Author: the Dictionary of Virginia Biography


Dillard, J. H. (1856–1940)

J. H. Dillard was an educator and reformer who, early in the twentieth century, became the best-known and most-active white proponents of improved educational opportunities for African Americans in the South. Born either in Southampton County or Nansemond County, he studied law before becoming a teacher. In 1894, he became a dean at Tulane University, in New Orleans. In 1908, he was elected president of the board of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation, established to help the education of African Americans in the South by paying teacher salaries and investing in buildings and equipment. He returned to Virginia in 1913, working for the Jeanes Fund and as the president of the John F. Slater Fund, which had a similar mission, until he resigned both positions in 1931. By this time, the South had 305 so-called Jeanes teachers in fourteen states, with Virginia claiming more teachers than any other state. Dillard engaged in other work on behalf of interracial cooperation, establishing the University Commission on Southern Race Questions in 1912. In 1930, two historically black universities in New Orleans combined to form Dillard University, named in his honor. Dillard died at his home in Charlottesville in 1940.


Conrad, Thomas Nelson (1837–1905)

Thomas Nelson Conrad was a Confederate spy during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and president of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Conrad was the head of the Georgetown Institute, a boys’ school in the District of Columbia at the start of the Civil War. An open Confederate sympathizer, he worked as a spy throughout the war, even while serving as chaplain of the 3rd Virginia Cavalry. After the war, Conrad became principal of a boys’ school in Blacksburg, and when it was absorbed into the new agricultural college, attempted to become president. He finally succeeded when the Readjusters took power in 1882, and under his leadership, the school introduced literary and scientific studies, increased spending on the library, and reorganized its military program to resemble the curriculum of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. After the Readjusters lost power, Conrad was dismissed as president in 1886. He taught in Maryland, worked for the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C., and published two memoirs of his war experiences before retiring to a farm in Prince William County. He died in 1905 in Washington.


Chilton, Samuel (1805–1867)

Samuel Chilton was a lawyer, a member of the House of Representatives (1843–1845), and a member of the Convention of 1850–1851, the purpose of which was the revision of the Virginia constitution. He is best known for sitting on a committee appointed during the convention to report on the apportionment of the General Assembly. Chilton supported calculating legislative representation on the basis of population and property holding, but proposed a key compromise with western delegates who held opposing views. His plan for apportionment passed, and on July 31, 1851, Chilton voted with the majority in favor of the final version of the state constitution. Chilton moved to Washington, D.C., by 1853, when he joined the American (Know Nothing) Party. In 1859 he and Hiram Griswold represented John Brown for the final two days of the treason trial that followed Brown’s 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. Though Chilton tried to appeal the guilty verdict, he was unsuccessful, and ultimately was forced to testify before a Senate committee about the circumstances surrounding his hiring and subsequent payment. After the trial, Chilton reportedly was offered and refused a position on Abraham Lincoln’s administration. He died in Warrenton on January 7, 1867.

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