The move to pardon impeached and deceased Republican Gov. William Holden is on hold, maybe permanently.
The state Senate pulled back on an attempt to pardon Holden, a governor who was impeached by a Democratic legislature in 1871 after he stood up to the Ku Klux Klan.
After two Klan murders in Alamance and Caswell counties, Holden sent in the militia. The troops took control of two courthouses and arrested more than 100 accused Klan members. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus for some of those involved in the insurrection.
Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican who sponsored the resolution pardoning Holden, said he still wanted it, but some in his caucus argued against it.
"Apparently, there are still some raw feelings back in those districts," Hunt said.
"I want to bring it up," Hunt said. "It's wounded, but it's not dead."
Sen. Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, said Democrats were eager to pardon Holden, "to undo an injustice to a Republican governor."
If the Senate does bring the bill back, it will be after a full committee hearing, said Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca.
"A lot of us don't know which direction to go, and we want to be careful," he said.
A backgrounder on Holden quoting white supremacist historians was distributed anonymously to senators yesterday.
Apodaca said the camera in the Senate chamber was not working, so the person or people who distributed papers has not been identified.
It may be too late, but Holden's biographer sent a statement to the legislature today supporting his pardon.
William C. Harris, an N.C. State University retired history professor, said today's historians of Reconstruction believe the impeachment was "strictly politically motivated and was predetermined once the Conservative Democrats gained control of the General Assembly."
He goes on to give another view of the work of historian Joseph G. de Roulhac Hamilton, whose work was used by an anonymous opponent of the pardon to bash Holden.
White supremacist Democrats used Holden's impeachment and exaggerated crimes of Reconstruction to maintain control and disfranchise blacks, Harris wrote.
"No one was more biased than Joseph G. de Roulhac Hamilton in his book on Reconstruction in North Carolina, published in 1914 at the height of segregation in the South. Hamilton grossly mischaracterized Holden's administration as 'highly partisan' and corrupt, which Hamilton also wrongly claimed, influenced Holden to institute a 'reign of terror' in the state."
Sen. Doug Berger, a Franklin County Democrat and a co-sponsor the pardon resolution, said Senate Republicans are bungling what should have been an easy issue.
"It's a softball piece to project themselves as racially progressive," Berger said. "They're fumbling it."