Dan Hugh McLean

The Scotch are natural lovers of stirring times; they are born fighters, both for their rights and the liberties of other people, and if they cannot be in the fray on the physical field of battle they are quite apt to seek the arena of politics and public conflicts. These remarks hold especially good as applied to the careers of the McLeans of Harnett County, North Carolina-Col. Dan H. and his father, Gen. A. D. McLean.

Before the Civil war General McLean was a noted educator, as well as a brigadier general of state militia. He was born near Lillington, Harnett County, and for years conducted a preparatory school for boys at Summerville, his home being about 2 miles west of that village. He prepared boys for college, and at his institution many young men who afterward became prominent citizens received their schooling. During the war he held various civil offices under the Confederacy, and was a member of the legislature while Vance was governor. In 1880 he was a member of the State Senate, and died in 1882, at the age of seventy-five. Of pure Scotch ancestry, he is said to have been descended from ancestors who came to North Carolina after the battle of Culloden, in 1746, by which the Scotch Jacobites, or supporters of the Stuarts, met a crushing defeat. Many of them immigrated to the American colonies at that time.

Dan Hugh McLean was born at Summerville, near Lillington, in 1847, and attended his father's noted school. He was only fourteen at the outbreak of the War Between the States, and enlisted in the first company that went out from Harnett County, being attached to the Fifth North Carolina Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Colonel McKenney. So far as the records show, he was the youngest soldier to be actively engaged in the Confederate service. His first battle was at Yorktown, under General Magruder and Bell, and not long afterward he was assigned to a battery of artillery in Virginia under Colonel Poe. The youth served throughout the war in the army of Northern Virginia, and was in the battles of Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Petersburg Crater and the final surrender of Appomattox. He acquitted himself with valor and with so much judgment that he became adjutant of his company. As a tribute to these qualities in one so young he has always been called colonel.

On account of the devastation that came with war and the disarrangement of all family and individual plans following it, Colonel McLean received no further education from regular institutions of learning, but he has always been a close reader and a sound thinker, and his speech and manner carries with them an air of scholarly depth and distinction. His life-long association with able men has also brought him an ease of bearing and a broad and ready fund of information with which mere contact with books and colleges would never have endowed him. Finally, his legal education has given him the intellectual and methodical training to solidify his other gifts.

Colonel McLean studied law under the late William B. Wright, a leading attorney of Fayetteville, and was licensed to practice at Lillington, the county seat of Harnett County, in 1876. Since that year he has practiced constantly and successfully, and has also taken part in every campaign as an able and aggressive democrat. Nothing pleases him better than to have the odds against him; for then he can prove the temper of his metal. Since the reconstruction period he had fought in many sensational contests, and the part he has taken in them would make highly interesting reading. His first political office was held in 1876, when he was a member of the Legislature. He was also elected in 1898, being one of those who brought North Carolina back into the democratic told after the Populist-Fusion uprising If the early 1909. In 1916 he was nominated by his party for state senator, his district comprising Harnett, Sampson and Johnston counties.  His district was hopelessly Republican, and he did not expect an election, but he had the satisfaction of reducing the Republican majority from 1,250 to less than 200, and of redeeming his own county to the democracy. He has twice served as a presidential elector-in 1880 he represented his district on the Hancock ticket, and in 1900, with Hon. Lee Overman (present United States senator) he was chosen elector- at-large from North Carolina on the Bryan ticket. All the indications and the facts show that he is highly honored and greatly beloved in his hometown and county, and in the state of his nativity.

Colonel McLean married Miss Mary McDougald, daughter of Neil McDougald and granddaughter of Rev. Allen McDougald; the last named a native of Scotland who came to North Carolina and became one of the noted Presbyterian divines of the state. In early years of his ministry, when there were still many of the Scotch settlers who spoke Gaelic, it was his custom to preach first a sermon in English and then a discourse in Gaelic.

The Colonel and Mrs. McLean have two sons and two daughters. One of their sons, A. M. McLean, is a graduate of Wake Forest Law School, a young lawyer of prominence, and associated with his father in practice. John Tyler McLean is editor of the Age-Herald, the leading paper of Birmingham, Alabama. Another son, Dan Hugh, Jr., died in 1915, aged twenty-three. He was a young man of beautiful character, enjoying the esteem of all who knew him.

--North Carolina:  Rebuilding An Ancient Commonwealth, compiled published by the American Historical Society, Inc., 1928.