Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BRANCH, John, secretary of the navy, born in Halifax, North Carolina, 4 November, 1782" died in Enfield, North Carolina, 4 January, 1863. After graduation at the University of North Carolina in 1801, he studied law, became judge of the superior court, and was a state senator from 1811 till 1817, in 1822, and again in 1834. He was elected governor of his state in 1817, and from 1823 till 1829 was United States senator, resigning in the latter year, when President Jackson appointed him secretary of the navy. He held this office till 1831, when the cabinet broke up, more on account of social than political dissensions, as was commonly thought. A letter from Sec. Branch on the subject is published in Niles's "Register" (vol. xli.). Judge Branch was elected to congress as a democrat in 1831. In 1838 he was defeated as democratic candidate for governor of his state, and in 1844-'5 was governor of the territory of Florida, serving until the election of a governor under the state constitution. --His son, Lawrence O'Brien, soldier, born in Halifax County, North Carolina, 7 July, 1820; killed at Antietam, 17 September, 1862, was graduated at Princeton in 1838, studied law, and began practice at Raleigh. He was chosen to congress for three successive terms, serving from 3 December, 1855, till 3 March, 1861. After the secession of his state in May, 1861, he entered the confederate army, and became a brigadier-general in November of that year. He commanded at Newbern, North Carolina, when it was captured by Burnside, and afterward took part in several battles in that state and on the peninsula.
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