Richard Caswell (1729 – 1789)

CASWELL, Richard, a Delegate from North Carolina; born in Harford (now Baltimore) County, Md., August 3, 1729; moved to North Carolina in 1746; appointed deputy surveyor of the colony in 1750; clerk of the court of Orange County 1752-1754; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1754 and commenced practice in Hillsboro, N.C.; member of the colonial house of delegates 1754-1771, and served as speaker the last two years; commanded the right wing of Governor Tryon’s army at the Battle of Alamance in 1771; served in the Revolutionary Army; Member of the Continental Congress 1774-1775; commanded the patriots at the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge, North Carolina, February 23, 1776; appointed brigadier general of the New Bern District by the Provincial Congress in 1776; delegate to the State constitutional convention and its president in 1776; Governor of North Carolina 1776-1780; commanded the North Carolina troops at the Battle of Camden in 1780; comptroller general in 1782; member of the State senate 1782-1784 and served as speaker; again elected Governor in 1785 and served until 1787; appointed delegate from North Carolina to the convention that framed the Federal Constitution in 1787, but did not attend; member of the State convention at Fayetteville, N.C., that adopted the Federal Constitution in 1789; member and speaker of the State house of commons in 1789 and served until his death in Fayetteville, N.C., November 10, 1789; interment in the family cemetery on his estate near Kinston, Lenoir County, N.C.

Source:  Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; Bibliography, Connor, R.D.W. (Robert Digges Wimberly). “Richard Caswell,” in Revolutionary Leaders of North Carolina, 79-101. 1916. Reprint edition, Spartansburg, S. C., Repint Co., 1971. Copied from:

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After Josiah Quincy Jr. met with Cornelius Harnett and others in March of 1773 on the need for Committees of Correspondence, Richard Caswell  and Cornelius Harnett, along with seven others were appointed to an nine-person Committee of Correspondence for North Carolina. The work of this committee led to the creation of the Provincial Congress in North Carolina and with other colonies led to the creation of the Continental Congress.  [For more on the above, see introduction to the article “Provincial Congress” under the menu item “Organizations”].

The victory at  the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776 is one of the crowning achievements for the administration of Cornelius Harnett during the time that he was President of the Provincial Council.  As such he was  the Chief Executive Officer of the rebel government of North Carolina for more than a year during 1775 and 1776. Richard Caswell contributed to this achievement. Richard Caswell was one of the top commanders who served under Colonel James Moore at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The success of this military operation owed a great deal to the military and governmental organization created and supported by Cornelius Harnett.  For further details see the articles on the Provincial Council, the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge and the Provincial Congress [especially, the sections on the Third and Fourth Provincial Congresses.]


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