Montfort Stokes

22nd Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1830 to 1832

Date Born: March 12, 1762

Date Died: November 4, 1842

Place Born: Lunenburg County, VA

Place Buried: Ft. Gibson Cemetery in Oklahoma

Residence: Salisbury, NC and Wilkesboro, NC

Occupation: Major General in NC Militia, Lawyer

   

   

Montfort Stokes was born on March 12, 1762 in Lunenburg County, VA, the son of David Stokes and Mary (Montfort) Stokes. At the age of 13, Stokes enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marines. During the American Revolution, he was captured by the British and confined for seven months on the British prison ship HMS Jersey in New York Harbor. He later held the rank of Major General in theNC Militia from 1804 to 1816.

After the Revolutionary War, Montfort Stokes settled in Salisbury, NC, started farming, studied law, and served as Clerk of Court in Rowan County. He served as Assistant Clerk in the NC Senate from 1786 to 1780, and as Clerk in the NC Senate from 1799 to 1816.

In 1790, Montfort Stokes married Mary Irwin, daughter of Henry Irwin of Tarboro, and they had one daughter. In 1796, Montfort Stokes married a second time, to Rachel Montgomery, daughter of Hugh Montgomery, and they had ten known children. Montfort and Rachel moved to Wilkesboro in Wilkes County around 1810.

In 1804, the NC General Assembly offered him a seat in the U.S. Senate, but he declined for family reasons. Also in 1804, the NC General Assembly gave him a commission as Major General of state militia, and he held this rank at the beginning of the War of 1812.

In 1804 and 1812 he was a presidential elector, and from 1805 to 1838 he was a Trustee of the University of North Carolina. During this period Stokes was active in Masonic affairs, serving as Deputy Grand Master for North Carolina from 1802 to 1807. He was a member of the North Carolina-South Carolina boundary commission in 1807.

In 1816, Montfort Stokes was elected to the U.S. Senate following the resignation of James Turner. He served the remaining few months of Turner's term and then a full term in the U.S. Senate, but was defeated for re-election by the legislature in 1823.

In 1826, Montfort Stokes was elected to represent Wilkes County in the NC Senate of the:
- 51st General Assembly that met from 1826-1827

In 1829, Montfort Stokes was elected as one of two men to represent Wilkes County in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 54th General Assembly that met from 1829-1830.

In 1830, the General Assembly elected Montfort Stokes as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served two terms from December 18, 1830 to November 19, 1832. Gov. Stokes earned a reputation as being a friend of western North Carolina. He promoted economic and transportation legislation that would become parts of the Whig platform—internal improvements and a sound banking system, to name two examples. Gov. Stokes criticized John C. Calhoun’s nullification doctrines and supported Andrew Jackson’s efforts.

In 1832, Montfort Stokes was named by President Andrew Jackson to head the Federal Indian Commission, overseeing relocation and resettlement of Indian tribes from the American southeast, and he resigned as Governor of North Carolina on November 19, 1832. With his new position, he moved to Fort Gibson in the Arkansas Territory (now part of the state of Oklahoma) and advocated for the Cherokee, Seneca, Shawnee, and Quapaw tribes.

Montfort Stokes died on November 4, 1842 and was buried at the Fort Gibson Cemetery in Oklahoma.


Montfort Stokes (12 March 1762 -- 4 November 1842) was an American Democratic (originally Democratic-Republican) politician who served as US Senator from 1816 to 1823, and Governor of North Carolina from 1830 to 1832.

Born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, Stokes was the youngest of the eleven children of David Stokes, a military officer and judge. At the age of 13, he enlisted in the United States Merchant Marine. During the American Revolutionary War, Stokes was captured by the British and confined for seven months on the British prison ship Jersey in New York Harbor. He later held the rank of major general in the state militia from 1804 to 1816.

After the Revolutionary War, Stokes settled in Salisbury, North Carolina, farmed, served as clerk of court, and studied law. He served as assistant clerk in the North Carolina Senate from 1786 to 1780, and as clerk from 1799 to 1816, until he was elected to the United States Senate following the resignation of James Turner. He served the remaining few months of Turner's term and then a full term in the Senate, but was defeated for re-election by the legislature in 1823. During his Senate term Stokes changed his residency from Salisbury to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Stokes was then elected to the North Carolina General Assembly; he represented Wilkes County in the North Carolina Senate from 1826 to 1827 and the North Carolina House of Commons from 1829 to 1830.

In 1830, Stokes was elected Governor by the General Assembly on the ninth ballot, defeating Cadwallader Jones and Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr.. Stokes faced Spaight for re-election again the following year and was elected by a narrow margin (98-93). During his term in office, Stokes supported construction of canals along the North Carolina Coast; he simultaneously served as president of the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees.

A strong supporter of President Andrew Jackson, Governor Stokes urged the state legislature to support Jackson's anti-nullification position; Stokes was named by Jackson to head the Federal Indian Commission, overseeing relocation and resettlement of Indian tribes from the American southeast, and resigned as governor on November 19, 1832.

With his new position, Stokes moved to Fort Gibson in the Arkansas Territory (now part of the state of Oklahoma) and advocated for the Cherokee, Seneca, Shawnee, and Quapaw tribes. He died in November 1842 and is buried near Fort Gibson. Stokes is believed to be the only soldier of the American Revolutionary War buried in Oklahoma.


Montfort Stokes, governor of North Carolina, was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia on March 12, 1762. Stokes had a long and distinguished military career that started with his enlistment in the U.S. Merchant Marines at the age of thirteen. He later served in the Revolutionary War, as well as in the War of 1812. He also served two years as captain of cavalry; and was Major General of the North Carolina Militia from 1804 to 1816. He eventually settled in Halifax, NC, where he became a planter and studied law. Stokes first entered politics as assistant clerk of the NC Senate, a position he held from 1786 to 1790. He served as clerk of the Rowan Superior Court in 1790; was clerk of the NC Senate from 1799 to 1816; and served as Justice of the Peace in 1811. He also served in the U.S. Senate from 1816 to 1823; was a member of the NC Senate from 1826 to 1827; and served in the NC House of Commons from 1829 to 1831. Stokes next won election to the governorship in 1830. He went on to win re-election to a second term in 1831. During his tenure, canal construction was advanced; and President Andrew Jackson’s anti-nullification stance was endorsed. Gov. Stokes resigned from office on November 19, 1832. He then secured an appointment to serve as chairman of the Federal Indian Commission, a post he held ten years, and from which he supervised the relocation of southern Indians west of the Mississippi. Montfort Stokes passed away on November 4, 1842, and was buried in the Fort Gibson Cemetery in Oklahoma.

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