Gov Vance spoke here Friday morning April 22d. He arrived Thursday evening about 8 o’clock having traveled through the country in his buggy. The Mayor and committee of Arrangements met him near the limits of the town & escorted him to the Fayetteville Hotel where a large crowd had gathered who welcomed him with cheers. The Mayor made a little speech welcoming him to our town in the name of the citizens to which he responded briefly and excused himself on the plea of fatigue having spoken that day two or three hours in Harnett.
Friday was a holiday in our town reminding us a little of the good old times before the war. All business was suspended and crowds of ladies & gentlemen from our own & the neighboring counties thronged the streets. At 11 ½ the Governor appeared upon the stand & was introduced to about 3000 people by the Hon TC Fuller. The ladies stood in the windows and balconies of the neighboring houses or were provided with seats in the street. The masculine, Mr. Hale says, stood without weariness during the three following hours of intellectual entertainment. The lion of the day was a much younger man than I had expected to see: he appeared to be about six feet high; his hair was black & long brushed behind his ears, his eyes were dark grey sparkling with humor. He could not be called handsome & yet there was something very attractive about his face. The speech I shall not pretend to report. Without the Gov’s inevitable manner it would be spared of much of its beauty and point. He presented his competitor Mr. Holden in a most ridiculous light. I hardly think any of those who heard the speech will vote for Mr. Holden. His speech was here & there & everywhere interspersed with anecdote always exactly applicable. There were many very witty & some very eloquent things in the speech but of course like every political speech it was made to suit the crowd & consequently there were some very coarse things & he was rather inclined to be irreverent. The close of the speech was glorious. The day dawn will soon be followed by the full sun of blessed peace if the people at home would only be true to the army as the army was true to the country. He was grateful for the unammity with which the people had elected him to office & if he met with their approval next election he would endeavor to do his duty but if not he would return to the army from which he was called. In the afternoon the Gov went up to the Arsenal to review the troops. Cousin Albert, Sally & I went up. I don’t there has been such a crowd in the grounds since the day it was surrended to our forces by the Yankees. There were only five companies of Infantry and of Cavalry at the Arsenal. It must have been a pitiful sight to the Gov who had just returned from a visit to Lee’s great Army. Though to us it was quite an imposing sight, altogether I enjoyed the day finely. That evening a great deal of ladies and gentlemen called upon the Gov to pay their respected. Saturday he went up on the cars to address the people at Egypt. He returned to F that night pretty well worn out & was confined to his room all day Sunday. He started to Raleigh Monday.
Source: Malinda Ray Diary, Anna Sutton Sherman Papers, North Carolina State Archives. See also David A. Ray Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill