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William Gaston

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Jurist; b. at Newbern, North Carolina , U.S.A. 19 Sept., 1778: d. at Raleigh, North Carolina , 28 January 1844. His father, Dr. Alexander Gaston, a Presbyterian native of Ireland, formerly a surgeon in the British Navy, was killed at Newbern by British soldiers during the Revolution, and his education devolved on his mother Margaret Sharpe, a Catholic Englishwoman. She sent him to Georgetown College in 1791, his name being the name being inscribed on the roll of the students of that institution. After staying there four years he entered Princeton College, New Jersey, where he graduated with first honours in 1796. He then studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1798. In August, 1800, Gaston was elected to the Senate of his native state, although its constitution at the time contained a clause excluding Catholics from office. Elected to Congress in 1813 and 1815, his career in Washington was active and brilliant, as one of the influential leaders of Federal party. Resuming the practice of law, he was elevated in 1833 to the bench of the supreme Court of North Carolina, an office which he held for the remainder of his life. In the convention of 1835 he was mainly instrumental in securing the repeal of the article of the North Carolina State Constitution that practically disfranchised Catholics. He was one of the most intimate friends of Bishop England, and his splendid gifts of intellect were always devoted to the promotion of the Faith and the welfare of his fellow Catholics.

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