Author: Scott Hampton Harris


Alexander H. H. Stuart (1807–1891)

Alexander H. H. Stuart was a member of the House of Delegates (1836–1839, 1873–1877) and the U.S. House of Representatives (1841–1843), secretary of the interior in the administration of Millard Fillmore (1850–1853), a member of the Senate of Virginia (1857–1861) and the Convention of 1861, and a principal member of the Committee of Nine, which negotiated with the federal government for an end to Reconstruction in Virginia in 1869. Born in Staunton, he studied law at the University of Virginia before going into politics. In the General Assembly and then Congress, Stuart was a typical Whig in his support of internal improvements and his moderation on the issue of slavery. After John Brown‘s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, he helped pen a government report condemning Northern abolitionist agitation. Stuart voted against secession in 1861 but signed the Ordinance of Secession. Stuart did not serve in government or the military during the American Civil War (1861–1865), but in 1867, amidst controversy over a new state constitution, he helped to form the Conservative Party. He and eight other men, the so-called Committee of Nine, successfully negotiated a plan with the federal government to present an acceptable constitution to Virginia voters and so end Reconstruction in the state. He also served as rector of the University of Virginia (1876–1882, 1886­–1887) and president of the Virginia Historical Society (1881–1891). He died in 1891.


John Brown Baldwin (1820–1873)

John Brown Baldwin was an attorney, member of the Virginia Convention of 1861, member of the Confederate House of Representatives (1861–1865), and Speaker of the House of Delegates (1865–1867). After attending the University of Virginia, Baldwin studied law in his native Staunton and became politically active on behalf of his law partner and brother-in-law Alexander H. H. Stuart, a Whig Party candidate for presidential elector in 1844. Baldwin served a term in the House of Delegates and, during the secession crisis of 1860–1861, was a staunch Unionist who, as a delegate to the secession convention, voted against leaving the Union, even meeting privately with U.S. president Abraham Lincoln in an attempt to find a compromise. After a brief stint in the Confederate army at the beginning of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he served in the Confederate Congress. After the war, he was a Conservative Party leader and, as Speaker of the House of Delegates, became such an expert on parliamentary law that the rules of the House became known as Baldwin’s Rules. He was a moderate who supported limits on the rights of African Americans and, in 1869, as a member of the so-called Committee of Nine, met with U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant to negotiate the end of Reconstruction in Virginia. He died in 1873.