[This article was updated Feb. 1 to include a legal response from Rep. Cawthorn’s campaign.]
To former Army Gen. Joseph C. Abbott, a candidate seeking to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Capitol, his opponent was both unworthy to hold the office and disqualified by law. Never mind, Abbott said, that his opponent from western North Carolina had voter support and powerful political backing; the man had aided “an insurrection” and violated a sacred oath to “support the Constitution.”
The election that concerned Abbott was in 1870. His opponent was an unrepentant former Confederate colonel, an Asheville native whose name and legacy looms large in local and North Carolina history:
Zebulon Baird Vance.
Those charges from a century and a half ago are echoed in a pending challenge by 11 North Carolina Republican voters alleging that Rep.