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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Gales, Seaton

by Robert N. Elliott, 1986

17 May 1828–29 Nov. 1878

Seaton Gales was briefly the official state printer for North Carolina. Image from Gales, editor, was born in Raleigh, the son of Weston R. and Love Freeman Gales. Graduated with honors from The University of North Carolina in 1848, Seaton became editor of the Raleigh Register on the sudden death of his father in July of that year, thus becoming the third generation Gales to edit that newspaper. Two years later he married Mary A. Cameron, daughter of Dr. Thomas N. Cameron of Fayetteville. They had seven children, four sons and three daughters.

Seaton Gales was the first college trained editor in North Carolina journalism. Under his direction the Register was enlarged and telegraph service introduced. On 19 Nov. 1850, a daily edition was begun—the first daily newspaper to be published in North Carolina. However, this effort proved unsuccessful and was discontinued on 29 Jan. 1851. In 1852 and 1853, Gales completely refitted the Register office and purchased a cylinder power press. These expenditures, combined with a decline in circulation, strained the financial resources of the paper. In December 1856 the Register was sold at public auction to John W. Syme of Petersburg, Va.

Until 1861, Gales was associated with the North Carolina Bank. With the outbreak of the Civil War he was appointed adjutant of the Fourth Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers. Promoted to major, he served in northern Virginia. Gales was captured at the Battle of Fisher's Hill on 19 Oct. 1864 and imprisoned at Johnson's Island, a federal prison near Sandusky, Ohio. After the war, in 1866, he became associate editor of the Raleigh Sentinel. Three years later he gave this up and became secretary of the North Carolina Home Insurance Company of Raleigh. Gales was highly regarded throughout the state as a public speaker. He died suddenly at the age of fifty in Washington, D.C., where he was serving as superintendent of the document room of the House of Representatives.


Robert N. Elliott, Jr., The Raleigh Register, 1799–1863 (1955).

Gales Papers (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

A Tribute . . . to Major Seaton Gales (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Additional Resources:

Gales Family Papers, 1815-1939 (collection no. 02652-z). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed August 13, 2013).

"Gales Family." N.C. Highway Historical Marker H-99, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed August 13, 2013).

Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Seaton Gales Lodge, No. 64 (Raleigh, N.C.). By-laws and rules of order of Seaton Gales Lodge, No. 64, I.O.O.F. : to which is prefixed the constitution and general laws for the government of subordinate lodges in North Carolina. Raleigh : Edwards, Broughton, Printers. 1886. (accessed August 13, 2013).

Image Credits:

[Title page]. Memorial soliciting a state hospital for the protection and cure of the insane : submitted to the General Assembly of North Carolina, November, 1848. Raleigh, N.C.: Seaton Gales, printer for the State. 1848. (accessed August 13, 2013).

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