Come quick, Pa — it’s a Republican candidate!

On this day in 1908: William Howard Taft becomes the first Republican presidential candidate ever to campaign in North Carolina. His train makes whistlestops in Statesville, Salisbury, Lexington, High Point and Greensboro before continuing on to Virginia.

Taft will easily defeat Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan for the presidency, but another 20 years will pass before North Carolina goes Republican, choosing Herbert Hoover over Al Smith.


Josephus Daniels, managing editor at large

“At 79, famed Tarheel Editor Josephus Daniels last week staged a spry comeback on his lively, incomplete, partisan, aggressive, successful Raleigh News & Observer. After a nine-year absence (as Ambassador to Mexico) shrewd old ‘Uncle Joe’ Daniels had ‘enlisted for the war’ to replace his son Jonathan, who went to OCD [Office of Civil Defense] in Washington.

“By contrast to his smart, facile son Jonathan, wrinkled old Editor Daniels, in his black planter’s hat and elder-statesman tie, was a figure who easily evoked oldtime reminiscences. A full-fledged editor at 18, he had tangled in many a garrulous crusade against North Carolina railroads, tobacco and power companies. Great pal of William Jennings Bryan (of whom he wrote an 8,000-word obituary in six hours) and a hard-shelled Dry, he banned liquor on Navy ships.

“Last week Editor Daniels added a commentary on his Navy days: ‘Even when I was “absent without leave” from the sanctum during the eight years as Secretary of the Navy in the Woodrow Wilson administration,’ chuckled old Josephus, ‘I thought of myself as managing editor of the Navy rather than as a Cabinet official.’ ”

— From Time magazine, February 16, 1942

Time certainly went into adjectival high gear for the Danielses and their newspaper, but where’s the imagination in referring to Josephus as “old” three times in three paragraphs?

Pictured: Josephus and Addie Daniels on one of their annual photo Christmas cards.

Pictures from an Institution (Chautauqua, that is)

Notes from a recent week at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state:

— During the late 1800s and early 1900s (before radio and the Depression) the Chautauqua Movement spread adult education across the land in a variety of forms, first with Daughter Chautauquas, later with touring tent Chautauquas.

From what I could piece together from the Chautauqua archives, the closest North Carolina came to establishing a Daughter Chautauqua may have been at Lake Junaluska. According to a surviving flyer, William Jennings Bryan headlined the “Chautauqua Features” during the 1916 session.

Using the Chautauqua brand requires no approval from the founders, so it has been borrowed often (and casually) as a label for adult ed projects.  In 1979 the Chautauqua Institution received an inquiry from Mary Jo Clark, “Chautauqua project coordinator” for the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, who had “received a grant to develop a comprehensive plan for a North Carolina Chautauqua”…. Does anyone know the fate of that idea?

— Summer regulars frequently trace the name of Chautauqua Lake to a Native American word meaning “bag tied in the middle,” a reference to the lake’s narrow midsection. But Chautauqua archivist Jonathan Schmitz acknowledges the North Carolina Gazetteer’s version as at least as feasible:

Chattoka, a Tuscarora Indian village appearing on the Lawson map, 1709, and the Moll map, 1729, between the Neuse and Trent Rivers, central Craven County. The name meant ‘where the fish are taken out.’ When the Tuscarora Indians moved to [that is, fled to] New York, they took the name with them and it has survived as Chautauqua.”

— Finally, in a week of delights from far afield, what a provincial thrill to hear the always provocative Bishop John Shelby Spong, a Charlotte native,  and to meet Patricia McBride, associate artistic  director of North Carolina Dance Theatre, which serves each year as Chautauqua’s resident ballet company.

Pictured: A pinback button from a “circuit” or “tent” Chautauqua.