Author: Jennifer R. Loux

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Evans, William D. (ca. 1831–1900)

William D. Evans represented Prince Edward County in the House of Delegates for two terms (1877–1880). Born free, he apprenticed as a housepainter and worked as a servant during the American Civil War (1861–1865). He sat on Farmville‘s town council in 1873 and 1874, one of several local offices he held during his political career. In 1877, despite a new poll tax that greatly limited the number of African American candidates, he won a seat in the assembly. Evans prevailed again two years later and during his second term he joined the ReadjusterRepublican alliance that controlled the General Assembly from 1879 to 1883 and refinanced the state debt. He worked as a painter and interior decorator in Washington, D.C., and as a constable in Farmville until his death in 1900.

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Dyer, Carrie Victoria (1839–1921)

Carrie Victoria Dyer was a key founder of Hartshorn Memorial College, an African American Baptist women’s college in Richmond that later merged with Virginia Union University. Dyer, who spent her early years in Michigan and Vermont, initially taught black students in Providence, Rhode Island, and Nashville. She and Hartshorn co-founder Lyman Beecher Tefft believed female students were better served by single-sex education, which led to the establishment of the new institution. The college opened in 1883 with Dyer as principal and second in command to Tefft, who served as its president. Dyer also acted as an instructor and spent twenty-nine years as the treasurer of the Rachel Hartshorn Education and Missionary Society. She took over Hartshorn’s day-to-day operations for the 1905–1906 term while Tefft was ill. Dyer became dean in 1912 and served for two academic years before she gave up the position to teach one final session. In 1926 money bequeathed by Dyer’s estate to the Woman’s National Baptist Convention Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., was used to establish the Carrie V. Dyer Memorial Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.

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Dawson, Thomas (1715–1760)

Thomas Dawson was an Anglican priest, rector of Bruton Parish (1743–1759), commissary of the bishop of London (1752–1759), member of the governor’s Council (1753–1760), and president of the College of William and Mary (1755–1760). Born in England, Dawson traveled to Virginia in 1735 and attended the College of William and Mary, where he studied and worked. He was ordained as a deacon and priest of the Church of England by the bishop of Carlisle in 1740 and served as rector of the Bruton Parish Church. He was named commissary of the bishop of London on September 21, 1752, and was appointed to the governor’s Council in 1753. In 1755 Dawson became president of the College of William and Mary. His popularity among Virginia clergymen declined in the 1750s when he neglected to formally protest the Two Penny Acts; his tenure as president of William and Mary was tainted by a power struggle between the faculty, composed of clergymen, and the board of visitors, composed of laypeople. However, Dawson remained an advocate for the education of children and African Americans throughout his life. At the end of his life, Dawson became dependent on alcohol, and in 1760 the board of visitors accused him of habitual drunkenness, infrequent attendance at college prayers, and gambling. Dawson died shortly thereafter, on November 29, 1760.

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Dawson, John M. (1829–1913)

John M. Dawson served a term in the Senate of Virginia (1874–1877) and was pastor of Williamsburg’s First Baptist Church for more than forty-five years. After escaping from slavery in his early years. Dawson served in the Union artillery during the American Civil War (1861–1865). He took over First Baptist Church in 1866 and soon became a leader in regional Baptist associations. In 1873 Dawson won a seat in the Senate of Virginia representing the district comprised of Charles City, Elizabeth City, James City, Warwick, and York counties. He did not seek reelection. Dawson opposed the Readjuster Party, a biracial coalition that dominated Virginia politics between 1879 and 1883. He finished a distant third when he ran for a congressional seat in 1882 and lost another bid for the state senate the following year. Dawson presided over First Baptist Church until 1912, when parishioners forced his retirement due to old age. He died in 1913 in Williamsburg.

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Cocke, John Hartwell (1780–1866)

John Hartwell Cocke was a farmer whose plantation, Bremo, in Fluvanna County, was both architecturally and scientifically innovative. He also was a reformer who advocated temperance, the end of tobacco production in central Virginia, and the colonization of the state’s slaves. Closely involved with the founding of the University of Virginia, he served on the school’s board of visitors from 1819 until 1856. Born in Surry County, Cocke inherited Bremo and moved to the estate in 1809. There he worked out new methods of scientific farming and helped to found the Agricultural Society of Albemarle. He designed, or helped to design, various parts of Bremo, as well as buildings elsewhere in Fluvanna County. After the death of his first wife in 1816, Cocke embraced evangelical Christianity, which informed his work on behalf of temperance causes—he served as president of state and national temperance unions—and against the cultivation of tobacco. Despite owning slaves himself, he thought slavery to be against God’s will and argued that removing African Americans to Africa was the best solution to the institution’s various evils. Cocke’s opposition to abolitionism and his support of the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861–1865) caused his views to become pro-slavery over time. He died at Bremo in 1866.

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Dew, Thomas R. (1802–1846)

Thomas R. Dew spent a decade as president of the College of William and Mary (1836–1846), but is also known for his works supporting slavery and opposing protective tariffs. While a professor of political law at William and Mary, Dew achieved national prominence when he attacked the tariff of 1828. He backed free trade, believing export taxes hindered southern planters at the expense of northern manufacturers. He favored state banks over a national bank, fearing that the latter would provide the government with too much power over the economy. His commentary on Virginia’s debate to end slavery in 1831–1832 showed him an ardent supporter of the institution, even opposing gradual emancipation because it would deprive the state of its wealth. Dew also argued that denying suffrage to women was appropriate because devotion to family hindered their capacity to understand politics. William and Mary’s board named him its president in 1836. During his administration the college became an important wellspring of southern thought as sectional tension heightened. Dew died of bronchitis in 1846.

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