Bland was born in October 1848, the son of Frederick Bland and Nancy Yates Bland. He was born a slave, probably in Dinwiddie County. After the American Civil War (1861–1865) the family resided in Petersburg, where his father was a shoemaker and a preacher, although apparently never the pastor of his own church. Bland learned the shoemaker's trade working with his father and probably also attended one of the local night schools organized by northerners for blacks. On December 18, 1872, he married Nancy Jones, of Petersburg. Their nine children included two sons and four daughters who survived him.
The Readjusters in Prince George organized on October 9 without naming their own candidate to represent Prince George and Surry counties in the House of Delegates. Instead, they threw their support to Bland, the Republican candidate. Meanwhile the Funders unsuccessfully tried to nominate several men before Robert E. Bland, the white incumbent, finally agreed to run less than a week before the election.
On October 17, 1879, E. D. Bland joined Mahone and others on the speaker's platform at a Readjuster barbecue in Prince George County. Three days later county Republicans, disgruntled by Bland's Readjuster apostasy, called for his removal as the party's nominee. Bland marshaled his supporters for the meeting that ensued at the courthouse on October 29. Amid so much confusion and crowding that a voice vote could not be taken, everyone went outside to line up for or against Bland. So many men went to his side that his opponents did not bother to form ranks.
Bland and the other ten African American Republicans elected to the House of Delegates in 1879 held the balance of power between the Funders and Readjusters. Their votes gave the Readjusters control of the legislature and sent Mahone to the U.S. Senate, but the coalition remained shaky. White Readjusters failed to back measures that the blacks introduced, and they, in turn, remained loyal to the national Republican Party. Bland served on the Committees on Executive Expenditures and on Schools and Colleges.
Bland continued to live in Prince George County and moved from City Point to a farm about the turn of the century. He suffered from chronic nephritis during his last years and died on February 13, 1927. Because the local church had recently burned, his large funeral took place at Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg, and he was buried at Providence Cemetery, since renamed People's Memorial Cemetery, in that city. A housing project in Hopewell, opened in December 1954, was named the Edward D. Bland Courts in his memory.
October 1848 - Edward David Bland is born enslaved, probably in Dinwiddie County, the son of Frederick Bland and Nancy Yates Bland.
December 18, 1872 - Edward David Bland marries Nancy Jones, of Petersburg.
November 1879 - Edward David Bland, a Republican, defeats the incumbent, Robert E. Bland, to represent Prince George and Surry counties in the House of Delegates.
1880 - Edward David Bland serves as a delegate to the Virginia Republican Party convention and supports the party's national candidates rather than William Mahone's slate of uncommitted electors.
November 1881 - Edward David Bland wins reelection the House of Delegates representing Prince George and Surry counties. His is part of the Readjuster Party coalition.
November 1883 - Edward David Bland wins election to a third term in the House of Delegates representing Prince George and Surry counties.
September 30, 1885 - Edward David Bland, Republican member of the House of Delegates from Prince George and Surry counties, complains to William Mahone about the inaction of Republicans in a neighboring district, contrasting it with his own well-organized district.
September 6, 1887 - Edward David Bland requests William Mahone's support in his run for a fourth term as a member of the House of Delegates representing Prince George and Surry counties. Mahone prefers another man, Goodman Brown, of Surry County, and Bland does not run.
February 13, 1927 - Edward David Bland dies on his farm in Prince George County. He is buried at Providence Cemetery (later People's Memorial Cemetery).
December 1954 - A housing project in Hopewell opens and is named Edward D. Bland Courts in honor of Edward David Bland, an African American member of the House of Delegates after the Civil War.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Kneebone, J. T., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Edward David Bland (1848–1927). (2013, July 18). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Bland_Edward_David_1848-1927.
- MLA Citation:
Kneebone, John T. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Edward David Bland (1848–1927)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 18 Jul. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: June 17, 2013 | Last modified: July 18, 2013