Tod Robinson Caldwell

37th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1870 to 1874

Date Born: February 19, 1818

Date Died: July 11, 1874

Place Born: Morganton, NC

Place Buried: Forest Hill Cemetery in Morganton, NC

Residence: Burke County, NC

Occupation: Lawyer


Tod Robinson Caldwell was born on February 19, 1818 in Morganton, NC, the son of John Caldwell and Hannah Pickett (Robinson) Caldwell. He obtained the rudiments of reading and writing at a local school and then went to Hillsborough, where he prepared for college by studying under William J. Bingham. He then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was a member of the Dialectic Senate, and graduated on June 4, 1840.

Tod Robinson Caldwell was examined by the Supreme Court and admitted to Superior Court Practice (much like passing a bar examination) in June of 1841, becoming Solicitor for Burke County.

On December 12, 1840, Tod Robinson Caldwell married Minerva Ruffin Cain, daughter of William Cain and Mary (Ruffin) Cain of Hillsborough; they had five known children.

In 1842, Tod Robinson Caldwell was first elected as one of three men to represent Burke County in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 64th General Assembly that met from 1842-1843
- 65th General Assembly that met from 1844-1845 (one of two men elected due to reapportionment)
- 67th General Assembly that met from 1848-1849 (one of two men elected due to reapportionment)

In 1850, Tod Robinson Caldwell was elected to represent the NC 48th Senate District (Burke County) in the NC Senate of the:
- 68th General Assembly that met from 1850-1851

In 1858, Tod Robinson Caldwell was again elected to represent Burke County in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 72nd General Assembly that met from 1858-1859

After the Civil War, Tod Robinson Caldwell was a member of the Reconstruction Convention, and President of Western North Carolina Railroad (WNC RR) from 1865 to 1866.

In 1868, Tod Robinson Caldwell was elected North Carolina's first Lieutenant Governor under Gov. William Woods Holden, and as such was also the President of the Senate per the new state Constitution.

Upon the impeachment of Gov. William Woods Holden on December 15, 1870, Lt. Gov. Tod Robinson Caldwell was sworn in as the next Governor of North Carolina. With his re-election, he served until he died in office on July 11, 1874. His areas of interest were the state debt and the state finances and the opening of the public schools which had been closed in 1863 due to lack of money. He appointed Alexander McIver as Superintendent of Public Instruction and got a bill passed allowing private aid for public schools in order to gain funds to reopen the schools.

Shortly after arriving on July 9, 1874 at Hillsborough, Orange County, North Carolina to attend the railroad's stockholders' meeting, Gov. Caldwell became very ill and died unexpectedly two days later on July 11, 1874. Newspaper reports stated he died from cholera morbus. His body was returned to the state capital to lie in state after which his body was carried to Morganton and buried in the family plot in Forest Hill Cemetery.


Tod Robinson Caldwell (19 February 1818–11 July 1874) was a lawyer and the Republican governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1871 to 1874. He was born in Morganton, North Carolina. He lived in Burke County. Caldwell attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was solicitor for Burke County, and was a member of the General Assembly.

He succeeded to the office upon the impeachment and removal from office of Governor William Woods Holden. At the time, Caldwell was the first Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, an office created by the 1868 state constitution.

When elected in 1872 on the Republican ticket to a full term, Caldwell became one of the first Republican governors of North Carolina. His areas of interest were the state debt and the state finances and the opening of the public schools which had been closed in 1863 due to lack of money. He appointed Alexander McIver as Superintendent of Public Instruction and got a bill passed allowing private aid for public schools in order to gain funds to reopen the schools.

Governor Caldwell died in 1874, before the end of his term of office.


Tod Robinson Caldwell, governor of North Carolina, was born in Morganton, NC on February 19, 1818. His education was attained at the University of North Carolina, where he graduated in 1840. He went on to study law, and then established his legal career, serving as the Burke County Solicitor. Caldwell first entered politics as a member of the NC House of Commons, a position he held from 1842 to 1845, 1848 to 1849 and 1858 to 1859. He served in the NC State Senate from 1850 to 1851; was President of the Senate from 1868 to 1870; and served as Secretary Pro Tempore of the 1866 Constitutional Convention. He also was the state’s first Lieutenant Governor from 1868 to 1870 under Gov. William Woods Holden. On December 15, 1870 Gov.William Woods Holden was impeached, and Caldwell, who was the Lieutenant Governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. He won election to a term of his own in 1872. During his tenure, financing was secured for the reopening of the state’s public schools. Also, state spending was controlled and the state deficit was reduced. While still in office, Governor Caldwell passed away on July 11, 1874, and was buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Morganton, NC.

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