Hugh Cale

(Pasquotank County)

Featured Character – 1860


Hugh Cale

Courtesy of Elizabeth City State University

Hugh Cale was born as a slave in Perquimans County in 1835 and worked at Fort Hatteras and Roanoke Island during the war as a freedman. In 1867 he moved to Elizabeth City and became a merchant owning over $1000 in property. Here, he became active in politics, serving as a county commissioner and in the state legislature for four terms beginning in 1876. In 1882, he became a trustee of Zion Wesley Institute, which later became Livingstone College, and also of the North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race from 1891–1899. Though he served in the political sphere in an era that saw such setbacks as the 1896 ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson, which pronounced the constitutionality of racial segregation, Cale continued to make a stand for black people. In 1891, he introduced House Bill 383, proposing the establishment of Elizabeth City Colored Normal School to educate black teachers. Today his name is honored at Elizabeth City State University as a founding member. Cale died July 22, 1910.