He was the great-great-great-grandson of General Hugh Waddell, and great-grandson of both Brigadier General Francis Nash and U. S. Supreme Court Justice Alfred Moore. Born in Hillsboro, North Carolina, Waddell attended Bingham’s School and Caldwell Institute before enrolling in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1853. He was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1855.
In 1856, he supported the American Party and opposed secession in the years leading up to the Civil War. A delegate to the Constitutional Union National Convention in Baltimore in 1860, Waddell entered the newspaper business in North Carolina; he edited the Wilmington Daily Herald in 1860 and 1861. He fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Third Cavalry, Forty-first North Carolina Regiment.
In 1870, Waddell was elected to the 42nd United States Congress; he was re-elected three times, serving as the chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads during his final term in Congress. He was defeated for re-election by Daniel L. Russell in 1878 and returned to law and the newspaper business in North Carolina, serving as editor of the Charlotte Journal-Observer in 1881 and 1882. Waddell remained active in politics and was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1880 and 1896.
In 1898, he helped engineer the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 and was "elected" mayor of Wilmington by the new city council after the coup d'état forced the resignation of Republican Mayor Silas P. Wright and other members of the city government. Waddell went on to serve as mayor until 1905. He died in Wilmington in 1912.
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
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