William E. Bond

William E. Bond was born on May 5, 1822, in Chowan County, North Carolina, to Edmund Bond and Elizabeth Gregory. His mother died on July 22, 1824, and his father followed sometime in 1826. William and his sister Elizabeth probably went to live with an uncle, and he enrolled at Wake Forest Institute (the precursor to Wake Forest University) in the mid-1830s. In July 1837, he reported that he was “progressing very fast in my study” and had to “study very hard as my class will enter college next year.” He asked his uncle for $75 to pay for tuition, and he complained that he had “hardly enough pocket money this year to buy a watermellon.”

Bond enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1839 to study mathematics, natural philosophy, and ancient languages. He withdrew from the university in February 1840 “on account of ill health,” but he returned a year later and began studying law. He settled in Edenton, North Carolina, and worked as a lawyer and farmer. He married Virginia M. Darden in the late 1840s, and they had at least four children together: William Marion, born around 1858; Linwood Darden, born around 1861; Anna L., born around 1864; and Edward, born around 1867. By 1850, Bond owned $2,080 in real estate and at least eleven slaves. The 1860 census reported him as a retired merchant in Portsmouth, Virginia, but it is unclear whether he was living in the city or simply visiting. By then, he owned $10,000 in real estate and $21,900 in personal property, including at least six slaves.

Bond played an active role in North Carolina’s Democratic Party. He attended the party’s county convention in 1848 and won a seat in the state legislature two years later. He served as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention in 1854, and in April 1855, he defended the Kansas-Nebraska Act at a partisan meeting in Chowan County. The crowd agreed that the “stability of our Federal compact” and the “peace and prosperity of the country” depended upon “the principle of non-interference by the General Government in the domestic policy of the Sovereign States.” A year later, Bond resolved that President Franklin Pierce “deserves the gratitude of the whole country for his faithful adherence to Democratic principles…[and] for his unflinching determination to defend [the South’s] constitutional rights against the unholy designs of Northern abolitionists.”

During the secession crisis, Bond struggled to balance his commitment to slavery with his devotion to the Union. At a meeting in Edenton in February 1861, he expressed “great fears for the safety of the Union” and pleaded for a “permanent settlement” to the conflict over slavery. He supported the Washington Peace Conference—a desperate attempt to resolve the crisis and avert civil war—and vowed to “abide by any settlement which [the delegates] may agree upon.” As “long as we can secure our rights in the Union,” Bond and his neighbors agreed, they had a sacred duty to hold the country together. After “all means have failed to settle or adjust” the conflict, however, they would “stand by the slaveholding States in every emergency.”

In February 1861, North Carolina held a vote to decide whether to call a secession convention. In the same election, voters selected delegates in case the convention vote succeeded. Bond, running as a Unionist, carried Chowan County by a vote of 367 to 79. The county’s convention vote was closer: 222 men voted against the convention, while 204 supported it. Statewide, the convention referendum narrowly failed, but the state ultimately seceded in May 1861 after President Abraham Lincoln called for soldiers to suppress the Confederate rebellion.

When the Civil War erupted, Bond apparently retreated from public life. As he later recalled, he “had to bear the trials of persecution” during the war, as his neighbors largely embraced the Confederate cause. Then, in February 1863, the Union navy arrived in Edenton and ordered the town’s adult men to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States. Bond immediately complied, along with only thirteen other men. As one editor observed, Bond was a “thoroughly loyal” Union man who “never faltered in [his] allegiance to the government.”

In the summer of 1865, as former slaves laid claim to freedom, Bond helped organize a “Police guard” in Chowan County. He vowed to “aid [the governor] in restoring order,” explaining that “the situation of the Freedmen requires looking after.” Bond and his neighbors bitterly resented the federal soldiers stationed nearby, insisting that they “insult our Citizens, and disturb the peace and quiet of our Community.” In a letter to President Andrew Johnson later that year, Bond declared himself a “quiet, conscientious Constitutional Union-man.” He warned, however, that “Military or Mobocratic coercion” would “absolve [him] from all moral & political responsibility” to the Union.

Bond helped organize a local Union Party, and he ran for Congress in the fall of 1865. In his platform, he vowed to restore North Carolina to the Union “in the shortest possible time, and with the least possible dispute or dissension.” He supported Johnson’s lenient plan for Reconstruction, and he stood “utterly opposed to negro suffrage on any terms.” Ultimately, however, he lost the election by a vote of 2,783 to 450. As he explained to Johnson, his neighbors had “not yet lost their dread of the Secession tyrants” and were “not yet able to shake off their rule.” Impressed by Bond’s loyalty, the president commissioned him as a tax collector in July 1866.

Bond served as an officer in the local Republican Union Club in 1867, but he broke ties with the party as Congressional Republicans empowered and enfranchised African Americans. In 1872, he joined the Conservative Party and ran for a seat in the state legislature. A political ally declared him “the most popular man in the county,” and even one opponent confessed that he had “always been very popular.” One writer claimed that Bond’s “greatest fault is that he is without an enemy.” Despite his popularity, however, he fell short of victory.

Bond remained active in the state’s Democratic Party for the rest of his life, attending political meetings until at least 1900. As one writer observed, Bond was the “ready man of the Democratic party of our district. He’s always at his post of duty,” and when “called to [action], he asks no question.” His health declined in the 1890s, and he was “stricken with paralysis” in October 1892. He died in Chowan County on January 16, 1903, and was buried in the local Baptist Cemetery.


William E. Bond Runs for Congress

William E. Bond Petitions Andrew Johnson

Name:Bond, William E.
Alternative names:
  • UVA (Union)
  • Civilian
Branch of service:
Residence at UVA:North Carolina
UVA Begin Year:1839
UVA End Year:1841
Residence at enlistment:
Rank In:
Rank Out:
Highest rank achieved:
Birth date:1822-05-05
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:Chowan County, NC
Death date:1903-01-16
Death place:Chowan County, NC
Causes of death:
Occupations:Farmer, Attorney
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Bond, William E.parent ofBond, William Marion
Bond, William E.parent ofBond, Linwood Darden
Bond, William E.parent ofBond, Anna L.
Bond, William E.parent ofBond, Edward
Bond, Virginia M.wife ofBond, William E.

1820, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 United States Federal Censuses, available from Ancestry.com; The North-Carolina Star, 6 August 1824; The Weekly Standard, 5 July 1848, 5 June 1850, 6 March 1861; The Democratic Pioneer, 17 April 1855 and 12 February 1856; Weekly Raleigh Register, 27 February 1861; Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, 26 February 1863; The Daily Standard, 28 October 1865, 10 April 1866, and 25 June 1867; The Weekly Economist, 9 July 1872 and 20 July 1900; The New Berne Times, 10 March 1872; The Washington Gazette, 20 October 1892; Catalogue of the Officers and Students of the University of Virginia, Session of 1839-40 (Charlottesville: Robert C. Noel, 1840); A Catalogue of the Officers and Students of the University of Virginia, Seventeenth Session, 1840-1841 (Charlottesville: Chronicle Steam Book Printing House, 1880); Session 16 of the Faculty Minutes, September 1, 1839-July 4, 1840, Jefferson’s University: The Early Life; North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, available from Ancestry.com; Elizabeth Gregory McPherson, “Letters from North Carolina to Andrew Johnson (Continued),” The North Carolina Historical Review 27, no. 4 (October 1950), 462-490; William E. Bond to Andrew Johnson, 20 November 1865, The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 9: September 1865-January 1866, ed. Paul H. Bergeron (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991).