William Hawkins

14th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1811 to 1814

Date Born: October 10, 1777

Date Died: May 17, 1819

Place Born: Granville County, NC

Place Buried: Sparta, GA

Residence: Warren County, NC, Granville County, NC

Occupation: Lawyer, Politician


William Hawkins was born on October 10, 1777 in Granville (now Vance) County, NC, the son of Philemon Hawkins, III and Lucy (Davis) Hawkins. As a young man, he studied law in North Carolina under Judge John Williams at Williamsborough and at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), and received his license to practice law in 1797.

William Hawkins worked for two years in Georgia as an Indian agent with the Creeks under his uncle, Benjamin Hawkins, U.S. Supervisor of Southeast Indian tribes. Hawkins then went to Philadelphia to continue the study of law and the French language. Two years later he returned to his father's home at Pleasant Hill and began to practice law.

In 1801, William Hawkins was assigned by Gov. James Turner to settle a dispute and arrange a settlement with those Tuscarora Indians remaining in Bertie County, NC. The great majority of the tribe had migrated to New York state by 1722, where they settled with the Oneida people of the Iroquois Confederacy.

In 1803, William Hawkins married Anne Swepson Boyd, daughter of Richard and Jane Swepson, and widow of Alexander Boyd of Mecklenburg County, VA. They had six children together.

In 1804, William Hawkins was elected as one of two men to represent Warren County in the House of Commons of the:
- 29th General Assembly that met in 1804
- 30th General Assembly that met in 1805

In 1809, William Hawkins was elected as one of two men to represent Granville County in the House of Representatives of the:
- 34th General Assembly that met in 1809
- 35th General Assembly that met in 1810 - elected Speaker of the House
- 36th General Assembly that met in 1811 - elected Speaker of the House

In December of 1811, William Hawkins was elected by the General Assembly to be the next governor of North Carolina, and he served three terms from December 11, 1811 to November 29, 1814. During the War of 1812, Gov. Hawkins supported the military efforts of the federal government and assisted in raising a volunteer militia of 7,000 troops.

Hawkins retired from public life after the end of his term as governor, except for one final term in the House of Commons. In 1817, William Hawkins was elected as one of two men to represent Granville County in the House of Commons of the:
- 42nd General Assembly that met in 1817.

William Hawkins died on May 17, 1819 at the residence of Robert Alston, where he was visiting, and is buried in Sparta, GA.


William Hawkins (10 October 1777 – 17 May 1819) was the Democratic-Republican governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1811 to 1814.

Hawkins was born in Pleasant Hill, North Carolina, the son of a member of the North Carolina General Assembly. He studied law in North Carolina and Philadelphia, and worked as an Indian agent under his uncle, Benjamin Hawkins, in Georgia before returning to North Carolina to practice law. In 1801, he was sent to settle a dispute with the Tuscarora Indians.

In 1804, Hawkins was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons from Warren County he served a single term. In 1809, he was elected as a representative from Granville County; he served until 1811, and from 1810 to 1811, was Speaker of the House.

In December 1811, Hawkins was elected Governor of North Carolina by the General Assembly. He served the constitutional limit of three terms which coincided with the War of 1812; during the war, he supported the military efforts of the federal government and assisted in raising a volunteer militia of 7,000 troops.

Hawkins retired from politics after the end of his term as governor, except for one term in the House of Commons in 1817. He died in 1819 and is buried in Sparta, Georgia.


William Hawkins was born in Pleasant Hill, NC on October 10, 1777. His early education was attained in the common schools of his native state. He went on to study law in Philadelphia and North Carolina, and afterwards established his legal career in Warren County, NC. He also worked as an assistant Indian agent at Fort Hawkins, Georgia, and was a negotiator for a disagreement with the Tuscarora Indians in 1801. Hawkins first entered politics as a member of the NC House of Commons, a position he held from 1804 to 1805 and 1809 to 1811. He also served as Speaker of the House from 1810 to 1811. Hawkins won election to the governorship in 1811, and went on to win re-election to a second term in 1812, as well as to a third term in 1813. During his tenure, troops and provisions were raised for the War of 1812, and industrial development was promoted. After leaving the governorship, Hawkins retired from political life. However, he returned briefly in 1817, when he won re-election to the NC House of Commons. William Hawkins passed away on May 17, 1819, and was buried in Sparta, Georgia.

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