Yesterday I wrote about Richard Dobbs Spaight (1758-1802), a prominent North Carolina public figure who advocated for the construction of a fort on Beacon Island in Ocracoke Inlet. In 1802, after a bitter public feud with attorney and political rival John Stanly (1774-1834), Spaight agreed to meet Stanly for a duel to settle their disagreements.
On September 5, 1802, on the fourth round of the duel, Spaight was shot in the side, and died the next day.
According to NCpedia, "[O]n November 5, 1802, the General Assembly (1802) passed an act 'to Prevent the Vile Practice of Dueling within this state.' The death of a high-profile politician pushed many to consider the drawbacks of dueling, and the new law prohibited duel participants from holding public office and required them to pay a heavy fine. It also stated that the survivor of a duel to the death would be executed without benefit of clergy. Though as historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown writes (2007, 303), 'it would be a mistake…to argue that duels were as much deplored as southern hand-wringing would lead an observer to believe.' Many prominent North Carolinians simply took their duels to Virginia or South Carolina in following years. Ultimately, since those politicians who passed anti-dueling laws were from the social class that most often engaged in dueling, such legislation was rarely enforced....
"... Not until the massive social and cultural changes of the Civil War era did dueling truly die in the South."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: