William Horn Battle

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When William Horn Battle passed away in 1879, an obituary in the Raleigh Observer said "the state sustained the loss of one of her sons [compared to] whom no purer in character has lived or died in any age.. If human perfection were possible, Judge Battle would have achieved it."


Battle, who founded what became UNC School of Law in 1845 and who was a University trustee, sat as a traveling superior court judge for 12 years before being elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court. He showed his strength for leadership at an early age; by age 27, he ran a cotton mill inherited from his father and, after leaving the bench, he was president of Raleigh National Bank. At the direction of the General Assembly, he twice codified the state's General Statutes, the second time preparing on his own what became known as "Battle's Revisal." More school history.


Biographers said Battle's success came from his industrious and scrupulous nature. "He could not arrive at a conclusion except in a direct line," Frank Spruill of Rocky Mount said at the presentation of a portrait of Battle to the Law School in 1923. "He could not trim or pursue the devious route in thinking. His was ever the plain, direct and plodding method that found no difficulty insuperable, and no path too arduous, so that the truth was at the end. His opinions, therefore, are potent with a great sincerity, and are full of tremendous conviction."


Battle was also an active member of the Episcopal Church, serving as a member of the church's general convention for 25 years. "His faith was indeed a part of his daily life," Samuel A'Court Ashe wrote in a biography. "He was an ornament to his church, and his faith adorned and enobled his character."


Read the full article in the spring/summer 2010 issue of Carolina Law magazine.

-April 1, 2010

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