He served as Secretary
of the Senate of North Carolina in 1870 and again in 1872-3.
In 1872 he joined Major Engelhard
in the editorship of the Wilmington Journal
and so continued for four years.
His services to the people of North Carolina
during this period were invaluable.
In February, 1879, upon the death of Major Engelhard
who had been elected Secretary of State
in 1876, Colonel Saunders
was appointed his successor.
He was elected to the office in 1880, re-elected in 1884 and 1888, and was holding it at the time of his death.
It is conceded that so great was his popularity, that there was no office within the gift of the people that he might not have secured, had his physical ability admitted of a personal canvass.
His services in behalf of the history of North Carolina
were, as stated in the tribute of his friend, providential; his enthusiasm and his popularity ensured the success of the appropriation as that of no one else might have done, and his peculiar fitness as editor of the ‘Colonial Records
’ carried the arduous labor to successful completion.
His devotion to his alma mater
, the University
of North Carolina
, was signally attested.
The actual governing authority of the board of trustees of this institution is the Executive committee.
Of this body he was chosen a member in 1874, secretary and treasurer in 1877, and was an active officer of it until his death.
A tablet to his memory with the following inscription has been placed in the memorial hall of the university by the board of trustees:
William Lawrence Saunders
Class of 1854.
46th N. C. Troops.
C. S. A.
Wounded at Fredericksburg
of the Senate 1870-1874.
of the State
of Colonial Records
Lawyer, Journalist, Historian.]