David Settle Reid

29th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1851 to 1854

Date Born: April 19, 1813

Date Died: June 19, 1891

Place Born: Rockingham County, NC

Place Buried: Greenview Cemetery, Reidsville, NC

Residence: Rockingham County, NC

Occupation: Lawyer


David Settle Reid was born on April 19, 1813 in Rockingham County, NC, the son of Reuben Reid. He studied law and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1833.

On October 24, 1829, David Settle Reid was appointed the first Postmaster for the town of Reidsville (named after his father) in Rockingham County, NC.

In 1835, David Settle Reid was elected Colonel over the Rockingham County Regiment of Militia. He commanded this regiment for seven years until his resignation in November 1842 as a result of his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Also in 1835, David Settle Reid was first elected to represent Rockingham County in the NC Senate of the:
- 60th General Assembly that met in 1835

Upon ratification of the 1835 NC Constitution, among other changes, the state was divided into 50 Senate districts based on the population of each individual district.

In 1836, David Settle Reid was first elected to represent the 36th NC Senate District (Rockingham County) in the NC Senate of the:
- 61st General Assembly that met from 1836-1837
- 62nd General Assembly that met from 1838-1839
- 63rd General Assembly that met from 1840-1841

In November of 1842, David Settle Reid was elected to represent the 3rd District of North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he served until 1847. In Washington he was an ardent supporter of the James K. Polk administration and its expansionist policies that led to the annexation of Texas, the war with Mexico, the Mexican cession, and the settlement of the disputed Oregon Territory. He served on the post office committee, spending much of his time on postal patronage.

In 1848, David Settle Reid Reid ran for governor as a long-shot candidate, but he lost to Charles Manly by 854 votes.

On December 19, 1850 David Settle Reid had married his first cousin, Henrietta Williams Settle, the daughter of Thomas Settle, Sr. They had four known children.

In the 1850 general election, David Settle Reid was elected to be the next Governor of North Carolina. He served two two-year terms, from January 1, 1851 to December 5, 1854, when he resigned early after being elected to the U.S. Senate. Gov. Reid appointed the state’s first Superintendent of the Common Schools, Calvin H. Wiley. As governor, public education remained one of his three main interests; the other two were building internal improvements and defending southern rights.

In November of 1854, David Settle Reid was elected to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, a position he retained until 1859. In the Senate his committee service involved the transcontinental railroad, Indian affairs, Revolutionary claims, the District of Columbia, commerce, and the patent office. He was chairman of the patent office committee in the 35th U.S. Congress. Normally he took little part in the floor debate, but the argument over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was an exception. Reid joined his regional colleagues in a defense of Southern rights. Reid sought but was denied a full term in the U.S. Senate when he lost a three-way internal party fight with Thomas Bragg and William W. Holden in 1858.

David Settle Reid returned to the practice of law in Rockingham County.

In January of 1861, he was a elected by the NC General Assembly to an 1861 peace convention to try to prevent the American Civil War. Shortly afterwards he was elected to the state constitutional convention that voted to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861, and he continued to serve in the convention in the succeeding sessions. A staunch supporter of the war effort, Reid made public statements on the war but did not serve the Confederacy in any official capacity.

In 1875, David Settle Reid was elected a member of a NC Constitutional Convention, which he had a key role in organizing.

After the war, David Settle Reid continued his law practice in Wentworth and in 1877 established a partnership with his son Thomas. In May of 1881, he was stricken with a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. A decade later, David Settle Reid died on June 19, 1891, and he was buried in the Greenview Cemetery in Reidsville, NC.


David Settle Reid (April 19, 1813 – June 19, 1891) was a two-term Democratic governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1851 to 1854 and a U.S. Senator from December 1854 to March 1859. His uncle was Congressman Thomas Settle.

He was born in what would later be Reidsville, North Carolina, an unincorporated town named for his father, Reuben Reid. At age 16, David Reid became the first postmaster for the town. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1833. From 1835 to 1842, Reid served in the North Carolina Senate. He was a U.S. Representative from 1843 to 1847. In 1848, Reid was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor, losing to Charles Manly by only 854 votes. In 1850, Reid defeated Manly by 2,853 votes, returning the Democrats to the governor's office for the first time since 1836, when the state constitution changed so that the people, rather than the legislature, chose the Governor. In his campaigns, Reid promoted the now-obscure cause of "free suffrage," i.e. that there should not be different standards for who could vote for members of the North Carolina House of Commons and of the North Carolina Senate.

In the Senate, Reid was chairman of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office. He sought but was denied a full term in the Senate when he lost a three-way internal party fight with Thomas Bragg and William W. Holden in 1858. He returned to the practice of law and was a delegate to an 1861 peace convention to try to prevent the American Civil War. Reid was a member of a state constitutional convention in 1875. He died in Reidsville in 1891.


David Settle Reid, (nephew of Thomas Settle), a Representative and a Senator from North Carolina; born near Reidsville, Rockingham County, N.C., on April 19, 1813; attended the common schools and an academy; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1833 and commenced practice in Wentworth, N.C., the following year; member, State senate 1835-1842; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth Congresses (March 4, 1843-March 3, 1847); was not a candidate for renomination; unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1848; elected Governor in 1850 and 1852; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy in the term commencing March 4, 1853, caused by the failure of the legislature to elect, and served from December 6, 1854, until March 3, 1859; unsuccessful candidate for reelection; chairman, Committee on Patents and the Patent Office (Thirty-fifth Congress); delegate to the peace convention held at Washington, DC, in 1861 in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending war; member of the State constitutional convention in 1875; practiced law at Reidsville, NC, and died there June 19, 1891; interment in Greenview Cemetery.
David Settle Reid, governor of North Carolina, was born near Reidsville, North Carolina on April 19, 1813. His early education was attained in the common schools of his native state. He later studied law, and then established his legal career in Wentworth. Settle first entered politics in 1835, serving as a member of the NC Senate, a position he held seven years. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1843 to 1847. Reid next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1850 general election. He was re-elected to a second term in 1852. During his tenure, a free suffrage act was lobbied for; the Missouri Compromise was endorsed; and educational improvements were initiated. Upon his election to the U.S. Senate, Reid resigned from the governorship on December 5, 1854. He then served in his senatorial seat until 1859. He also served as a delegate to the 1861 Peace Convention; and was a member of the 1861 and 1862 State Secession Conventions. Before retiring, Reid served as a delegate to the 1875 State Constitutional Convention. David S. Reid passed away on June 19, 1891, and was buried in the Greenview Cemetery in Reidsville, NC.

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