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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 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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Carolina Political Union

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, June 2023.

UNC-CH professor Edward James Woodhouse, 1936. Image from Digital NC.The Carolina Political Union (CPU) was formed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spring of 1935 to carry out an idea formulated by Floyd Fletcher, a senior from Raleigh, and other students in Professor E. J. Woodhouse's political science class. This nonpartisan student organization, whose first faculty adviser was Woodhouse, sought to encourage the development of greater student reasoning and investigation into politics and government by placing emphasis on open forums following speeches and on small discussion groups either before or after speakers' visits. The CPU stressed cooperation with similar university organizations, such as the Young Democrats and Young Republicans, both clubs that it founded.

The CPU was not intimidated by controversy, as is evident by the speakers it brought to Chapel Hill. These speakers included Earl Browder, leader of the Communist Party; Hiram W. Evans, Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan; Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy (then congressman); Norman Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party; Edwin S. Smith of the National Labor Relations Board; and many other prominent political and social leaders. The C.P.U. was eventually superceded by the Carolina Forum in the late 1950s and disappeared. The Carolina Political Union was resurrected and re-organized in 1965 for a second run, lasting until about 1970.


William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (3rd ed., 1992).

"Kennedy Will Speak At UNC On Thursday." The Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC). March 25, 1947. Accessed June 16, 2023 at

Additional Resources:

"Carolina Political Union." Yackety Yack. Charlotte, N.C.: Lassiter Press, Inc. 1937. p.201. (accessed October 16, 2012).

"Heard and Seen Around the Well: Another Organization." The Alumni Review. March 1935. p. 177. (accessed October 16, 2012).

Thomas, Neil, editor. "Carolina Political Union is Re-Organized." Yackety Yack. Charlotte, N.C.: Washburn Printing Co. 1965. p. 251. (accessed October 16, 2012).

"Brochure, 'CPU Does Not Stand for Community Party of the University.'" University Gazette. March 16, 2011. "Student organizations mirror the cultural shifts at Carolina, take on increasingly diverse roles on campus through the years."

Image Credits:

"Woodhouse." Yackety Yack. Charlotte, N.C.: Lassiter Press, Inc. 1936. p.188. (accessed October 16, 2012).