The Governor Richard Caswell Memorial honors one of Kinston's most important citizens. A native of Maryland, Caswell moved to North Carolina and settled in the area eventually known as Lenoir County. In 1754 he was elected to the colonial assembly, a post he held for 17 years. While a member of the assembly, Caswell in 1762 introduced a bill establishing the town of Kingston (now Kinston).
An active member of the colonial militia, he participated in the Battle of Alamance against the Regulators in 1771. When relations between the colonies and England became strained in 1774, he was elected to the Continental Congress. During the American Revolution, Caswell resumed his military career and commanded Patriot forces at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in 1776.
It was during the war that Caswell was chosen to be North Carolina's first elected governor and headed the committee that wrote the new state's constitution. He would eventually serve six one-year terms as governor both during and after the war.
Caswell's life ended during his public service in 1789. He suffered a fatal stroke while presiding over the state senate in Fayetteville. After a funeral service there, his body (according to tradition) was returned to Kinston for burial in a family cemetery.