Author: Gwendolyn White


William Henry Fitzhugh (1792–1830)

William Henry Fitzhugh was a philanthropist, author, orator, and a veteran of the War of 1812 who manumitted in his will the men and women he enslaved. Fitzhugh was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1811–1816, 1828–1829) and the Senate of Virginia (1819–1822) and attended the Convention of 1829–1830. He was born in Stafford County in 1792, the youngest child and only son of Ann Randolph Fitzhugh and William Fitzhugh, a patriot and member of the Continental Congress. Fitzhugh attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and received a bachelor of arts degree in 1808. He inherited his father’s extensive land holdings in Virginia when William Fitzhugh died in 1809. Although a slave owner, Fitzhugh was a strong supporter of the American Colonization Society and served as its vice president in the 1820s. He married Anna Maria Goldsborough of Maryland in 1814 and the couple resided at the Ravensworth estate in Fairfax County. Fitzhugh died unexpectedly in 1830 at the age of thirty-eight, probably of an aneurysm. His will stipulated that his enslaved workers were to be freed in 1850 and his widow honored his wishes.