Samuel A'Court Ashe (September 13, 1840 – 1938) was a Confederate infantry captain in the American Civil War and celebrated editor, historian, and North Carolina legislator. Prior to his death in 1938, he was the last surviving commissioned officer of the Confederate States Army. Samuel's father, William Shepperd Ashe (1814–1862), served in the North Carolina state senate and United States Congressman. The United Confederate Veterans conferred the title of Brigadier General upon Samuel A. Ashe in 1936 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ashe is also noted for his booklet on the war titled A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65.
Born in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina in 1840, Ashe grew up near Wilmington and spent much of his life in Raleigh. He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he met future naval historian and life-long friend Alfred Thayer Mahan. When the war erupted, Ashe enlisted in the Confederate Army and served for its duration, rising to the rank of captain. Among his duty assignments was serving at Fort Caswell, on the eastern end of Oak Island.
After the war, Samuel married Hannah Emerson Willard in 1871 and had nine children (one of whom was William Willard Ashe, the noted botanist and associate of the United States Forest Service). Samuel studied law in Wilmington, later establishing a law practice there. Active in the Democratic Party, Ashe worked for several government departments and ultimately served in the North Carolina House of Representatives. As a legislator, Ashe revised North Carolina tax laws concerning the resolution of state debts.
Ashe became editor of the Raleigh Daily News, and subsequently purchased the Raleigh Daily Observer, merging the two to become editor of both publications. A prolific writer, he wrote many materials between the period of 1908 and 1935 on the subjects of North Carolina history, the Civil War, and the post-war South. Perhaps Captain Ashe's most renown publication is his booklet on the war published in 1935 and titled A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65, in which he addressed the subject of the constitutionality of the South's secession from the United States and other similar topics pertaining to the Confederacy, Abraham Lincoln, and the war.
The contents of A Southern View... are as follows: (1) The Slave Trade; (2) Steps Leading to War; (3) Nullification, North and South; (4) The States Made the Union; (5) The Right of Secession; (6) Virginia's Ratification of the Constitution; (7) Motion of Thursday, the 26th of June, 1788; (8) Ratification by New York and Rhode Island; (9) Secession, Insurrection of the Negroes, and Northern Incendiarism; (10) The Modern Case of John Brown; (11) Why South Carolina Seceded; (12) Secession of the Cotton States; (13) President Lincoln's Inaugural; (14) Lincoln and the Constitution; (15) Lincoln, The Lawyer; (16) Lincoln, The Usurper; (17) Abraham Lincoln, The Citizen; (18) Lincoln as a Strategist; (19) Conditions Just After the War; (20) The War Between the Northern States and the Southern States; (21) The Patriotic Address of Jefferson Davis; (22) Postscript A Letter to a Boston Newspaper.
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