Edward Bishop Dudley

25th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1836 to 1841

Date Born: December 15, 1789

Date Died: October 30, 1855

Place Born: Onslow County, NC

Place Buried: Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC

Residence: Wilmington, NC

Occupation: Lt. Colonel in Onslow Militia during War of 1812, President of Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad


Edward Bishop Dudley was born on December 15, 1789 near the town of Onslow Court House (what later became Jacksonville), NC, the son of Christopher Dudley and Margaret (Snead) Dudley. At an early age, he showed interest in business and politics and worked to obtain the formal and practical education needed to be successful in both professions.

In 1811, Edward Bishop Dudley was first elected as one of two men to represent Onslow County in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 36th General Assembly that met in 1811
- 38th General Assembly that met in 1813

In 1814, Edward Bishop Dudley was elected to represent Onslow County in the NC Senate of the:
- 39th General Assembly that met in 1814

During the War of 1812, between service in the legislature, Edward Bishop Dudley was a Lieutenant Colonel (second in command) of a militia regiment from Onslow County. The regiment was stationed at Wilmington, and he liked the area so much that he moved there permanently after the war.

On November 21, 1815, Edward Bishop Dudley married Elizabeth "Eliza" Eagles Haywood, daughter of William Henry Haywood, II and Ann (Sheppard) Haywood; they had six children. After Elizabeth's death he married Jane Cowan, the widow of General John Cowan.

In 1816, Edward Bishop Dudley was first elected to represent the town of Wilmington in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 41st General Assembly that met in 1816
- 42nd General Assembly that met in 1817

In 1824, Edward Bishop Dudley was an elector for the People Party

In 1829, Edward Bishop Dudley was elected in a special election to replace Gabriel Holmes, who had recently died, in the U.S. House of Representatives. He completed this term, but was not re-elected.

Dudley was instrumental in the formation and success of the Whig Party in North Carolina. As a state legislator, Dudley was considered a Republican, but he had many Federalist tendencies. As a U.S. Congressman, Dudley disagreed greatly with Andrew Jackson’s economic policies, and in particular, the Wilmingtonian detested Jackson’s opposition to the national bank.

In January of 1834, as one of the leading investors, Edward Bishop Dudley helped to secure the first charter for the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad (W&R RR). Dudley had personally invested $25,000, and $113,000 had been raised. In March of 1836 the stockholders held their first meeting, and Dudley was elected the railroad's first President with an annual salary of $2,000. The actual building of the railroad began in October of 1836.

In 1836, the population - instead of the legislature - of North Carolina first elected their new Governor, Edward Bishop Dudley. He served two two-year terms from December 31, 1836 to January 1, 1841. Three colleges formed during his administration: Davidson, Greensboro Female, and Union Institute (later known as Duke University). Gov. Dudley’s administrative goals reflected the overall Whig strategy in North Carolina.

Edward Bishop Dudley resigned his Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad presidency in 1837, but he was re-elected as President of the railroad in 1841 after leaving the governor's office, and he retained the position until 1847. The railroad, which never went to Raleigh, changed its name to the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad and at one time was the longest railroad in the world.

Edward Bishop Dudley retired from the railroad in 1847 and returned to private life in Wilmington. He died on October 30, 1855 and he was buried at the Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC.


Edward Bishop Dudley born near Jacksonville, North Carolina, (15 December 1789 - 30 October 1855), Dudley was the two-term Whig governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1836 to 1841. He served in the United States House of Representatives as a Jacksonian from 1829 to 1831.

In 1836, Dudley became the first Governor of North Carolina elected by popular vote, after changes to the North Carolina Constitution came into effect. He defeated the incumbent Governor, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., who had been the last governor elected by the state legislature.


Edward Bishop Dudley, governor of North Carolina, was born near Jacksonville, NC on December 15, 1789. His education was attained at an academy in Onslow County. During the War of 1812, he commanded an Onslow regiment of volunteers and eventually earned the rank of lieutenant colonel. Dudley first entered politics in 1811, serving as a member of the NC House of Commons, a position he held again in 1813, 1816 to 1817, and 1834 to 1835. He also served in the NC Senate in 1814; was a presidential elector in 1824 and 1828; and served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1829 to 1831. Dudley next won election to the governorship in 1836, becoming the first governor elected by a popular vote. He was re-elected to a second term in 1838. During his tenure, road construction was recommended; and improvements to the penal and educational systems were lobbied for. After completing his term, Dudley retired from political life. He returned to his duties as president of the Wilmington & Raleigh Railroad Company, a post he held until 1846. Edward B. Dudley passed away on October 30, 1855, and was buried in the Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC.

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