university. After graduating in 1880 with first honors in both oratory and essay writing, he began his own law practice in 1881 in Goldsboro, and supplemented his income by teaching school. His success in both fields led to his appointment as Superintendent of schools for Wayne County and to service on the school board in Goldsboro.

On May 25, 1881, Charles Brantley Aycock married Varina Davis Woodard, daughter of William Woodard and Delphia (Roundtree) Woodard; they had three children. On January 7, 1891, two years after Varina's death, Charles Brantley Aycock married a second time, to Cora Lily Woodward, his first wife's sister, and they had seven children.

Charles Brantley Aycock's political career began in 1888 as a presidential elector for Grover Cleveland, when he gained distinction as an orator and political debater. From 1893 to 1897 he served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

In the 1900 general election, Charles Brantley Aycock was elected by the people as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served from January 15, 1901 to January 11, 1905. Gov. Aycock became known as the "Education Governor" for his support of the public school system. It was said that one school was constructed in the state for every day he was in office. He supported increased salaries for teachers, longer school terms, and new school buildings; "690 new schoolhouses erected, including 599 for whites and 91 for blacks."

After leaving the governor's office in 1905, Charles Brantley Aycock resumed his law practice in Goldsboro. He was persuaded to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by fellow Democrat Furnifold M. Simmons in 1912. But before the nomination was decided, Aycock died of a heart attack while making a speech to the Alabama Education Association in Birmingham on April 4, 1912. He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.


Charles Brantley Aycock (1 November 1859 -- 4 April 1912) was the Democratic governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905. During his tenure as governor, he was an advocate for the improvement of the state's public school systems, and following his term in office, he traveled the country promoting educational causes.

Prior to his rise to governorship, Aycock participated as a primary conspirator in the murderous Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, which proved to be the one and only coup d’etat in United States history.

According to John Beck, Wendy Frandsen, and Aaron Randall of Vance-Granville Community College, "Charles B. Aycock--the same Charles B. Aycock who helped lead the White Supremacy Campaign--is generally considered the state’s first progressive governor. Despite Aycock’s unsavory role as a white supremacist, he is still remembered and honored in the state today as the father of public education, and there are few counties in the state where one cannot find a public school named after him."

As governor, Aycock became known as the "Education Governor" for his support of the public school system. It was said that one school was constructed in the state for every day he was in office.

Charles B. Aycock was the youngest of the 10 children of Benjamin and Serena Aycock. His family lived near the present-day town of Fremont, NC, then known as Nahunta. Aycock studied law at the University of North Carolina and opened a practice in Goldsboro, NC after graduating in 1880.

After leaving the governor's office in 1905, he was persuaded to run for the Senate seat held by fellow Democrat Furnifold M. Simmons in 1912. But before the nomination was decided, Aycock died of a heart attack while making a speech to the Alabama Education Association on April 4, 1912.


Charles Brantley Aycock, governor of North Carolina, was born near Fremont, NC on November 1, 1859. His education was attained at the Wilson Collegiate Institute, at the Kinston Collegiate Institute, and at the University of North Carolina, where he earned a Ph.B degree in 1880. He went on to study law, and then established his legal career in Goldsboro. Aycock also had a life-long devotion in education. Besides teaching, he served as the county superintendent of schools, as well as serving as the director of a Negro normal school. Aycock first entered politics as a Democratic presidential elector, a position he held in 1888 and 1892. He also served as the District Attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina from 1893 to 1898. Aycock next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1900 general election. During his tenure, numerous educational advancements were sanctioned; child labor laws were improved; and liquor prohibition was promoted. After leaving the governorship, Aycock returned to his legal practice. He also continued to stay active in his support of educational improvements. In 1911 Aycock announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, however he passed away on April 4, 1912 before the election. Charles B. Aycock was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.

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