1. Pick a NC political leader that we studied and make a case, using readings and your own analysis, why that leader was North Carolina’s most significant political figure of the 20th Century.
Furnifold McLendel Simmons was attorney in New Bern in 1854, who later in his life went on to become a senator for thirty years (Christensen 36). Simmons held a degree from what is now Duke University which, led him to practice law (Christensen 37). He was such an influential political figurehead that North Carolina’s democratic organization that he became known as he Simmons Machine (Christensen 37). Simmons was so powerful in fact he played key roles in the campaigns of Aycock, Glenn, and later Gardner; but people would not vote for Gardner until…show more content…
What led to Simmons to great success was the fact that North Carolina had an exceedingly high number of uneducated voters who often lived and small isolated villages of the Piedmont, farmlands, and mountains. North Carolina did not have access to library books and had the lowest newspaper readership’s in the country. This made it very easy for Simmons to influence the thoughts of these small, close-minded North Carolinians. Since Simmons was such a strong political figure he influenced the hiring of Federal workers such as postal employees, census takers, marshals and deputy marshals, tax collectors, storekeepers etc. to help benefit his political agenda, because at the time postal employees played a large role in educating the townspeople on politics (Christensen 38).
When Simmons went onto the committee of Commerce he obtained funding for the intercostal waterway from Boston to Wilmington, which helped North Carolinas economy greatly. Although, Simmons was one to engage in racial demagoguery as well as being known to steal and election if necessary, he is still one of the most significant political figures of the twentieth century because of his strong influence on policy makers as well as voters. He helped bring a once solely-based agricultural economy to a modern industrialized economy that helped give thousands of jobs and decreased the unemployment and poverty rates in North Carolina. As a political figure