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Robert Brodnax Glenn (1854-1909)

Robert Brodnax Glenn was born near Sauratown in Rockingham County on August 11, 1854, to tobacco farmer and lawyer, Chalmers Glenn and his wife Annie. Robert Glenn attended Davidson College, which he graduated from in 1874. Glenn continued his education by studying law at the University of Virginia for one year before transferring and finishing up at Richmond Pearson’s law school. In 1878, Glenn married Nina Deaderick and they had two children: Chalmers and Rebecca.

Robert Glenn moved to Stokes County and was elected to a single term in the state house in 1880. Glenn then served as a presidential elector for Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892 before becoming the U.S. attorney for the western district of N.C. in 1893. Glenn’s tenure as attorney general coincided with Charles Aycock, who was serving in the east district. Like Aycock, Glenn championed the agenda of white supremacist to disfranchise black votes during his service in the state senate from 1899-1900.

In 1904, Glenn won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and defeated the Republican, C.J. Harris by a wide margin. As governor Glenn was most notably known for his strong opposition to alcohol and it was largely due to his influence in 1908 that North Carolina approved prohibition.

Although Glenn was known primarily as the “prohibition governor,” under his watch the state’s construction bonds were paid off, lynching was eliminated, and he sought increased funds for public health.

Upon leaving the office of the governor in 1909, Glenn returned to his legal practice in Winston-Salem. In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, who had attended Davidson College with Glenn, appointed him to serve on the International Boundary Commission. Governor Robert Glenn died in 1920 and was buried in Salem Cemetery.


Davidson Encyclopedia, Governors, Robert Broadnax Glenn class of 1875, (last accessed January 21, 2011);  Michael Hill, ed., The Governors of North Carolina (Raleigh, 2007); Office of the Governor, Governors of North Carolina, Robert Glenn, (accessed January 21, 2011).

By Kellie Slappey, North Carolina History Project

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Timeline: 1836-1865 , 1866-1915

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