Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BURKE, Thomas, governor of North Carolina, born in Ireland about 1747 ; died in Hillsborough, North Carolina, 2 December, 1783. He left Ireland about 1764, and lived for some years in Accomac County, Virginia, engaged in the study and practice of medicine. He next studied law, began practice in Norfolk, and in 1774 removed to Hillsborough, North Carolina Of a bold and impetuous temper, a ready writer and speaker, he became one of the leading spirits in the revolutionary contest. While he was in Virginia, his writings in opposition to the stamp-act had brought him into notice: and he had a large share in the formation of the constitution of North Carolina. He was a member of the provincial congress at Halifax in 1776, and a volunteer at the battle of Brandywine. fie was a member of congress from December, 1776, until 1781, when he was chosen first governor of North Carolina under the new constitution. In September of that year he was surprised and seized by the Tories, and retained at James island, South Carolina, as a prisoner on parole. Obnoxious to the Tories from his previous course, he was in daily apprehension of assassination, to escape which, after endeavoring unsuccessfully to obtain an exchange or a parole to some other state, he effected his escape in the night of 16 January, 1782, after an imprisonment of four months. In a letter to General Leslie, Burke gave his reasons for withdrawing, and said that he still considered himself~ subject to the disposal of the British authorities. He was regularly exchanged soon afterward, and resumed his duties as governor, but was defeated the following year, when a candidate for re-election, it being urged that he had violated his parole.
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