David Green Carr (1809–1883)

David Green Carr served as a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and the Senate of Virginia (1869–1871). He was born in Otsego County, New York, in 1809 and purchased a Dinwiddie County farm in 1853. He became active in Virginia's Republican Party after the American Civil War, and in 1867 Dinwiddie and Prince George county voters elected him as one of their two representatives to the state constitutional convention. He voted in favor of the new constitution, which included such reforms as universal manhood suffrage and the establishment of a public school system. In 1869 Carr, a member of the party's radical faction, won a seat in the state senate. He became Petersburg's collector of customs in 1870. He left the position by 1874, but he reacquired the job in 1877 and held it until his death in 1883. MORE...

 

Carr was born in Laurens, Otsego County, New York. The son of George Carr and Mary Greene Carr, he was said to be descended from Rhode Island's colonial governor Caleb Carr. His early life is undocumented, but by 1833 he had married Hannah Burnside. They had three sons and three daughters. Carr moved his family to Virginia, where in April 1853 he purchased 380 acres of farmland near the village of San Marino in Dinwiddie County. Sometime after Hannah Carr died of cancer in January 1856, Carr returned to New York, where by 1858 he had married Susan Marlette Walker, a physician's widow. By 1860 the couple was living on the farm in Dinwiddie. They had at least one daughter.

Carr became active in the Republican Party and was one of five men chosen to represent Dinwiddie County at the party's first state convention, held in Richmond on April 17 and 18, 1867. He served on the Committee on Permanent Organization. On October 22, 1867, Carr was one of two men elected to represent Dinwiddie and Prince George counties in a convention called to rewrite the state constitution. In both counties he received a scattering of white votes and overwhelming support from African Americans. In the convention he chaired the Committee on the Pardoning Powers and was ranking member of the Committee on Currency, Banking, and Insurance Companies. He seldom spoke or proposed business, but on January 4, 1868, he introduced a resolution calling for the Virginia Military Institute to be "obliterated" and stipulating that the value of the property fund public schools. Aligned with the Radical Republicans, Carr sided with the majority in the key roll-call votes including provisions for disfranchisement and test-oath clauses designed to keep some former Confederate officers and officials from voting or holding public office. On April 17, 1868, he voted in favor of the new constitution, which included such reforms as universal manhood suffrage, the establishment of a public school system, and popular election in a greater number of local offices. In July 1869 Virginians approved the constitution but rejected the controversial disabling clauses.

In June 1869 military authorities announced Carr's appointment to the Dinwiddie County board of election registrars. Carr again ran for office and easily outdistanced his opponent to represent Dinwiddie, Greensville, and Sussex counties in the Senate of Virginia from October 1869 to March 1871. The Petersburg Index reported with displeasure the election of "Previous Question" Carr, maintained that his victory derived from his "most slavish and absolute control" of the black community, and unfairly grouped him with carpetbaggers who came to the state after the Civil War. Carr served on the Committees on Federal Relations, on Finance, on Public Institutions, and on Roads and Internal Navigation.

In 1869 President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Carr to be collector of customs at the United States Custom House in Petersburg, an appointment confirmed by Congress on April 21, 1870. In January 1872 he relinquished his farm to a son and moved to Petersburg. Carr was no longer customs collector by 1874 but returned to that position after Rutherford B. Hayes became president in 1877. He remained in office until shortly before his death. Carr died of chronic gastric inflammation at his Petersburg home on April 7, 1883. Despite Carr's record as a Radical Republican, the editor of the Petersburg Daily Index-Appeal remembered him as a highly respected, courteous man with many sterling qualities. Carr was buried in Blandford Cemetery alongside his second wife, who had died on July 22, 1882, and one of his daughters.

Time Line

  • 1809 - David Green Carr is born in Laurens, Otsego County, New York, to George Carr and Mary Green Carr.
  • 1833 - By this year, David Green Carr has married Hannah Burnside. They have three sons and three daughters.
  • April 1853 - David Green Carr purchases 380 acres of farmland near the village of San Marino in Dinwiddie County. Soon after he moves his family from his native New York to Virginia.
  • January 1856 - Hannah Burnside Carr dies of cancer. Sometime after her death her husband, David Green Carr, returns from Virginia to his native New York.
  • 1858 - By this year, David Green Carr has married Susan Marlette Walker in New York. Sometime before 1860 the couple returns to Carr's farm in Dinwiddie County. They have at least one daughter.
  • October 22, 1867 - David Green Carr is elected to represent Dinwiddie and Prince George counties at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868.
  • April 17, 1868 - Delegates to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868 vote in favor of the new state constitution, which includes such reforms as universal manhood suffrage, the establishment of a public school system, and popular election in a greater number of local offices.
  • July 1869 - Virginians approve the state constitution but reject its controversial disabling clauses.
  • April 21, 1870 - The U.S. Congress confirms President Ulysses S. Grant's appointment of David Green Carr as collector of customs at the U.S. Custom House in Petersburg.
  • January 1872 - David Green Carr relinquishes his farm in Dinwiddie County to one of his sons and moves to Petersburg.
  • 1874 - David Green Carr leaves his position as customs collector in Petersburg.
  • 1877 - After Rutherford B. Hayes becomes U.S. president, David Green Carr returns to his position as collector of customs in Petersburg.
  • July 22, 1882 - Susan Marlette Walker Carr, the wife of David Green Carr, dies.
  • April 7, 1883 - David Green Carr dies of chronic gastric inflammation at his home in Petersburg. He is buried in Petersburg's Blandford Cemetery.
Further Reading
Gunter, Donald W. "Carr, David Green." In Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 3, edited by Sara B. Bearss, et al., 28–29. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006.
Hume, Richard L. "The Membership of Convention of 1867–1868: A Study of the Beginnings of Congressional Reconstruction in the Upper South" in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 86 (October 1978): 461–484.
Lowe, Richard. Republicans and Reconstruction in Virginia, 1856–70. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Gunter, D. W., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. David Green Carr (1809–1883). (2013, August 13). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Carr_David_Green_1809-1883.

  • MLA Citation:

    Gunter, Donald W. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "David Green Carr (1809–1883)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: November 5, 2012 | Last modified: August 13, 2013