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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Montgomery, William

by Richard A. Shrader, 1991; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, July 2023

29 Dec. 1789–27 Nov. 1844

William Montgomery, physician, state legislator, and congressman, was born near North Buffalo Creek in northeastern Guilford County three miles from Bethel Church. One of four children of Scot-Irish parents, William and Hannah Forbus Montgomery, he studied medicine with an old German physician and received his M.D. degree from Princeton University, where he joined the school's Whig Society in 1804. Montgomery first established a medical practice in Randolph County and helped lay off the town of Liberty (incorporated in 1889). He later moved to Albright in Orange (later Alamance) County near present-day Burlington.

While practicing medicine, Montgomery found time to run for political office as a Democrat. He was elected to the North Carolina Senate for nine terms, serving from 1824 to 1827 and from 1829 to 1834. In 1835 he was one of two Orange County representatives to the state's constitutional convention. In the same year he defeated Daniel A. Barringer of Wake County for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Eighth Congressional District. Despite strong Whig sentiment in his own county, the congressman held his office until 1841, when he retired from politics.

Considered by his contemporaries to be a man of inflexible political principles and a loyal Jacksonian, Montgomery, as state senator, introduced a resolution condemning the U.S. Bank, championed a bill to give voters in each county the right to elect their own sheriff, and called for a reduction in the tariff of 1832. As a congressman he continued his opposition to high tariffs and supported the Independent Treasury Bill of 1837.

Montgomery was married twice. From his union with a Miss Gray, he had four children: William, Hugh, Patterson, and Hannah. On 24 Apr. 1814 he married his second wife, Sarah Albright, the daughter of the local postmaster, Daniel Albright. She bore him ten children: Nancy Elizabeth, Sara, Daniel A., Delilah, James Rudy, Mary Ann, Martha Harriet, Cornelia, Barbara Maria, and William Van. Both Daniel A. and William Van became physicians, and Daniel also was elected to the state legislature.

Montgomery was buried at "the Brick Church" in Albright.


William S. Hoffmann, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics (1958).

Hugh T. Lefler and Paul Wager, eds., Orange County, 1752–1952 (1953).

Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., Willie P. Mangum Papers, vols. 1–3 (1950–53).

Sallie Walker Stockard, The History of Alamance (1900). (accessed July 31, 2014).

Additional Resources:

"Montgomery, William, (1789 - 1844)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed July 31, 2014).