Military Wiki
Richard Caswell
1st & 5th Governor of North Carolina

In office
Preceded by William Jones as Royal Colonial Governor
Succeeded by Abner Nash

In office
Preceded by Josiah Martin
Succeeded by Samuel Johnston
Second Grand Master of Masons of North Carolina[1]


In office
Preceded by Samuel Johnston
Succeeded by Samuel Johnston
Personal details
Born (1729-08-03)August 3, 1729
Harford County, Maryland
Died November 10, 1789(1789-11-10) (aged 60)
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Spouse(s) Sarah Caswell (nee Herritage)
Profession Lawyer, Surveyor

Richard Caswell (August 3, 1729 – November 10, 1789) was the first and fifth governor of the U.S. State of North Carolina, serving from 1776 to 1780 and from 1784 to 1787.

Early life

He was born on August 3, 1729 in Joppa, Harford County, Maryland, one of the eleven children of Richard Caswell and the former Christian Dallam. The younger Richard Caswell departed Maryland for the New Bern area of North Carolina in 1745.[2]

American Revolution

A lawyer and surveyor by training, Caswell represented North Carolina in the Continental Congress of 1774 and 1775. As a Patriot officer in the American Revolutionary War, Caswell led North Carolina militiamen in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. In 1780 he was also commissioned as a major general of North Carolina troops. At the Battle of Camden, his troops fled after the Virginia militia broke and fled in a panic exposing Caswell's militia to attack without greater defense, leaving the Continentals behind to suffer defeat.

Revolutionary governor

Caswell was president of the provincial congress that wrote the first North Carolina Constitution in 1776. As the congress adjourned, it elected Caswell as acting governor. He took the oath of office on January 16, 1777. Under the new constitution, the state Legislature ("General Assembly") re-elected him as the first Governor in April 1777. He stepped down in 1780, as the constitution allowed only three consecutive one-year terms. He then assumed command of all of North Carolina's militia, which he commanded at the American defeat at Camden, 16 August 1780.

Later career and death

He served as the state's comptroller and as a member of the North Carolina Senate between his two gubernatorial terms. Caswell was also chosen to be one of North Carolina's delegates to the United States Constitutional Convention of 1787, but he did not attend.

At the time of his death in 1789, he had returned once again to the North Carolina General Assembly, this time serving as Speaker of the Senate. Caswell died in Fayetteville, N.C., on November 10, 1789.


Caswell County, North Carolina and Fort Caswell were named for him.


  1. "Officers of the Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of North Carolina, the first 100 years". Raleigh, North Carolina, USA: Grand Lodge of North Carolina. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  2. "North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program - Richard Caswell". North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
President of the North Carolina Council of Safety
Willie Jones
Governor of North Carolina
1776 – 1780
Succeeded by
Abner Nash
Preceded by
Alexander Martin
Governor of North Carolina
1784 – 1787
Succeeded by
Samuel Johnston

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).