Nathaniel Macon, an American statesman, born in Warren co., N. C, in 1757, died at his plantation in the same county, June 29, 1837. He was studying at Princeton, N. J., at the opening of the war of the revolution. In 1777 he left college, and served for a short time as a private in a company of volunteers. Returning to North Carolina, he entered upon the study of the law, but soon enlisted again as a volunteer, and, though several offices were urged on him, served as a common soldier under the command of his brother, Col. John Macon. He continued in the army till the provisional treaty of peace in 1782, and was present at the fall of Charleston, the rout at Camden, and during the pursuit of Greene across Carolina by Lord Cornwallis. For his military service he refused any pay, nor would he accept a pension. While yet in the army, in 1780, he was elected a member of the senate of North Carolina, in which post he continued to serve through 1785, and though very young-was employed on the most important committees of that body. He advocated the scheme of pledging the credit of the state to redeem her paper issues at their then depreciated rates, but held that the promises of the state must at any rate be redeemed.
During this period he settled on a plantation on the bank of the Roanoke, in Warren co., and made this spot his home for the remainder of his life, finding his main occupation and enjoyment in the cultivation of his farm. When the constitution of the United States was first submitted to the vote of the people of North Carolina, he opposed it as conferring too much power on the new government. He was a member of congress from 1791 to 1815, and was the speaker of the house from 1801 to 1806, when he declined renomination. He was transferred in 1816 to the senate, where he served till 1828, being president pro tern. in 1825-'7. Twice during Jefferson's administration he declined the office of postmaster general. At the general election in 1824 the state of Virginia cast for him her 24 electoral votes for the vice presidency of the United States. In 1828 he resigned his seat in the senate and several local offices, having been a member of congress for 37 successive years. He presided over the convention called to revise the constitution of North Carolina in 1835, and was a member of the electoral college of that state in 1836. In congress Mr. Macon voted for the embargo, and for the declaration of war against Great Britain, but held that the war should be defensive only, and so refused to enlarge the naval force beyond what was needed to guard the coasts, voted against a system of fortifications, against privateering, etc.
He also voted against all schemes of internal improvement to be undertaken by congress, spoke in 1795 against a grant to the count de Grasse, and in 1824 against a grant of lands to Gen. Lafayette for revolutionary services. In the convention of North Carolina he spoke against giving to free negroes the right to vote; against a land qualification of voters; against the state engaging in any works of internal improvement; against all religious tests as a condition of holding office; and in favor of voting viva voce at all elections. He died after only a few hours' illness, but had already given directions to a neighbor to make for him a plain coffin, to be paid for before his interment, had selected for the place of his burial a barren ridge, where the plough could never come, and ordered the spot to be marked only by a pile of loose stones from the field. Mr. Macon was a student of few books besides the Bible, and was a member of the Baptist church. Mr. Jefferson called him "the last of the Romans;" and Mr. Randolph pronounced him "the wisest man he ever knew." A sketch of his life, by Edward R. Cotton, was published at Baltimore in 1840.