I’m stymied. I obtained these place cards from a collector who was breaking up a full set of U.S. senators said to have attended a presidential — perhaps — dinner.
If so, because of the long and nearly simultaneous tenures of Lee Overman (1903-1930) and Furnifold Simmons (1901-1931), the hosting president could have been Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge or Hoover.
Overman was from Salisbury, Simmons from New Bern — simple enough. But what about “Via Charlotte” and “Via Wilmington”? Railroad connections? Why would that be worth mentioning?
And what might the initial “B” stand for?
“TO THE VOTERS OF NORTH CAROLINA:
“The most memorable campaign ever waged in North Carolina is approaching Its end. It has been a campaign of startling and momentous developments….
“For the first time in the annals of political campaigning in the State, desperate leaders threw away all reserve and semblance of truth, and deliberately sought by misrepresentations and falsehoods to deceive the people about the damning facts which make up their well-established record…..
“The battle has been fought, the victory is within our reach. North Carolina is a WHITE MAN’S State, and WHITE MEN will rule it, and they will crush the party of negro domination beneath a majority so overwhelming that no other party will ever again dare to attempt to establish negro rule here….”
— From “[State Democratic] Chairman F.M. Simmons Issues a Patriotic and Able Address, Summing Up the Issues, and Appealing Eloquently to the White Voters To Redeem the State” in the News & Observer (Nov. 3, 1898)
Furnifold Simmons‘ efforts were brutally successful, putting Democrats in control of state government and setting the stage for the Wilmington coup of 1898.
In 2007 the North Carolina Democratic Party apologized.
“As Furnifold Simmons kicked off the  campaign, his cohort Josephus Daniels used the Raleigh News and Observer to spread wildly exaggerated accounts of interracial clashes between average citizens on the streets of eastern North Carolina cities. Simmons recalled later that they ‘filled the papers… with portraits of Negro officers and candidates….The newspapers carried numerous exposures of Negro insolence and violence.
‘”At first some eastern North Carolinians laughed openly at the tactic. The New Berne Journal quipped: ‘The “outrage” editor of the News and Observer is getting “slow.” He has not reported a case in Craven County in three days.’
“Simmons collected contributions from industrialists across the state to reprint Daniels’ article as broadsides….”
— From “Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920” by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (1996)
“At Wake Forest [W. J. Cash] became… a fan of H. L. Mencken, the acerbic Baltimore journalist who’d derided the South as ‘the Sahara of the Bozart’…. He wanted to write for Mencken’s magazine, American Mercury. In 1929 [it] published his Menckenesque dismantling of U.S. Sen. Furnifold Simmons…. ‘the stateliest Neanderthaler who ever cooled his heels on a Capitol Hill desk’….
“Other articles in the Mercury would follow, including an indignant portrayal of Charlotte as a citadel of bigotry and Babbitry, besotted by Presbyterianism and in love with Duke Power Co., a city where life for many consisted of ‘a dreary ritual of the office, golf and the church’ that is ‘unbearably dull even for Presbyterians.’
“Cash’s 1929 article ‘The Mind of the South’ attracted the interest of the Knopf publishing house. Cash told Blanche Knopf of his plans to expand it into a book [not published until 1941] with the thesis that ‘the Southern mind represents a very definite culture, or attitude towards life, a heritage, from the Old South, but greatly modified and extended by conscious and unconscious efforts over the last hundred years to protect itself from the encroachments of three hostile factors: the Yankee Mind, the Modern Mind, and the Negro.’
“The salient characteristic of the Southern mind, Cash argued, ‘is a magnificent incapacity for the real, a Brobdingnagian talent for the fantastic’ — a mind, in short, that is wholly unadjusted to the demands of the modern world.”
— From remarks Sunday by Ed Williams, retired editor of the editorial pages of the Charlotte Observer, at the induction of W. J. Cash into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame
Also inducted: Walter Hines Page, Allan Gurganus, Robert Morgan and Samm-Art Williams.