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The Celebration of Governor Richard
 Father of Our State

AUGUST 12-19, 2007

The Colonial Commission has organized a steering committee to plan the Celebration of Gov. Richard Caswell to take place the week of the re-dedication and re-opening of the the Richard Caswell Memorial State Historic Site in August 2007.  a series of events will take place between Sunday August 12 and Sunday August 19.


Adopted 8/2/07
HOUSE RESOLUTION honoring the memory of Richard Caswell, Revolutionary War hero and the Governor of North Carolina, and recognizing the month of August 2007 as Richard Caswell month.

(click here)

Steering Committee Schedule of Events Caswell Book Caswell Essays Caswell Celebration Sponsors

Order of the Caswell Descendants

Media Coverage




            Kinston will be the site in mid-August of a week-long Celebration of Governor Richard Caswell, one of Kinston’s first landowners, a Revolutionary War hero and the first governor of the State of North Carolina. 

            Planned for August 12-19 and including dozens of commemorative events, the celebration is being organized by the Lenoir County Colonial Commission under the auspices of the Historical Preservation Group.  It is expected to attract attendees from all over the state, possibly as many as (25,000) throughout the week. 

The Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial State Historic Site Museum, also a partner in the celebration’s planning, will re-open with new exhibits during the observance of Caswell’s contributions to the state. 

Dr. Keats Sparrow, retired dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University, is chairing the steering committee for the Caswell Celebration.  He said, “Richard Caswell is certainly a central character in the early development of North Carolina and one of the state’s ‘first citizens.’  We intend for the celebration to honor him appropriately and demonstrate the importance of his life.” 

Sparrow added, “Given the celebration’s cultural and historical implications, the Celebration of Governor Richard Caswell could well be the most important event of its type ever held in Kinston.  As a native of the city, I’m both proud and excited.” 

The observance will formally begin with the Richard Caswell Memorial Service at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, August 12 at 3 p.m.  At 5 p.m. a series of commemorative events will begin at the courthouse’s Caswell Monument, including the laying of a wreath and a presentation of flags. 

On the following day, the Colonial Commission will release the first biography of Governor Caswell at a Kinston Community Council of the Arts reception.  The book, already being called a valuable resource for the study of colonial and revolutionary periods in the state, will then go on sale. 

Throughout the week, there will be concerts, lectures, exhibits of period artifacts and special observances.  Caswell will even be honored at a Kinston Indians baseball game and many of his descendants will be attending a Caswell Family Reunion in the city.

On Friday, August 17, major events will conclude with a mock funeral for Caswell conducted by local Masons.  A glass-covered, horse-drawn hearse will deliver the Caswell “body” to the Caswell Family Cemetery, where full Masonic Rites will be performed. 

Many state dignitaries will be on hand for the “funeral” and the general public is invited.  Military demonstrations and similar living history events will continue throughout the afternoon. 

As a young man, Caswell bought land in an area that later became Kinston.  As a professional surveyor, he laid out the town and helped name the streets, including Caswell Street.  He also married the daughter of William Herritage, a prominent attorney. 

In 1774, Caswell was elected to represent North Carolina at the First and Second Continental Congresses held in Philadelphia, along with William Hooper and Joseph Hewes.  John Adams was to later say, “We always looked to Richard Caswell from North Carolina.  He was a model man and true patriot.” 

Later, he was to lead colonial forces at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge where the colonials defeated the Tories, a victory that established Caswell as a Revolutionary War hero.  He became a brigadier general and commanded the Army of North Carolina. 

Shortly thereafter, Caswell was elected as North Carolina’s first governor, a post he held for six terms.  He is credited with firm leadership and sound guidance as the state went through the turbulent post-Revolutionary years. 

While presiding in 1789 over the state’s General Assembly meeting in the capital city of Fayetteville, Caswell died of a stroke.  His body was returned to Kinston where he is thought to have been buried in the family cemetery. 

Dr. Sparrow noted, “Richard Caswell made a stunning contribution to the United States in its beginning.  Furthermore, he can be called the “father” of North Carolina with little exaggeration.” 


Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial Partnership
Colonial Commission and the Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial Site Historic Site

Working together to help make the Richard Caswell Memorial Site a rich experience in
interpreting the authentic history of one of our great colonial leaders and heroes.


    Kinston believes that Richard Caswell, the State’s first elected governor, has never received his proper recognition.  Therefore, the Lenoir County Colonial Commission in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources is sponsoring a week-long celebration Aug. 12-19, 2007 to honor Caswell’s leadership and many contributions—military and political—to assure the State’s independence from Great Britain.
    Members of the North Carolina General Assembly are being invited to participate in the events of the celebration week; Governor Mike Easley is being invited to lead the events of Aug. 17, 2007.
    The events of the week may be taped to form the basis of a television special on Caswell’s life for distribution to public television stations and public schools.

    The first book about Richard Caswell and his life and times will be published by the Lenoir County Colonial Commission. Publication will coincide with the Aug. 12-19, 2007 event.

The Colonial Commission has raised helped raise $5,500 for the interactive exhibits to be displayed in the refurbished Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial Museum.

Special Thanks To

James H. Tripp
Society of the Cincinnati

For Their Generous Donations