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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shelby in Cleveland County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Plato Durham

 
 
Plato Durham Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
1. Plato Durham Marker
Inscription. Confederate captain; legislator; member of conventions of 1868, '75; conservative leader in Reconstruction period. His home was 100 ft. S.
 
Erected 1948 by Archives, Conservation, and Highway Departments. (Marker Number O-24.)
 
Location. 35° 17.448′ N, 81° 32.334′ W. Marker is in Shelby, North Carolina, in Cleveland County. Marker is at the intersection of East Warren Street and South Washington Street, on the right when traveling east on East Warren Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shelby NC 28150, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cleveland County World War II Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Cleveland County World War I Memorial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cleveland County Korean and Vietnam War Memorial (about 400 feet away); Cleveland County Civil War Monument (about 400 feet away); Webbley (approx. 0.2 miles away); Thomas Dixon Jr. (approx. 0.4 miles away); O. Max Gardner (approx. 0.4 miles away); W. J. Cash (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shelby.
 
Additional comments.
1. Plato Durham from
Sunset Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
2. Sunset Cemetery
Plato Durham's burial grounds.
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program site

Plato Durham, Reconstruction-era legislator, was born on September 20, 1840, in Rutherford County, the son of Micajah and Elizabeth Baxter Durham. Although his family was well off, he was one of fourteen children, and received an education described by his son as “at the county schools and plow handles.” At the age of eighteen, he began reading law in Rutherfordton, and continued his studies with an uncle in Knoxville.

Micajah Durham served as an enthusiastic member of the stateís Secession Convention of 1861. Upon the outbreak of war, Plato enlisted as a private in Company E, 12th North Carolina Infantry, citing his occupation as law student. Several of his brothers served alongside him while their father enlisted in Company E, 18th North Carolina Infantry. On November 1, 1862, Plato was elected 3rd Lieutenant, and subsequently was promoted to captain of his company. He served through the war without injury despite participating in some of the warís bloodiest battles such as Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Spotsylvania, before surrendering at Appomattox Courthouse. Two of his brothers, as well as their father, died in the conflict.

Following the war, Durham attended the University of North Carolina and was admitted to the bar in Shelby in 1866. That year he was elected to the legislature
Sunset Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
3. Sunset Cemetery
Plato Durham's burial grounds.
representing Cleveland County, and subsequently took part in the Constitutional Convention of 1868 as the leader of the minority Democrat party. He advocated the inviolability of state debt, the removal of political duress on ex-Confederates, and the barring of blacks from holding political offices.

Durham ran for Congress in 1868, and was elected by a margin of eighteen votes, but the election was set aside by General E. R. S. Canby, the United States army officer in charge of the district on account of fraud. On recount the election was given to Durhamís Republican opponent, A. H. Jones. Durham received his partyís nomination to Congress in 1870, but never fully entered the race. Denied the nomination in 1874, he ran unsuccessfully as an independent.

A member of the Ku Klux Klan, Durham was arrested during the Kirk-Holden War by Federal authorities for his role in the groupís uncontrolled attacks on Republican supporters and African Americans in the area. He was never brought to trial. However he served numerous Klan members as a defense counsel, often posted their bail, and sought out executive clemency for them.

During the Constitutional Convention of 1875, Durham was one of the leaders in the Democratic resurgence that followed Radical Reconstruction. However, before he could attain any higher public office, his life was cut short by pneumonia
Plato Durham Grave image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
4. Plato Durham Grave
at age 35 on November 9, 1875. Durham left a widow and three children.
    — Submitted October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

 
Categories. PoliticsWar, US Civil
 
Plato Durham Grave image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
5. Plato Durham Grave
Plato Durham Grave image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
6. Plato Durham Grave
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,143 times since then and 42 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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