of those who stood amidst the storm, erect, steadfast, and true to their birthright.
Leader among the leaders of them was William L. Saunders
, and this exhibition of his dauntless spirit before the chief priests of the persecution, assembled at the capitol
of the country, and panoplied with irresponsible power, won for him a claim to the admiration of all true men.
From that day he began to grow in public esteem, and to be regarded as one in whose faithfulness and sagacity the people might safely confide.
Soon afterwards he began his editorial career in Wilmington
, and at once acquired an influence in public affairs which gradually spread all over the State
; and when, several years later, he removed to Raleigh
and became one of the editors of the Observer
, he was a recognized power in North Carolina
It would not, I think, be an exaggeration to say that while occupying this position, and afterwards the office of Secretary of State
, he was more frequently consulted by leading citizens, not only in regard to political affairs, but to various matters of general public interest, than any man in the State
The reason was that to an eminently practical cast of mind he united a rare judgment and a quick perception of the relations of things, which made him a wise and safe counsellor—the wisest and safest, perhaps, of his generation of public men in North Carolina
He was never disconcerted by difficulties and never lost his balance, but always kept a clear head and maintained a calm self-possession.
In addition to a natural modesty, he possessed the rare faculty of knowing exactly when to speak and when to be silent, and his capacity for patiently listening amounted to genius.
Rapid in thought, he was always deliberate of speech and action.
Conservative, cautious, and prudent, his judgments were apt to stand without revision, and it is doubtful if in his whole editorial career he ever had occasion to recall one as unjust or extravagant.
It is not strange, therefore, that his counsel was sought in times of doubt and difficulty, and was followed with confidence by those to whom he gave it. And when his social character is considered, it is still less surprising, for he was so genial, and gentle, and kindly, and cheerful that it was a pleasure to be associated with him.
I never knew a man, apparently so practical and emotionless, whose sympathies were more easily reached, or whose impulses were more generous.
His strong aversion to a display of feeling by others was often attributable to his consciousness of his own inability to