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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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Washington, William Henry

by John D. Neville, 1996

7 Feb. 1813–12 Aug. 1860

"Stevenson House, New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina," by Francis Benjamin Johnston, 1936.  From the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.  Washington owned the Stevenson House in New Bern.

William Henry Washington, lawyer, congressman, and politician, was born in Wayne County near Goldsboro, the son of Nicholson Washington. He studied law and, after being admitted to the bar in 1835, began to practice in New Bern. A Whig, he was a member of the Twenty-seventh Congress from 1841 to 1843. Declining to seek renomination, he served instead in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1844–45 and 1846–47 and in the North Carolina Senate in 1848–49, 1850–51, and 1852. From 1842 to 1858 he owned the Stevenson House, now a part of the Tryon Palace complex in New Bern.

In 1834 Washington played a significant role in securing passage of legislation to establish the North Carolina Railroad. He also was active in the creation of the New Bern Literary Society, organized in 1843, which he once headed. In an address to the society on one occasion, he contrasted the nature of the English and French as demonstrated by the difference in their revolutions.

On 12 Aug. 1835 in Christ Episcopal Church, New Bern, he married Caroline H. Blount, the second daughter of Dr. Frederick Blount of New Bern. They had two children, Frederick Nicholson and Anna Maria. Washington died in New Bern and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery.


Biog. Dir. Am. Cong., (1950).

John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1979 (1981).

Christ Episcopal Church Register, New Bern.

Raleigh Register and North Carolina Gazette, 12 Aug. 1835.

Alan D. Watson, A History of New Bern and Craven County (1987).

Additional Resources:

"Washington, William Henry, (1813 - 1860)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed March 18, 2014).

Image Credits:

Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. "Stevenson House, New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina". Photograph. 1936. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (accessed March 18, 2014).