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Nethaniel Jones House

  • 3017 Wake Forest Road Raleigh, NC 27609

The NATHANIEL JONES HOUSE is where the discovered diary of Mrs. Nancy Anne Jones, widow of Nathaniel Jones, describes a historical incident of which several differing accounts have been given. The mistress of this house on the old Durham Highway, main thoroughfare of the central section of the State, was ac- customed to having distinguished guests. Many travelers between Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill stopped here, always certain of a hospitable welcome and the famous Jones mint julep. Statesmen, scholars, and soldiers were among her guests; by accident, however, according to the story, one hot summer day in 1838 found the household somewhat unprepared for guests.The arrivals were Governor Edward B. Dudley of North Carolina and his colleague, Pierce Mason Butler of South Carolina. They were led into the parlor and, after some delay, presented with tall frosted glasses of julep topped with mint. For some reason there was a long delay before the second round arrived and, while members of the household were absent, the maid, Lany, heard the Governor of North Carolina say, "It's a damned long time between drinks," and his companion echo, "Damn long!" The scandalized maid hurried off to report this to her mistress and the house- hold was thrown into consternation by this seeming reflection on its hospitality. In spite of their efforts to keep the scandal secret, the story leaked out and today the North Carolina Governor's remark is hoary American folklore. Another version of the origin of the remark has been handed down in the family ofJohn Motley Morehead, Minister to Sweden during the Hoover admin- istration. Morehead's grandfather was Governor of North Carolina in the early 1840's, when a political offender a white man, not a Negro, as some versions give it escaped from South Carolina, seeking refuge hi the State to the north. Governor J. H. Hammond, a Democrat, asked through the usual legal channels for the man's return. Governor Morehead, a Whig, refused extradition, in part because of the intercession of influential friends of the fugitive. After much futile correspondence the two officials agreed to meet with their staffs and legal advisers for a personal conference. The place chosen was on the common State Line, not far from Charlotte, N.G. During the discussion Gov- ernor Hammond became much excited and finally announced that further re- fusal on the part of North Carolina would result in his sending a military force across the border to seize the fugitive. "Now, sir," shouted the Governor of South Carolina, crashing his fist upon the table, "what is your answer?" "My reply, sir," answered the Governor of North Carolina with great de- liberation, "is this: It's a damned long time between drinks." This unexpected answer had the effect of relieving the tension of the situation, even though it did not immediately settle the dispute. In the atmosphere of tol- erance that was created the two Governors were able to talk dispassionately and eventually to reach a settlement satisfactory to both States.