Below is a brief synopsis of the life of Willis “Congress” Alston. For more extensive information, please refer to Timothy J. Williams’ research paper, “REPUBLICAN IDEOLOGY IN THE LIFE AND POLITICS OF WILLIS “CONGRESS” ALSTON, 1769-1837″. This research paper is located on the Reference page.
Willis “Congress” Alston, the son of Captain John Alston and Ann Hunt Macon and a grandfather of Missouri Alston Pleasants, was born in 1769.
As a seven year old, he had an opportunity to sense the political atmosphere of both the April 1776 Provincial Congress in Halifax that authorized the NC delegation in Philadelphia to vote for independence, which was the first official colonial call for separation from England, and the November 1776 Provincial Congress that adopted the first NC state constitution, which continued in effect until revised in 1836.
In 1790, at age 21, he was elected to the NC House of Commons in which he served three terms followed by three terms in the State Senate. Alston was elected to the Fifth Congress, then meeting in Philadelphia, in 1798, and, thereafter, defended his Congressional seat in a nationally important election of 1803 against William R. Davie.
Alston was a strong supporter of the Jefferson and Madison administrations, even when that went against the policies advocated by his Uncle, Nathaniel Macon.
Alston and his first wife, Pattie Moore, had no children and after her death, in 1816 or early 1817, he, in 1817, married Sallie Madeline Potts. Alston had retired from the Congress in 1816 but, in 1820, returned to the NC House of Commons where he was instrumental in investigating the official conduct of the State Treasurer.
He returned to the Congress from 1825 to 1831, when he was a supporter of the Jackson Administration during the President’s first term. In 1831, Alston retired again to his family plantation, Butterwood, where he died on April 10, 1837.