James Iredell, one of the first U.S. Supreme Court justices, and father of the state's 23rd governor, was a prolific letter writer.

His scrawled communications to family, friends and 18th-century colleagues offer a rich and textured glimpse of the infancy of this country and state. The words of the political essayist and ardent Federalist once were transported by horseback over a land he would help shape. They are at the root of a legal battle in Wake County Superior Court.

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