Matt W. Ransom
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 7, 1895 – January 10, 1895
Preceded byIsham G. Harris
Succeeded byIsham G. Harris
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
January 30, 1872 – March 4, 1895
Preceded byJoseph Carter Abbott
Succeeded byMarion Butler
United States Minister to Mexico
In office
PresidentGrover Cleveland
Preceded byIsaac P. Gray
Succeeded byPowell Clayton
Attorney General of North Carolina
In office
GovernorDavid Settle Reid
Preceded byWilliam Eaton Jr.
Succeeded byJoseph B. Batchelor
Personal details
Born(1826-10-08)October 8, 1826
Warren County, North Carolina
DiedOctober 8, 1904(1904-10-08) (aged 78)
Garysburg, North Carolina
Political partyDemocratic
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States
Branch/service Confederate States Army
Years of service1861–1865
RankBrigadier general
Unit1st North Carolina Infantry Regiment
Commands35th North Carolina Infantry
Ransom's Brigade
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Matthew Whitaker Ransom (October 8, 1826 – October 8, 1904) was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and a Democratic U.S. senator from the state of North Carolina between 1872 and 1895.[1]

Early life

Matt Ransom was born in Warren County, North Carolina, to Robert and Priscilla Whitaker Ransom. He was the elder brother of General Robert Ransom, a cousin to fellow Confederate officer Wharton J. Green, who served as a U. S. Congressman after the Civil War, and a cousin to physician and aviation pioneer William Whitney Christmas. Matt Ransom graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1847, where he was a member of the Philanthropic Society.


After serving as North Carolina Attorney General and as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, Matt W. Ransom was chosen as one of the three commissioners from North Carolina to the Confederate government at Montgomery, Alabama, in 1861.

American Civil War

Ransom was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 1st North Carolina Infantry Regiment and later colonel of the 35th North Carolina Infantry. This regiment was part of his brother Robert's brigade, which Matt later commanded. Ransom was promoted to brigadier general on June 13, 1863. Ransom saw action in the battles of Seven Pines, the Seven Days Battles, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Plymouth, Weldon, Suffolk and the siege of Petersburg. He was wounded three times during the Civil War and finally surrendered at Appomattox.

Later life

After the war, Ransom moved to Weldon, North Carolina, in 1866 where he was a planter and lawyer. In 1872, he was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy in the term commencing March 4, 1871. Ransom was re-elected in 1876, 1883, and 1889 and served from January 30, 1872, to March 4, 1895. Ransom served briefly as President Pro tempore of the Senate during the 53rd Congress. He was later appointed United States Minister to Mexico and served from 1895 to 1897.[2]

Following his term as ambassador, Ransom retired to Verona, his estate, and engaged in agricultural pursuits.[3]

Personal life

On January 19, 1853, Ransom married Martha Anne "Pattie" Exum of Northampton County, North Carolina. The couple resided at Verona, the Exum family's plantation on the banks of the Roanoke River. Matt and Martha produced at least eight children together: Matt W., Jr., Joseph E., George E., Esther, Patrick Exum, and Robert. A slaveholder, Matt W. Ransom also sired two children with Emma Outland, one of the women of African descent Ransom enslaved; Matt W. Ransom's children with the enslaved Emma Outland were Douglas Ransom (born 1859) and Alice Ransom (wife of Edward "Ned" Rawles, one of North Carolina's first African-American state legislators).[4][5]

He died near Garysburg, North Carolina, on his 78th birthday, October 8, 1904.[3] Ransom was buried on his estate, near Jackson, North Carolina. Verona was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Barrett, John G. (1994). "Ransom, Matt[hew] Whitaker". Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  2. ^ "Ransom For Minister To Mexico. The North Carolina Senator Is Named by the President and His Nomination Is Promptly Confirmed". The New York Times. February 24, 1895.
  3. ^ a b "Ransom, Poor In Senate, Dies, Leaving Fortune. North Carolinian Made $250,000 by Farming in Old Age. Defeated By The Populists. Controlled the "Old North State" Politically Until Marion Butler Succeeded Him in Senate". The New York Times. October 9, 1904.
  4. ^ "The Political Graveyard: African ancestry Politicians in North Carolina". Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  5. ^ "Individual Page: gerrha -- Southern Ransoms". Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  6. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.


Legal offices Preceded byWilliam Eaton Jr. Attorney General of North Carolina 1853–1855 Succeeded byJoseph B. Batchelor U.S. Senate Preceded byJoseph C. Abbott U.S. senator (Class 2) from North Carolina 1872–1895 Served alongside: John Pool, Augustus S. Merrimon, Zebulon B. Vance, Thomas J. Jarvis, Jeter C. Pritchard Succeeded byMarion Butler Honorary titles Preceded byIsham G. Harris President pro tempore of the United States Senate January 7, 1895 – January 10, 1895 Succeeded byIsham G. Harris Diplomatic posts Preceded byIsaac P. Gray United States Ambassador to Mexico 1895–1897 Succeeded byPowell Clayton