First witness to plead the Fifth Amendment before Congress lies moldering in a Tarboro grave

To recall that the first person to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege as the basis for refusing to respond to questions from Congress was from North Carolina is perhaps not untimely.

Perhaps the fact that he was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan is not irrelevant.

Maybe, knowing that he lies buried in a Tarboro churchyard is of less interest, except to a select few. Carved on his tombstone are the words: “I decline to answer.” He took the Fifth 100 times.

He was a lawyer, a Confederate colonel, a founder of the News and Observer, the North Carolina Secretary of State, a long-time trustee of the University of North Carolina, and the editor of the Colonial Records of North Carolina.

Not long ago his name was removed from a building on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

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