LUCIUS VIRGINIUS BASSETT
In every political battle that has been waged in Edgecombe for the past two decades, L. V. Bassett has been where the fight was thickest and hottest, a leader whom the people trusted and under whose generalship they fought with pride and confidence. The Tarboro Southerner just after the adjournment of the 1911 legislature, in which Mr. Bassett was Edgecombe’s Senator, accurately voiced the sentiment of the people of the county when it printed editorially the following: “This writer has known Lucius Bassett for more than a quarter of a century. In our early acquaintance we were with his sincerity of purpose and loyalty to his friends, a loyalty that counted not the cost. The years have only intensified that impression, and these qualities are the ones that have brought him the confidence of his fellow Senators. He, like the rest of us, makes mistakes, but they are always of the head, not of the heart.”
Lucius Virginius Bassett was born in Tarboro, N. C., March 2nd 1861, and is a son of the late W. A. and Chloe (Miller) Bassett. He read law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and located in Rocky Mount for the practice of his profession. While having been actively engaged in politics all the time, in his business and professional affairs, he has regarded the Law as a very jealous mistress and has freely given to her his full allegiance and service at all times.
Possessing in all respects the ideal legal mind, and re-inforcing [sic] this with tireless energy and his natural high sense of honor, and pride in the profound principles and great traditions of his profession, he has won a commanding position among the most eminent members of the Bar of Eastern North Carolina. He is at present Attorney for the Bank of Rocky Mount and also a prominent director of that institution, which is the oldest and most noted financial institution in the city; he is Attorney for the Rocky Mount Mills, the largest manufacturing institution in the city; Attorney for the Rocky Mount Homestead and Loan Association, the oldest concern of its class in the city; and enjoys a large and lucrative practice among people in every walk of life. He was Attorney for the Board of County Commissioners of Edgecombe for six years and surrendered this position when elected to the Senate of 1908. He was also a member of the Board of Elections for Edgecombe from its creation in 1899 until his first election to the Senate, and was Chairman of this Board during eight of the ten years he was a member.
To find the beginning of Senator Bassett’s splendid party service, one must needs go back to the year 1892, twenty years ago, when he was elected a member of the Democratic Central Executive Committee, which had in charge the campaign of that year in Edgecombe, this being the year of a magnificent Democratic victory, not only in Edgecombe, but in North Carolina and the nation, Grover Cleveland being elected President for the second time, and Elias Carr Governor of North Carolina. Ever since that time Senator Bassett has been growing in ability, usefulness and in the respect and admiration felt for him by all the people of the county and this section. During recent years, his reputation has become State-wide, as a safe and useful legislator and a sane and effective leader in the Senate of North Carolina. Elected to the Senate the first time in 1908, Mr. Bassett at once took rank as one of the really big men in that body, a man whose views were always profoundly considered, and whose opinions when expressed were always potent in the deliberations of the Chamber. Re-elected in 1910, Senator Bassett’s influence in the Senate of 1911 was an accentuation of his prominence in the previous Senate, and he was regarded as one of the most potential of the group of Democratic leaders who shaped the important legislation of the General Assembly of 1911. He was Chairman of the Democratic Caucus of the Senate and was also Chairman of the Democratic Joint Caucus of the Senate and the House, this position carrying with it the formal leadership of the legislature. It is a very unusual occurrence for any one Senator to receive the honor of both these Chairmanships. Senator Bassett was also Chairman of the Committee on the Revisal, and a member of the Judiciary Committee; of the Committee on Appropriations, and on Finance, the next two ranking Committees of the Senate; of the Committees on Counties, Cities and Towns; Legislative Appointment; Constitutional Amendments; Insurance; and of the Conference Committee on the part of the Senate to consider and adjust the differences between the two Houses as to the provisions of the Revenue and Machinery Acts. Senator Bassett was also Chairman of the Calendar Committee. This is a position of the very greatest responsibility, in that it is the province of this committee (and most of the work devolves upon the Chairman) to sift the wheat from the chaff in the last days of the legislature, when it is too late to refer the hundreds of bills awaiting passage, to the various Committees in regular order. The stamp of approval or disapproval put upon any bill by the Calendar Committee, at this stage almost invariably means the life or death of such bill. It is a splendid tribute to the great respect and regard in which Senator Bassett was held by his colleagues in the Senate, that he was made Chairman of this powerful committee; for none but the most trusted and capable leaders ever receive this honor.
The Editors of this work and the people of Rocky Mount and Edgecombe county take pride in presenting here something of the record of Edgecombe’s Senator; for the admiration the people have for his splendid ability, it is only equalled [sic] by their respect and regard for the man himself, for his clean and upright character, and for the fidelity and efficiency with which he has met every trust that has ever been reposed in him, and has discharged every civic duty that has ever developed upon him.
Senator Bassett is an influential member of the Masonic Fraternity, and an active force in local Sunday School work, performing dilligently and faithfully, the full duties of true manhood and fine citizenship. His forceful personality is enlisted in favor of every proper cause, as it is given him to see it.
Transcription from the book, Industrial Edition of the Rocky Mount Record, published in 1906, pages 121-123, found on the website, Internet Archive (http://archive.org), accessed 26 March 2021.