Author: Craig Moore


Edward Echols (1849–1914)

Edward Echols served a term as lieutenant governor (1892–1902) and represented the Staunton area in the General Assembly (1883–1897, 1906–1914). The son and nephew of members of the Convention of 1861, Echols entered the House of Delegates as the Democratic Party‘s nearly century-long hegemony over Virginia politics began. As lieutenant governor he presided over the Senate of Virginia when the General Assembly passed legislation calling for a referendum on a new state constitutional convention that ultimately slashed the voting rights of African Americans. Elected to the Senate of Virginia after his term, he helped forge a compromise that allowed the 1914 referendum that brought statewide Prohibition to the state.


Raphael M. Conn (1805–1887)

Raphael M. Conn voted twice for secession at the Convention of 1861. Conn lived near the town of Mount Jackson in Shenandoah County and held a series of local offices, including militia officer, justice of the peace, and sheriff. He represented the county in the House of Delegates from 1838 to 1841. A secessionist, Conn was elected by a large majority as one of his county’s representatives to the convention called to consider Virginia’s course of action during the secession crisis. He was one of only fifteen delegates representing constituencies west of the Blue Ridge Mountains who voted in favor of secession when the first vote failed on April 4. He voted for session again on April 17, when the measure passed the convention. Conn commanded the 43rd Virginia, a regiment of volunteers, early in the American Civil War (1861–1865) and served as the county clerk from 1863 to 1865. He died in Warren County in 1887.


Edward R. Chambers (1795–1872)

Edward R. Chambers served in the Convention of 1850–1851 and parts of the Convention of 1861. Chambers settled in Mecklenburg County, where he established his law practice. He won election to the Convention of 1850–1851, which created a new constitution that established universal white-male suffrage and provided for a popularly elected governor. During the proceedings he called for a committee to look into the removal of all free people of color from Virginia. This ultimately led to Article IV, Section 19 of the constitution, which continued an 1806 law mandating that free Blacks leave the state within twelve months. In 1861 Mecklenburg County voters elected him to fill an unexpired term in the convention that had already passed the Ordinance of Secession leading to the American Civil War (1861–1865), which he signed. Chambers received his postwar pardon in July 1865. Two months later Governor Francis H. Pierpont appointed him a circuit court judge, but he was removed in 1869 in compliance with a congressional resolution ordering the replacement of Virginia’s civil officeholders who had supported the Confederacy. He returned to the practice of law, became a commonwealth attorney, and died in his home at Boydton.