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Home North Carolina Alamance County City of Mebane Historical Markers Alexander Mebane

Alexander Mebane

US 70, Mebane, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 5' 46.1796", -79° 16' 2.4348"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Brigadier general of North Carolina militia, member House of Commons, conventions 1788, 1789, and U.S. Congress. His home stood nearby."
      Alexander Mebane, Revolutionary War officer and United States Congressman, was born on November 26, 1744 at Hawfields in Orange County, the son of Scots-Irish immigrants Alexander and Mary Mebane. Little is known of his early life. However, Mebane established a prosperous farm, and married Mary Armstrong in February 1767.

      An ardent patriot, Mebane played an active role in the Revolutionary War. In December 1776 he served as a delegate to the Provincial Congress in Halifax, and the following year became sheriff of Orange County, a post he held until 1780. Mebane also served as an officer in the Orange County militia. His brother Robert served as a colonel in the Continental Army and was killed in 1781. Mebane’s wife’s family included several Continental Army officers including her brothers James and John.

      Mebane’s own militia service during the war is difficult to compile, although it is fairly clear that he served at Guilford Courthouse, commanding a party of Orange County militia. Several Revolutionary War pension accounts claim service at Guilford under a “Captain Mebane” or “Colonel Mebane”, although it is unclear whether they are referring to Alexander, his brother Robert, or both men.

      On September 12, 1781, a Tory raiding party lead by David Fanning attacked Hillsborough, capturing Governor Thomas Burke as well as legislators and other important state political figures. Only a few individuals escaped, among them Mebane, Orange County militia officer. He managed to reach Hawfields, and spread word that the raiders were near. He then joined General John Butler’s militia forces that attacked Fanning the following day at Lindley’s Mill.

      At the war’s conclusion, Mebane was elected as an Orange County representative to the General Assembly and served as brigadier general of Hillsborough District militia. He also served as auditor of the Hillsborough Constitutional Convention of 1788 and the Fayetteville Convention of 1789. An Anti-Federalist, Mebane voted against ratification unless a bill of rights was included. On November 19, 1789, a majority vote ruled in favor of ratification.

      That same year, Mebane joined the first board of trustees of the University of North Carolina. In 1792, he served on the committee that chose New Hope Chapel Hill as the site for the new school. On October 12, 1793, Mebane helped lay the first cornerstone at the first building erected on campus.

      A few months prior to the presentation of the cornerstone, Mebane was elected to the Third Congress of the United States. He served from 1793 to 1795 and, while in Philadelphia, married Ann Claypoole. (His first wife had died in 1792.) The Mebanes returned to Hawfields after his Congressional term of service ended. Mebane died on July 5, 1795, leaving a large family consisting of a wife, six daughters, and five sons. The town of Mebane is named in his honor.

Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress, 1774-1989 (1989)
Walter Clark, ed., State Records of North Carolina, XXII, XIII, XV, XIX-XXIII, XXV (1895-1906)
William Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, VII, X (1890)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 244—sketch by Thomas E. Baker
Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Fortitude and Forbearance: The North Carolina Continental Line in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 (2004)
Alexander Mebane North Carolina