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"Congressman; Minister to Portugal; Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1857-1861; poet and essayist. Buried two blocks West." A first generation American, Abraham Rencher was born in 1798 to a family of prominent Irish immigrants. Well educated, he worked as an attorney before entering into a long political career. His first political office was as a representative in Congress. Rencher was initially a Democrat but became a Whig, breaking with President Andrew Jackson over his handling of the affairs of the Bank of the United States. Rencher became a powerful member of Washington’s political elite, serving on the Ways and Means and Foreign Affairs committees. Because of his political connections, Rencher was appointed to a foreign service post in Portugal in 1843. Rencher and his family enjoyed his appointment in Portugal, which ended in 1847 when President James Polk replaced him with a political ally.
Rencher returned to North Carolina from Portugal and practiced law in Pittsboro. As a new member of the Democratic Party, Rencher was involved in state and local politics. His most lucrative appointment, politically and economically, came in 1857 when he was appointed territorial governor of New Mexico by President James Buchanan. As New Mexico governor, Rencher stressed the importance of public schools, development of natural resources, and taxation to generate revenue to fund internal improvements. Rencher remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War and did not participate in the war effort after he was replaced as governor in late 1861.
After leaving New Mexico, Rencher again returned to Pittsboro and there lived out the rest of his life after a thirty-two year political career. Rencher died in 1883 during a visit to his daughter’s home in Chapel Hill and was buried at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Pittsboro.
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 199-200—sketch by Lawrence F. London
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
(Raleigh) News and Observer, July 8, 1883
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.