Charles Cortez Abbott taught business at Harvard University (1923–1954) before becoming the first dean of the business school at the University of Virginia. Born in Kansas, Abbott was raised in New England and educated at Yale and Harvard. He published several books on business and finance before moving to Virginia, where he served as dean of what became known as the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration from 1954 until 1972. Abbott built the program into the one of the outstanding business schools in the South. He retired to Connecticut and died in 1986.
Robert Abrahall was a merchant who represented New Kent County in the House of Burgesses (1654–1655, 1660). Born in England to a family deeply involved in colonial commerce, he had settled in Virginia by 1646. Living in upper York County in what became New Kent and later King and Queen County, he patented more than 14,000 acres over more than three decades, making him one of the colony’s largest and most influential landowners. He served briefly as undersheriff of York County before being removed from office on the charge of forging a signature. Because records in New Kent County have been lost, little else about Abrahall’s life is known.
James Farmer was a civil rights leader who pioneered sit-in demonstrations during the 1940s and led the Freedom Riders of 1961. After graduating from Wiley College, in Texas, Farmer moved to Chicago to serve as race relations secretary for the pacifist group Fellowship of Reconciliation. Dedicated to fighting Jim Crow laws, in 1942 Farmer helped form what became the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The organization selected Farmer as its national director in 1961, bringing him to prominence. The violent reaction by southern whites to the Freedom Riders was the first in a series of confrontations and arrests for his work on behalf of African American civil rights. Farmer left CORE in 1966 and later served briefly in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Farmer moved to Spotsylvania County about 1980 and became a professor at Mary Washington College in 1985. That year his book, Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement, was published. Farmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
Lucy Johnson Barbour was the wife of Virginia governor, U.S. senator, secretary of war, and minister to Great Britain James Barbour and, after his death, a women’s leader and Whig Party activist. Born in Orange County, Barbour was her husband’s first cousin. (Her sister married James Barbour’s brother, Philip Pendleton Barbour.) For much of her adult life, Lucy Barbour cared for her family as her husband moved from Richmond, to Washington, D.C., and to London. She took an interest in her husband’s politics and strongly supported female education. Upon his death in 1842, her voice became more public. In 1844 she established a women’s group in Richmond to fund and build a statue in honor of the Whig Party’s leader, Henry Clay, of Kentucky. Such activism from a woman was seen as unusual and provoked opposition. Barbour persisted, however, and the statue was commissioned and, in 1860, finally unveiled. Her son, B. Johnson Barbour, delivered the dedicatory oration at the State Capitol on April 12. Lucy Barbour died a few months later.
John Carter was a member of the governor’s Council and the House of Burgesses. His family had familial and business connections with the Virginia Company of London, and Carter left England for Virginia during the 1630s. In 1642 he began acquiring the extensive property on the north bank of the Rappahannock River that became the family seat known as Corotoman. Carter married five times and founded one of the greatest of the colonial Virginia families. During the 1640s and 1650s Carter served in the House of Burgesses, which elected him to the governor’s Council in 1658. He was again a burgess in 1660, when Charles II was restored to the throne, and Governor Sir William Berkeley reappointed Carter, a royalist, to the Council. He remained a councillor until his death ten years later.
Clementina Rind was a public printer for Virginia and publisher from August 1773 to September 1774 of one of two Virginia Gazettes printed in Williamsburg. Born about 1740, she married the Maryland printer William Rind after 1762 and they moved to Williamsburg later in 1765 or early in 1766. There, in May 1766, William Rind established the Virginia Gazette in direct competition to a paper of the same name published by Alexander Purdie and John Dixon. He soon also became the colony’s public printer, publishing all of the government’s official documents. Rind died in 1773 and Clementina Rind took over the newspaper and won appointment to succeed her husband as public printer. She managed the business well and supplemented her income by printing other material, such as Thomas Jefferson‘s tract A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774). Although nonpartisan, her Virginia Gazette included news that suggested solidarity with the patriot cause in the years before the American Revolution (1775–1783). She died in Williamsburg in 1774.
Lewis Burwell was a planter who enlarged the already considerable estate he had inherited from his father. By 1704 he was one of the largest landowners in six counties, paying taxes on 26,650 acres. Through marriage alliances and inheritances—both of his stepfathers, his father-in-law, and a son-in-law served on the governor’s Council, and his first wife inherited her fortune from her uncle, who was a councillor—he expanded his fortune. Burwell served as a major in the militia, a trustee of the College of William and Mary, and sat for one term in the House of Burgesses. The Privy Council appointed him to the governor’s Council, but Burwell declined the position. This refusal probably sprung from his daughter‘s refusal to marry Governor Francis Nicholson, along with declining health.
Evelyn Thomas Butts was a civil rights activist and Democratic Party leader from Norfolk who helped overturn Virginia’s poll tax. Her lawsuit challenging the tax was combined with a similar action by four Fairfax County residents and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court as Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966). Butts conducted voter registration campaigns and helped establish Concerned Citizens for Political Education. The political organization achieved two key victories late in the 1960s with the election of Joseph A. Jordan as the first black city council member of the twentieth century and the election of William P. Robinson as Norfolk’s first African American member of the House of Delegates. By the end of the 1970s Butts was considered one of the region’s most important African American political leaders.
Robert Carter, also known as Robert “King” Carter, was a land baron, Speaker of the House of Burgesses (1696–1698), treasurer of the colony (1699–1705), and a member of the governor’s Council (1700–1732). As senior member of the council, he served as president, or acting governor, from 1726 until 1727. Carter, as his nickname attests, was the richest and one of the most powerful Virginians of his day. Virginia-born, he inherited land from his father and his elder half-brother and spent much of the rest of his life accumulating more, most of it part of the Northern Neck Proprietary, for which he served as Virginia agent from 1702 until 1711 and from 1722 until 1732. At the time of his death, he held at least 295,000 acres of land, as well as numerous slaves. He also served as an agent for slave traders. Appointed to the Council by Governor Francis Nicholson, Carter nevertheless opposed Nicholson’s, and later Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood‘s, policies, designed to assert royal control, sometimes at the expense of the interests of the great planters. Carter died in 1732, leaving a will that filled forty pages.
Joseph Abrams was a Baptist minister and spent most of his life enslaved in Richmond. His owner, Joshua J. Fry, freed him in 1844 and Abrams managed to gain ownership of his large family and free them, too, in 1851. He was best known as a gifted ordained preacher who served Richmond’s African Americans until it became illegal to do so after Nat Turner’s Revolt in 1831. He continued his church work, however, and became a founding member and deacon of Richmond’s First African Baptist Church. When he died, in 1854, Abrams’s funeral attracted 8,000 mourners of both races.
Cornelia Storrs Adair served as president of the National Education Association (NEA), a teachers’ union, from 1927 to 1928, the first classroom teacher to be elected to that position. A native of West Virginia, she attended school in Richmond and began her teaching career there in 1904. She taught at various elementary schools, received a degree from the College of William and Mary (1923) and served as principal of Richmond’s Franklin Elementary School from 1931 until her retirement in 1954. In 1934, Adair became the first woman awarded William and Mary’s Alumni Medallion. Adair attributed her passion for education to her aunt of the same name, one of the pioneer public school teachers in Richmond. Always active in union work, Adair was a longtime member of the Virginia Education Association and the Teachers’ Co-operative Association. In addition to presiding over the NEA, she served as president of the National League of Teachers Associations (1919) and the National League of Classroom Teachers (1927). A traditionalist in the classroom, Adair supported universal education, arts education, and education for the physically disabled. Adair died in Charlottesville in 1962. The next year William and Mary opened the Cornelia Storrs Adair Gymnasium (later Adair Hall).
Henry Cox served as a member of the House of Delegates for eight years. He was born in Powhatan County, whether free or enslaved is not certain. The 1870 census listed him as a farmer who was able to read and write. Cox represented Powhatan and Chesterfield counties in the House of Delegates beginning in 1869 and, following a redistricting of the assembly, won three more consecutive terms as the sole delegate from Powhatan County. In 1872 he was part of a multistate delegation that met with President Ulysses S. Grant to discuss federal civil rights legislation. When his fourth term ended, Cox did not seek reelection. He moved to Washington, D.C., about 1881, and last appears in public records in 1910.
Andrew Adams served as the Upper Mattaponi chief from 1974 until his death in 1985. Born in King William County, Adams attended the Sharon Indian School and served in the U.S. Army during World War II (1939–1945). He then lived in Philadelphia until 1974, when his father, chief since 1923, died. Adams was elected leader of the tribe, reformed its government, and helped obtain a charter incorporating the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribal Association. The tribe received state recognition just before Adams’s death in 1985.
John H. Adams served six years in Richmond‘s government representing Jackson Ward, two years on the city council and four years as an alderman. Adams hailed from a successful free black family, and received a bachelor’s degree from a Pennsylvania college in 1873. A plasterer by trade, he became involved with the African American religious and spiritual community. He helped his neighborhood, created as a gerrymandered constituency to limit black political power, improve its schools, streets, and lighting. Adams moved to Danville in the 1890s, but retired about 1930 and returned to Richmond, where he died at the home of a niece in 1934.
Pauline Adams was an Irish-born suffrage activist who took an extraordinarily active role in her community for a woman at that time. Born in 1874, Adams arrived in the United States during the 1890s. She married a physician in 1898 and they soon settled in Norfolk. There, she served as president of the Norfolk League, a National American Woman Suffrage Association affiliate. Her militant approach to securing suffrage alienated many other women in the area. Although she supported the United States’ entry into World War I (1914–1917) and sold War Bonds, she was arrested and jailed at the Occoquan Workhouse after waving suffrage banners in front of President Woodrow Wilson during a selective service parade. After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Adams became a lawyer and remained active in politics. She died in 1957.
Lucy Addison was a teacher and elementary school principal in Roanoke who was largely responsible for bringing high school–level education to the city’s African Americans. Born enslaved in Fauquier County, she earned a teaching diploma in Philadelphia. Addison taught briefly in Loudoun County before moving to Roanoke in 1887. She served briefly as an interim principal at the city’s First Ward Colored School before resuming her regular teaching duties. In 1918 she became principal of the Harrison School. Although the school offered classes only up to grade eight, Addison campaigned for a secondary-school curriculum, steadily adding advanced classes. The State Board of Education accredited Harrison as a high school in 1924. Addison retired from the position after the 1926–1927 school year, and the city named the school after her in 1928. It was Roanoke’s first public building named after one of its own citizens. Addison, who never married, died in 1937 in Washington, D.C.
Mary Aggie was a slave who became a principal in a court case that changed Virginia‘s statute law. Although unsuccessful in suing for her freedom in 1728, she demonstrated her belief in Christianity to the satisfaction of the presiding judge, Lieutenant Governor William Gooch. In 1730 she was convicted by the York County court of oyer and terminer of stealing from her owner, which ordinarily would have doomed her to death or severe corporal punishment. In 1731, however, Gooch had her case sent to the General Court, where he hoped she could secure the benefit of clergy, a privilege in English law dating back centuries in which literate persons could escape death or the severest penalties for first convictions on most capital offenses. Before a final verdict could be rendered, on May 6, 1731, Gooch and the governor’s Council pardoned Aggie on the condition that she would be sold out of the colony. The General Assembly referred to Aggie’s cases in passing a law on July 1, 1732, that allowed virtually all Virginians to plead benefit of clergy except in certain cases, a privilege that continued for another sixty years.
Thomas Bayne was a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and a Republican leader during Reconstruction. Bayne was born enslaved and was known as Samuel Nixon. Literate and possessing a keen intellect, he became an assistant dentist while working at his owner’s Norfolk dental practice. His relative freedom of movement allowed him to work on the Underground Railroad until he fled to Massachusetts in 1855. There he adopted Thomas Bayne as his new name and established his own dental practice in New Bedford. Returning to Norfolk by 1865, he began working for African American equal rights as a political activist and an itinerant preacher. In 1867 the city’s voters elected him as one of their delegates to the convention called to rewrite the state constitution. There he became the most powerful black leader of the Republican Party’s radical faction, arguing forcefully for integrated public schools and equal suffrage. Bayne sought a congressional seat in 1869, but a split among party candidates doomed him to defeat. He reduced his role in state politics but remained active in local elections into the 1880s.
Archibald M. Aiken was a lawyer and judge of the Danville Corporation Court who opposed desegregation. During the Danville civil rights protests of 1963 Aiken gained national notoriety after confronting the demonstrators and issuing an injunction to ban most forms of public protest in the city. He convened a special grand jury, which indicted three protest leaders for conspiring to incite “the colored population of the State to acts of violence and war against the white population.” Controversial, stubborn, and outspoken, Aiken continued to fight against integration throughout the 1960s. He died of a heart attack in 1971.
Edward M. Alfriend was a Richmond playwright and businessman. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), he served in the 44th Virginia Infantry Regiment, fought in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, but was court-martialed and cashiered from the Confederate army in 1865 for being absent without leave and disobeying orders. Following the war, he earned some distinction in his father’s insurance company and in 1871 was a delegate to the National Insurance Convention. Alfriend is best known as the author of at least fourteen plays. His work, some of which was produced in New York, was dismissed by reviewers but popular with the public. He died unexpectedly of kidney failure in 1901.
Edgar Allan was one of Virginia’s leading Republicans from 1867 until 1902. A native of England who fought with George A. Custer’s cavalry during the American Civil War (1861–1865), Allan settled in Prince Edward County as a farmer in 1865. He then taught himself law and established a Farmville practice. The region’s African American voters elected him to the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868. Though mocked as “Yankee” Allan, he spent twelve years as Prince Edward’s commonwealth’s attorney and three years in the Senate of Virginia. In 1883 he moved to Richmond, becoming a prosperous lawyer. In 1892 he helped Bettie Thomas Lewis, daughter of a former slave and a wealthy white man, claim her inheritance. Eight years later he lost a bid for Congress, and Republicans aligned with U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt took control of the state party from Allan’s group in 1902. Sickly, in pain, and emotionally devastated by the loss of political power, Allan committed suicide in 1904.
Arthur Allen became an agent for tobacco merchants in Bristol, England, and arrived in Virginia during the 1640s. He amassed one of the largest plantations in Surry County by the 1660s. There, he built a three story brick house that reflected his status as one of the county’s wealthiest men. Allen died in 1669; his house became known as Bacon’s Castle after Nathaniel Bacon‘s followers occupied it during the 1676 insurrection.
Arthur Allen was a merchant, planter, and Speaker of the House of Burgesses in colonial Virginia. Allen was a supporter of Governor Sir William Berkeley, but during Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) his residence was seized and occupied by followers of Nathanel Bacon. (Allen’s house later became known as Bacon’s Castle.) Elected to the House of Burgesses in 1682, Allen became Speaker in 1686 and ran into conflict with two of the colony’s royal governors over the scope of the governor’s powers. Following the Glorious Revolution in 1688, Allen declined to take an oath supporting the new monarchs until James II died in 1702; he thereby precluded himself from serving in public office for those years. After swearing the oaths, Allen returned to public service. He lost election to the House of Burgesses, but he did receive appointment to a number of minor positions before his death in 1710.
John Allen was a member of the House of Delegates (1796–1798) and the Council of State (1799). Allen’s family history is obscured by the fact that a number of other men of the same name living in Tidewater Virginia during his lifetime. He is likely the son of Jones Allen, who had previously owned 100 acres of land that Allen paid taxes on in 1795. In 1798, while representing James City County in the assembly, Allen voted for James Madison‘s Virginia Resolutions protesting the Alien and Sedition Acts. He won election to the Council of State in 1799 but died a few weeks later in Richmond.
Joseph Allen was an African American member of the Richmond City Council, serving one term, from 1882 to 1884. Born in Richmond the son of a bricklayer, Allen was raised free and began work in the building trade that prospered after the American Civil War (1861–1865). He resided in Jackson Ward, a Richmond political district created by conservative whites in 1871 to concentrate African Americans in a single ward and so reduce their political strength. After winning election to the council as a Republican, Allen worked on legislation to improve the conditions at the city’s all-black lunatic asylum. His run for reelection was unsuccessful and he died, probably not long after 1905.
William Allen was a planter, member of the House of Delegates (1802–1810), and businessman who, at the time of his death, owned more than 700 slaves, one of the largest numbers in the state. Born in 1768, Allen did not attend college and instead relied on what one obituary writer termed “a very shrewd mind” and “strong common sense.” As a young man he inherited much of his family’s wealth in Surry County and invested wisely in various businesses. He lived in luxury for the rest of his life. He died in 1831.
Isaac Allerton was a member of the House of Burgesses (1667; 1668–1674; 1680–1682; 1684; 1696) and a member of the governor’s Council (1687–1691). Born in Massachusetts, he settled in Virginia about 1660. He quickly amassed large landholdings and embarked upon public service. He rose quickly and steadily through the military and civil ranks; Allerton sat in the House of Burgesses for more than a decade. During Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677), he remained a staunch supporter of Governor Sir William Berkeley. Allerton was appointment to the Council in 1687, but he gave up his seat in 1691 after he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the new monarchs William and Mary. Allerton’s career was little affected; he represented Westmoreland County in the House of Burgesses in 1696 and was appointed by the governor’s Council as the naval officer and receiver of duties in Westmoreland County in 1699. He died in 1702.
James M. Ambler was a Confederate cavalryman during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and, after the war, a United States Navy surgeon. Ambler graduated from medical school in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1870 and joined the Navy, serving on various ships and at the Norfolk Naval Hospital. In 1878, he reluctantly volunteered for service with an Arctic expedition aboard the Jeannette, a ship commanded by George W. De Long. The ship became imprisoned by ice late in 1879, and Ambler did well to keep the crew not only alive but relatively healthy. Still adrift in June 1881, the Jeannette struck ice, which crushed its wooden hull. While a few of the crew’s thirty-three men survived, many froze to death, drowned, or starved, including Ambler, who died with De Long sometime around October 30, 1881.
Jaquelin Ambler was a member of the Council of State (1780–1782) and served as the treasurer of Virginia (1782–1798). Born in Yorktown, he attended the College of William and Mary and the College of Philadelphia before returning home and becoming a partner in the family’s mercantile business. He inherited much of his family’s accumulated wealth and during the American Revolution (1785–1783) served on the Virginia Navy Board and the Virginia Board of Trade. Ambler served for two years on the Council of State before the Council appointed him treasurer, a position he held until his death. As a director of public buildings he helped supervise the construction the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Ambler died in 1798.
Richard Ambler was a tobacco merchant in Yorktown. Born in York, England, he came to Virginia in 1716 with his merchant uncle and prospered. Through marriage, inheritance, and purchase he acquired land, including property in Hanover, James City, Louisa, and Warwick counties and all of Jamestown Island. Ambler also served as a justice of the peace, a vestryman, and collector of the customs in Yorktown. He died in 1766.
Jeffery Amherst was a British army general and royal governor of Virginia from 1759 until 1768. Born in Kent County, England, Amherst served as commander of British forces in North America in 1758. He captured strategic forts at Ticonderoga, Niagara, Quebec, and Montreal. For these military successes, he was rewarded with the office of governor in Virginia. He never visited Virginia, leaving the colony’s administration to the lieutenant governor, Francis Fauquier. After Fauquier’s death, the British ministry decided that the royal governor should reside in Williamsburg and no longer entrust the government of the colony to a lieutenant governor. Amherst, refusing to live in Virginia, was dismissed from office. Amherst died in Kent County in 1797.
Joseph R. Anderson was an iron manufacturer and Confederate army officer during the American Civil War (1861–1865). In 1848 he purchased the Tredegar Iron Company, the largest producer of munitions, cannon, railroad iron, steam engines, and other ordnance for the Confederate government during the Civil War. One of Anderson’s most notable decisions was to introduce slaves into skilled industrial work at the ironworks, and by 1864, more than half the workers at Tredegar were bondsmen. Anderson served as a brigadier general for the Confederate army, and fought and was wounded during the Seven Days’ Battles. He resigned his commission in the Confederate Army in 1862 to resume control of the ironworks, and after the war, Anderson was a strong proponent for peace, hoping to keep the Union army from taking possession of the ironworks. He failed, but regained control of Tredegar after he was pardoned by U.S. president Andrew Johnson in 1865. By 1873 Anderson had doubled the factory’s prewar capacity, and its labor force exceeded 1,000 men, many of them black laborers and skilled workmen who received equal pay with white workers. Though Tredegar failed to make the transition from iron to steel production late in the nineteenth century, the company survived into the 1980s. Anderson was a well-known member of the Richmond community, serving multiple terms on the Richmond City Council and in the House of Delegates before and after the war.
Peyton E. Anderson was a minister and the first African American superintendent of Prince Edward County‘s rural black schools. Born enslaved near Farmville, after the American Civil War (1861–1865) he committed himself to getting an education and studied ministry at Richmond Theological Institute. He became the superintendent of schools for African Americans in Prince Edward County, where he oversaw the construction of twenty-three rural schoolhouses and developed a curriculum centered on industrial education. For twenty-five years he was also principal of the Virso School, in Prince Edward County. One county superintendent described him as the most versatile schoolteacher he had ever seen. During his career in education, Anderson served as pastor of New Bethel and Shiloh churches, and at his death in 1950 was pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church.
William A. Anderson, who came to be known as the “Lame Lion of the Confederacy,” helped establish the Democratic Party‘s dominance in Virginia during and after the Reconstruction period. Wounded during the American Civil War (1861–1865), he was nominated to the House of Delegates in 1868 as a member of the Conservative Party, which sought to bring back the state’s pre-war power structure. In 1883 Anderson was elected to the House of Delegates as a member of the Democratic Party (the successor of the Conservative Party). He helped cement Democratic control over Virginia by engineering the party’s acceptance of the Readjusters’ successful debt reduction policy and by co-sponsoring a law that gave control of elections to Democrats. In 1900 Anderson became head of the Virginia State Bar Association, and his presidential speech became the basis for the provisions in the Constitution of 1902 that disfranchised African American and poor white voters. (Anderson was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902.) He served as attorney general of Virginia from 1902 to 1910 and in the House of Delegates from 1918 to 1919. Anderson died at his home in Lynchburg in 1930.
C. W. Andrews was an Episcopal minister and reformer who was active in the American Colonization Society. Born and educated in Vermont, he moved to Virginia for his health and there fell under the influence of William Meade, an evangelical minister and his wife’s uncle. Andrews was ordained in 1832 and soon after became involved in the movement to gradually emancipate enslaved men, women, and children in Virginia and send them to the colony of Liberia in western Africa. He also preached against dancing, the theater, and tobacco. In 1842 Andrews became rector of Trinity Church in Shepherdstown, in what later became West Virginia, and as the American Civil War (1861–1865) threatened he opposed secession but remained loyal to Virginia when it joined the Confederacy. Skeptical of immigration, he believed that the North had become overrun with foreigners. Andrews continued to preach after the war and authored a number of sermons, essays, and books. He died in 1875.
William H. Andrews was a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and served in the House of Delegates (1870–1871). Little is known about him, although his appearances in the public record indicates a troubled man who struggled with alcoholism. Andrews won his seat in the convention called to rewrite Virginia’s state constitution in a racially polarized vote. Although he served quietly during the convention and generally voted with the Radical Republicans, for unexplained reasons he became the only African American delegate to vote against the new constitution. He narrowly won election to the House of Delegates from Surry County in 1869, but he acted erratically during his term. He was arrested multiple times, accused of whipping a page, and charged with bribery. He served out his term despite several attempts to expel him from the House. Andrews disappeared from public records after his term.
Sir Edmund Andros served as governor of Virginia from 1692 until 1698. Born in London, Andros enjoyed ties to the family of Charles II, served in the army, was appointed governor of New York by the future James II in 1674 and in 1686 of the Dominion of New England. His stay in New England was unpopular enough that he ended up imprisoned before returning to England. During the Glorious Revolution (1688) he supported William of Orange, who appointed him governor of Virginia with the hopes that he would aid New York during King William’s War (1689–1697) and raise the salaries of the Anglican clergy. Andros’s efforts were hindered by the war’s effect on the tobacco trade; when prices fell, so did the salaries of clergymen, who were paid in the crop. Forced to battle with the clergymen’s leader, James Blair, Andros raised salaries some but not enough. In the meantime, he subtly extended royal power in Virginia, tying the colony’s laws closer to England’s. Just staying in power despite a host of political enemies, Andros left office due to poor health, leaving Virginia in 1699. He served as lieutenant governor of Guernsey before dying in England sometime around 1714.
Edinboro Archer served on the common council, one of two boards of the Richmond City Council, from 1882 until 1888. Born enslaved, he learned carpentry and eventually became a wheelwright. He settled in Jackson Ward, the famous political district in Richmond created by conservative whites in 1871 to concentrate the African American population in one location. This gerrymandering mitigated blacks’ political strength by reducing the overall impact of their votes in city elections. Between 1871 and 1898 thirty-three African Americans represented Jackson Ward in the city government. In 1882 Archer won the first of three elections to the council. During his tenure he served on important committees and fought to gain needed improvements for Jackson Ward, such as a city park. After leaving office, Archer continued as a wheelwright and then worked at Evergreen Cemetery. He died in 1907.
Fletcher H. Archer was a Confederate army officer and Petersburg mayor. After earning a law degree from the University of Virginia and practicing law in his native Petersburg, Archer led a company of Virginia volunteers during the Mexican War (1846–1848). During the American Civil War (1861–1865), he served in the infantry and at the Norfolk Naval Hospital before retiring back to his Petersburg law practice. In 1864, however, with Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant‘s Army of the Potomac moving south, Archer raised a battalion of Virginia Reserves—composed mostly of men either too young or old for regular duty—and, on June 9, helped to successfully defend the city at the Battle of Old Men and Young Boys. After the war, Archer joined the Conservative Party and, as president of the Petersburg City Council, became mayor in 1882 when William E. Cameron, the previous mayor, became governor. Archer served until 1883, and died in Petersburg in 1902.
Gabriel Archer chronicled an expedition to New England in 1602 and was among the first settlers of the Virginia colony at Jamestown in 1607. Probably born in Essex County, England, Archer attended Cambridge University. In 1602, he joined Bartholomew Gosnold in exploring Cape Cod, or what was then known as North Virginia, and his account of the trip was published posthumously in 1625. It is the first detailed English account of any part of New England. Five years later Archer was wounded in an attack by Virginia Indians upon first landing on the James River, but soon recovered. He joined Christopher Newport in exploring up the river, writing a narrative of that expedition, too. When John Smith returned from captivity among the Indians, Archer sought his execution but Newport intervened in Smith’s favor. Archer returned to England not long after. A second stint in Virginia began in 1609 and included more conflict with Smith, who left the colony in the autumn of 1609. Archer died sometime that winter during the so-called Starving Time.
William Segar Archer was a member of the House of Delegates (1812–1814, 1818–1819), the U.S. House of Representatives (1820–1835), and the U.S. Senate (1841–1847). Born in Amelia County and educated at the College of William and Mary, Archer began his political career early and represented his constituents as a conservative, states’ rights Republican. He supported President Andrew Jackson but broke with him over his handling of the Nullification Crisis of 1832–1833. By the 1840s he had joined the Whig Party, and as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he opposed the annexation of Texas but favored the expansion of slavery into the Southwest. He lost elections to be a delegate at the constitutional conventions of 1829–1830 and 1850 and generally opposed their attempts at democratic reform. He died in 1855.
Samuel Argall was a longtime resident of Jamestown and the deputy governor of Virginia (1617–1619). He pioneered a faster means of traveling to Virginia by following the 30th parallel, north of the traditional Caribbean route, and he first arrived in June 1610, just after the “Starving Time” when the surviving colonists were ready to quit for Newfoundland. Although he joined in the war against the Virginia Indians, Argall also engaged in diplomacy, negotiating provisions from Iopassus (Japazaws) of the Patawomeck tribe. Argall explored the Potomac River region in the winter of 1612 and spring of 1613, and there, with Iopassus’s complicity, kidnapped Pocahontas, a move that helped establish an alliance between the Patawomecks and the Virginians. In 1613 and 1614, Argall explored as far north as present-day Maine and Nova Scotia, and made hostile contact with the Dutch colony at Manhattan. He also helped negotiate peace with the Pamunkey and Chickahominy tribes. As deputy governor, Argall improved military preparedness but did not enforce martial law in the same way as Sir Thomas Dale had, making his administration a bridge between the old politics and a new more democratic era. Knighted by James I in 1622, Argall led an English fleet against the Spanish in 1625 and died at sea in 1626.
John Ariss was a builder, responsible for the design and construction of a number of Virginia and Maryland buildings in the eighteenth century. Born in Westmoreland County, he apprenticed with a local carpenter, probably studied architecture from books, and began advertising his services by 1751. He built a brick church in Charles County, Maryland, and in Fairfax and Frederick counties, and may have been involved with renovations to the main house owned by Philip Ludwell Lee. Little is known of his skills or what other work he did. In 1786 Ariss leased land in Berkeley County from his distant relative George Washington and built a house called Locust Hill. He died in 1799.
John Armistead was a member of the governor’s Council of Virginia late in the seventeenth century. A planter in Gloucester County, he also entered into several successful business ventures. Becoming active in politics, Armistead sat on the county court and served as sheriff. He opposed the tobacco cutting riots and favored English policies put in place after Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677). Armistead twice represented Gloucester in the House of Burgesses before the governor appointed him to the Council in 1688. Armistead relinquished his seat in 1691 when he refused to take the oaths to the new monarchs William and Mary. Although restored to his place later in the decade, Armistead did not rejoin the Council. His date of death is unknown.
John M. Armistead was an influential Baptist minister in Portsmouth. Born enslaved, Armistead began his religious studies in 1868. He was a successful minister in Tennessee before taking over Portsmouth’s Zion Baptist Church in 1882. During his forty-three years at the congregation’s helm its membership nearly tripled and helped create five other churches. One of the most inspiring pulpit orators of his time, Armistead presided over the Virginia Baptist State Convention for six years, and he helped broker a deal that led to the establishment of Lynchburg Baptist Seminary (later Virginia University of Lynchburg). He retired in 1925 and died in Portsmouth four years later.
Samuel Chapman Armstrong was the founder of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). Armstrong’s father served as the kingdom of Hawaii’s minister of education and emphasized student labor as a key part of schooling. The younger Armstrong enlisted in the Union army during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and commanded regiments in the United States Colored Troops. After the war he worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau and began planning a school to train black teachers. Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute opened in 1868 and emphasized labor alongside academics. The institution produced African American educators across the South, most notably Booker T. Washington. In 1878 Hampton’s mission expanded with the admission of Native American students. The growth intensified Armstrong dependence on benefactors and in turn left it further exposed to the rising racism among American whites. In his later years academics at Hampton were publicly de-emphasized in favor of its trade-school programs. Armstrong died of a stroke in 1893.
William H. Ash represented Amelia and Nottoway counties in the House of Delegates during the 1887–1888 session. Ash was born enslaved and graduated from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). He settled in Burkeville as a teacher and helped establish the first statewide organization for African American educators in 1884. Three years later the Republicans selected Ash as their candidate for the House of Delegates but his ties to party leader William Mahone likely cost him renomination in 1889. He remained an educator and was an agricultural instructor at Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (later Virginia State University) at the time of his death in 1908.
Ashuaquid, an Arrohateck chief, was the head of a tribe consisting of about sixty warriors who resided in a town on the north bank of the James River about thirteen miles below the fall line, well within the territory that was part of Powhatan‘s original inheritance. Powhatan frequently placed a close relative, such as a son, brother, or sister, in such leadership positions, but evidence of Ashuaquid’s relationship to Powhatan is lacking. In May 1607, Ashuaquid’s tribe twice welcomed Christopher Newport and a small group of men who were exploring the upper reaches of the James River. Later, after learning that the colonists’ fort at Jamestown had been attacked by Indians hostile to the settlers, Ashuaquid advised the colonists on who their enemies were and how to better defend against them. The Arrohateck tribe is last mentioned in William Strachey‘s record of his visit to Virginia in 1609. The Arrohateck site had been abandoned by 1611 and the fate of Ashuaquid is unknown.
Archibald Atkinson was a member of the House of Delegates (1815–1817, 1828–1831), the Senate of Virginia (1839–1843), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1843–1849). Born in Isle of Wight County, he practiced law after seeing brief action during the War of 1812. In politics, Atkinson was an ardent proslavery Democrat who supported territorial expansion in Oregon and Texas and the right to expand slavery into the territories won during the Mexican War (1846–1848). In a valedictory speech to Congress in 1849 he defended slavery as a moral good for African Americans. He served as the mayor of Smithfield from 1852 to 1855 and then left politics to farm. He died in 1872.
W. Atkinson was a Presbyterian minister and lawyer who preached that slavery was bad and abolitionists even worse. Born into a Quaker and Episcopal family in Chesterfield County, he was educated at the Presbyterian College of New Jersey. Although he returned to Virginia and became a lawyer, Atkinson’s religious calling became more important to him than the courtroom. In 1833, he was appointed general agent of the American Bible Society and was known as a friendly and diplomatic figure who could work across denominations. That same year the East Hanover Presbytery licensed him to preach, and he traveled across Virginia and the region organizing Bible societies and women’s auxiliaries, and collecting funds. In 1835 he was attacked for possibly harboring abolitionist sentiments, which he denied. While slavery was “a great evil,” he contended, abolitionism was “a still greater” one. In 1838 Atkinson became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Winchester, and his presence there helped to ease a schism in the local church. In 1846 Atkinson resigned to become a traveling agent for the Presbyterian Board of Education, dying three years later in Winchester.
Joseph S. Atwell was the first black Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Virginia. The Barbados-born Atwell graduated from the Philadelphia Divinity School in 1866. The following year the Diocese of Kentucky named him its first black deacon. In 1868 the Virginia Episcopal Church’s governing body recruited Atwell to preside over Saint Stephen’s Church in Petersburg, ordaining him a priest the following year. Though he helped his church grow in size and wealth, he chafed under restrictions that put his ministry under the Committee on Colored Congregations. In 1873 he left Virginia for Saint Stephen’s Church of Savannah, Georgia, and eventually took over historic Saint Philip’s Church in New York City. He died there in 1881.
John H. Aulick was a United States Navy officer whose appointment in 1851 to negotiate a treaty with Japan ended with his being relieved of command and replaced by Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Born in Winchester, Aulick was a veteran of the War of 1812, during which he was captured and later awarded a congressional medal, and the Mexican War (1846–1848). In 1850, Aulick was given command of the East India Squadron, and his suggestion of trade negotiations with Japan was approved by United States president Millard Fillmore. Aulick’s quarrels with his ship’s captain, however, in addition to charges filed against Aulick by one of the voyage’s diplomatic passengers, led Fillmore to replace him with Perry. Negotiations with Japan were a success and Perry became famous for the achievement. Aulick’s career was effectively over. He retired in 1861 and died in Washington in 1873.
Lemuel E. Babcock represented Charles City and New Kent counties at the Convention of 1867–1868, called to write a new state constitution. The New England–raised Babcock moved to Virginia sometime during the 1840s. He eventually settled in Charles City County, and in 1860 he owned the locality’s second largest lumber business. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Babcock remained in Virginia as a slaveholder despite his support for the Union. In 1864 state authorities erroneously arrested Babcock as an enemy agent. The incarceration backfired on Confederate authorities since it drove him to begin giving intelligence to the Union army. He was arrested again in February 1865, imprisoned at Castle Thunder, and escaped while being transferred from Richmond to Danville. Babcock resumed his lumber business after the war and won election to the state constitutional convention two years later. He moved to Vermont in 1871 but retained strong ties to the Charles City County, where his son served as county treasurer for twenty-three years.
Nathaniel Bacon was a member of the governor’s Council and, in 1676, a leader of Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677), a dramatic uprising against the governor that ended with Bacon’s sudden death. Bacon was born and educated in England and moved to Virginia with his wife in 1674. A relative of both the governor, Sir William Berkeley, and his wealthy wife, Frances Culpeper Stephens Berkeley, the tall, handsome, and arrogant Bacon farmed land on the James River and, in 1675, was appointed to the Council. His rebellion erupted in a climate of political and economic uncertainty made worse by a series of Indian attacks. When the governor rebuked Bacon’s attempt at reprisals, Bacon ignored him and was removed from the Council, after which he marched a militia to Jamestown. There, he was pardoned by the governor who then changed his mind, setting up a confrontation a few weeks later in which, at the House of Burgesses, Berkeley bared his chest and dared Bacon to shoot him. After issuing a declaration of grievance calling for a new assembly to be chosen under his own authority, Bacon marched his men to the lower Rappahannock River and attacked the friendly Pamunkey Indians. His subsequent siege of Jamestown provoked action from the English king, but Bacon died suddenly of dysentery on October 26, 1676. His rebellion remains one of the most controversial events in Virginia history.
Nathaniel Bacon, a member of the governor’s Council, was often referred to as Nathaniel Bacon (the elder) in order to distinguish him from his namesake cousin, known as Nathaniel Bacon (the rebel) (1647–1676). Little is known about his early life. By 1653 Bacon had moved to Virginia. He settled in Isle of Wight County before moving to York County. In March 1656 Bacon represented York County in the House of Burgesses, and by December of that year he had become a member of the governor’s Council, where he served for three years. After another term as a burgess in 1659, he had once again been named to the Council by August 1660. As the senior member of the Council by January 1682, on three separate occasions in the 1680s and early in 1690 he served as president and acting governor of the colony. Bacon had no children, and when he died on March 16, 1692, his niece Abigail Smith Burwell inherited his vast estate.
Odessa Pittard Bailey was a civic leader in western Virginia. In 1944, after her appointment to the Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, she became the first woman in Virginia’s history to hold a judicial post higher than justice of the peace or county trial justice. She helped found the Virginia Council of Juvenile Court Judges and served as its president from 1947 to 1948. After leaving the bench in 1948, she was appointed to several state commissions dealing with crime and social work. Bailey participated in Democratic Party politics, and as president of the Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs she lobbied for increased state funding to help disadvantaged children and the mentally ill. After her husband’s death in 1957, Bailey ran a travel agency in Roanoke. She later moved to California, where she died in 1994.
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.
W. Lester Banks was a civil rights activist. Born in Lunenburg County, Banks served as a school principal in Halifax and Charles City counties before seeing action in the Pacific during World War II (1939–1945). Embarking on a long career to combat segregation in 1943, Banks became the first executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Virginia State Conference in 1947. Working behind the scenes, Banks played a significant role in the desegregation of Virginia schools and other public facilities. He retired in 1976 and the following year moved to California, where he died in 1986.
B. Johnson Barbour was a planter, orator, rector of the University of Virginia (1866–1872), and member of the House of Delegates (1879–1880). Born at his family’s large Orange County estate, Barbour was the son of a governor and nephew of a U.S. Supreme Court justice. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1839 and spent the next decades farming, delivering public speeches, and serving as an Episcopal lay leader. Like his mother, Barbour supported the Whig Party and was a Unionist prior to the American Civil War (1861–1865). He took no active political or civil role during the conflict. In 1865, Barbour was elected to Congress but the body refused to seat anyone from a former Confederate state. He threw his energies, instead, into his alma mater, serving on the board of visitors and then as rector, advocating a curriculum that included applied sciences and teacher education. He served on the board of the fund that supported the school’s Department of Agriculture, and on the board of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (1876–1878). As a member of the House of Delegates, Barbour led an investigation into the Blacksburg school that resulted in the appointment of a new board of visitors. Barbour died in 1894.
James Barbour was Speaker of the House of Delegates (1809–1812), the governor of Virginia (1812–1814), a member of the U.S. Senate (1815–1825) and its president pro tempore (1819), and the secretary of war (1825–1828) and minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain (1828–1829) in the administration of President John Quincy Adams. Born in Orange County, he read law in Richmond and married his first cousin, Lucy Maria Johnson. (Barbour’s younger brother, Philip Pendleton Barbour, married Johnson’s sister.) As a member of the General Assembly, Barbour was a states’-rights conservative, but that changed over time. He became governor after George William Smith died in the Richmond Theatre fire, and his management of state affairs during the War of 1812 made him more appreciative of the need for a strong executive. In the U.S. Senate Barbour supported a federal bank and federally financed internal improvements and served in Adams’s Federalist administration that was loudly opposed by many Jeffersonian Virginians, including Barbour’s own brother, then in the U.S. House of Representatives. After the election of Andrew Jackson, Barbour retired to his estate, Barboursville, where he focused on innovative farming techniques. He helped to organize the Whig Party in Virginia in opposition to Jackson’s policies. He died in 1842.
John S. Barbour served as a United States senator, but his biggest effect on Virginia’s political history came from his organizational skills. Barbour hailed from a politically active family and joined the House of Delegates in his twenties. After four years in the General Assembly, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad (later the Virginia Midland Railway) named him its president. Barbour held the position for thirty-four years. He began his rivalry with fellow transportation leader and politician William Mahone when railroad consolidation accelerated after the American Civil War (1861–1865). He reentered politics in 1880 when the Funder wing of the Conservative Party nominated him for Congress, winning the first of three terms. Three years later he became state chairman of the party, now called the Democratic Party, and led it to convincing win in that year’s elections over Mahone’s Readjuster Party. By emphasizing white supremacy and animosity to Mahone’s political power while accepting the Readjusters’ financial reforms, Barbour engineered the start of the Democrats’ nearly century-long domination of Virginia politics.
Philip Pendleton Barbour was a member of the House of Delegates (1812–1814), Speaker of the House of Representatives (1821–1823), president of the Convention of 1829–1830, a federal district court judge (1830–1836), and an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1836–1841). Born in Orange County, Barbour studied law with St. George Tucker and practiced briefly in Kentucky before returning to Virginia. He served for two years in the General Assembly and then in Congress, from 1814 to 1825. His older brother, James Barbour, also was a prominent politician, serving as governor and then in the U.S. Senate, but their political philosophies diverged over time. Whereas James Barbour came to support a federal bank and federally supported internal improvement projects, Philip Pendleton Barbour remained a staunch Jeffersonian conservative, emphasizing states’ rights and limited government. Even while his brother served in the cabinet of President John Quincy Adams, Philip Pendleton Barbour loudly opposed the administration. After the election of Andrew Jackson, Barbour won appointment as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His time on the bench was short and devoted to undoing the work of Chief Justice John Marshall, who advocated for a broad interpretation of the Constitution. Barbour died in 1841.
Thomas H. Barnes was a physician and a member of the House of Delegates (1874–1877), the Senate of Virginia (1887–1894), and the Convention of 1901–1902. Born in Nansemond County, he was educated at the University of Virginia and the Medical College of Virginia. He practiced medicine, never married, and did not serve in the military during the American Civil War (1861–1865). After the war, Barnes became active in Democratic Party politics, serving in the General Assembly and in the state constitutional convention. He died in 1913.
William Barret was a Richmond tobacco manufacturer. Born in Richmond, he served in a Richmond militia unit during the War of 1812 but saw no action. He became wealthy manufacturing chewing tobacco. By 1850 about 100 slaves labored in his large factory, producing 400,000 pounds of chewing tobacco per year, worth about $100,000. One of the slaves who worked in his factory, Henry Brown, famously escaped to freedom by having himself mailed to Philadelphia in a dry goods box. Barret enlarged his factories during the 1850s and by 1860 produced 590,000 pounds of tobacco every year, including his best-known brand, Negro Head. By the start of the American Civil War (1861–1865) Barret had retired and his reticence about investing in the Confederacy spared his fortune. Family legend suggests that Barret survived the Richmond Theatre fire of 1811 because he left the performance early. In 1871, however, he died in Richmond after inadvertently setting himself on fire.
James D. Barrett represented Fluvanna County at the Convention of 1867–1868. Barrett, most likely enslaved before Emancipation, became involved with politics after the American Civil War (1861–1865). He and the county’s African American voters showed an independent streak during elections for delegates to the convention that created a new state constitution. A public meeting nominated Abraham Shepherd, a white conservative and the county’s court clerk, instead of Barrett. He ran anyway and won by a clear majority of Fluvanna’s black voters. Outside of politics, he worked as a pastor and helped organize Thessalonia Baptist Church in 1868. Barrett married twice and died in 1903.
Samuel Barron was a United States and Confederate States naval officer. The son and nephew of United States Navy captains, he was appointed a midshipman at two years old, reported for active duty at six, and sailed aboard the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet before he was eleven. During the Mexican War (1846–1848), Barron commanded the USS Perry on the Pacific coast, and during the 1850s, he served in Washington, D.C., where his courtly manners earned him the nickname, “the Navy diplomat.” Like Robert E. Lee, he opposed secession but joined the Confederacy anyway, and during the American Civil War (1861–1865), he served first on the North Carolina coast and was captured there in 1861 and exchanged in July 1862. In March 1863, he assumed command of the James River Squadron, but spent most of his time in Richmond. At the end of the year, he transferred to Europe, but by this time Britain and France had settled on neutrality and his efforts to build a Confederate fleet there were stymied. Barron did not return to Virginia in time to play much role in the end of the war and eventually retired to a farm in Essex County, where he died in 1888.
Britton Baskervill represented Mecklenburg County for one term in the General Assembly (1887–1888). Born enslaved, he acquired an education after the American Civil War (1861–1865) and taught school as one of his occupations. In 1887 Republican Party leader William Mahone engineered Baskervill’s nomination as the party’s candidate to the House of Delegates. The African American majority among the county’s electorate provided Baskervill an easy victory over his Democratic opponent in the general election. He stood by Mahone in 1888 when most African Americans supported the independent congressional candidacy of John Mercer Langston. A year later, however, Baskervill lost Mahone’s political support and with it the Republican Party’s nomination for the seat in 1889. Baskervill returned to teaching and farming, never again holding public office.
Nathaniel Basse was an English colonist who represented Warrosquyoake in the House of Burgesses (1624, 1625, 1628, 1629) and served on the governor’s Council. The length of his service on the Council is unknown, but he is named as a member on documents dated December 20, 1631, and February 21, 1632. He came to Virginia in March 1619 with Christopher Lawne. In 1621 he received a grant of 300 acres of land; his settlement, Basse’s Choice, was among the first English settlements in Isle of Wight County. Knowledge of his personal and family life is obscured by a lack of documentation, but tradition holds that he may have been the father of John Bass, who married a member of the Nansemond tribe in 1638 and from whom the Bass family of lower Tidewater Virginia is descended. However, a deposition recorded in England on August 30, 1654, states that Basse died without issue.
Burwell Bassett was member of the House of Delegates (1787–1790, 1820–1821), the Senate of Virginia (1793–1805), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1805–1813, 1815–1819, 1821–1829). Born in New Kent County, he was educated at the College of William and Mary before inheriting his family’s land. Bassett won election to the House of Delegates in 1787 and then succeeded his father in the Senate of Virginia in 1793. He supported Thomas Jefferson in the presidential election of 1800 and later won a congressional seat as a Jeffersonian Republican. In three different stints in the House, Bassett generally supported states’ rights but only spoke occasionally. He also was a prominent and active lay leader of the Episcopal Church in Virginia. He died in 1841.
Andrew W. E. Bassette was a teacher, lawyer, and businessman who rose from an impoverished upbringing to become a prosperous leader of Hampton‘s African American community. Born in Hampton, possibly enslaved, Bassette attended Hampton Institute and then taught school, supplementing his income with farm work. Finding time to study law, he passed the bar, and likely served as assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Elizabeth City County. In 1889 he became one of a dozen founders of the People’s Building and Loan Association of Hampton, writing the charter and serving as general counsel. Known as “Lawyer Bassette,” he was one of Hampton’s best-known African American figures, participating and sometimes presiding over the city’s annual Emancipation Proclamation Day celebration. The city named a school for him. The father of an attorney, physician, and dentist, Bassette died at his home in 1942.
Thomas Batte was one of the first Anglo-Virginians to explore west of the Appalachian Mountains. Born probably in Virginia, he patented almost 6,000 acres of land near the mouth of the Appomattox River in 1668. In September 1671 he and Robert Hallom (or Hallam) set out on a month-long journey from Fort Henry, near the present site of Petersburg. Accompanied by Appamattuck, Saponi, and Totero Indian guides, they headed west across the Staunton River and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Batte and Hallom traveled parallel to the New River as far west as the Tug Fork, seventy-five miles west of the crest of the Appalachians. Their expedition, later known erroneously as the Batts and Fallam Expedition after their names were spelled incorrectly in accounts of the journey, established the first solid British and Virginian claims to the Ohio and Mississippi River watersheds. Batte served as a county court justice during the 1680s. His name last appeared in public records in August 1695.
Archibald Batte was a merchant and a registered free person of color in Chesterfield County who also owned more than a dozen slaves at the time of his death. Probably born in Prince George County, Batte may have been the son of an African American woman and a white farmer. He acquired the property, including land and slaves, after the farmer’s death. He eventually operated a grocery store in Bermuda Hundred, and his slaves—none of whom were close relations—likely worked in the store and on his farm. Batte was prosperous and respected enough to have once filed suit against a white man, which he lost. He died in 1830.
Thomas Monteagle Bayly member of the House of Delegates (1798–1801, 1819–1820, 1828–1831), the Senate of Virginia (1801–1809), the U.S. House of Representatives (1813–1815), and of the Convention of 1829–1830. Born in Accomack County and educated at what would later become Princeton University, in New Jersey, Bayly began his political career early, serving as a Federalist in the General Assembly and, for a single term, in Congress. He opposed the War of 1812 but served in the field nevertheless. In 1829 he was elected a delegate to the constitutional convention, where he supported some of the democratic reforms. He died in 1834.
Leon M. Bazile was a member of the House of Delegates (1935–1941) and judge of the Fifteenth Circuit (1941–1965) most widely known for his rulings in Loving v. Virginia, the interracial marriage case ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. Born in Hanover County, Bazile earned a law degree from the University of Richmond and served in the U.S. Army during World War I (1914–1918). In the General Assembly and then on the bench, Bazile’s eccentric and independent personality sometimes rubbed others the wrong way, but he was popular among his white constituents for his defense of white supremacy. In the Loving case Bazile strictly enforced Virginia’s interracial marriage ban, finding it a just and moral law. His notorious rulings in the marriage case were the last in a long career. Less well known is his nearly five-decade role as a significant shaper and defender of Virginia’s segregation laws. Bazile was involved in virtually every legal race issue during those years—the racial integrity and segregation laws of the 1920s, proposals for repatriation of African Americans in the 1930s, the public school equalization cases in the 1940s, defense of Virginia’s Massive Resistance in the 1950s, prosecution of the Danville civil rights demonstrators in 1963, and, finally, his last ruling in the Loving case in 1965. He retired in 1965 and died two years later, just before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his Loving opinion.
S. Ferguson Beach was a member of the Convention of 1864 and a U.S. attorney. Born in Connecticut, he taught school before moving to Alexandria, where he opened a law practice. During the American Civil War (1861–1865) Beach was an outspoken Unionist. In 1864 he was one of seventeen delegates, and the only attorney, elected to the Convention of 1864, called by the Restored government to draft a new state constitution. Although records indicate that he was a slave holder himself in 1860, Beach voted in favor of a provision to abolish slavery. Later that year Beach argued in court that, according to Virginia law, an African American should not be allowed to testify against his white client. Beach’s political views tended in favor of African American civil rights, however, and after the war he became a Republican. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson appointed Beach U.S. attorney for the district of Virginia, and in that position he successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of former Confederates whose property had been seized and auctioned during the Civil War. These cases helped force the federal government to pay the family of Robert E. Lee for the seized Arlington estate. Beach died in Baltimore in 1893.
R. L. T. Beale was twice a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1847–1849; 1879–1881), member of the Convention of 1850–1851, member of the Senate of Virginia (1857–1860), and a Confederate army officer during the American Civil War (1861–1865). After earning a law degree at the University of Virginia, Beale practiced law in his native Westmoreland County. He was first elected to Congress as a proslavery Democrat but did not seek reelection. Instead, he served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1850, generally opposing proposals to make state government more democratic. After serving a term in the state senate, he joined the Confederate cavalry and fought with the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the war. In June 1862, a newspaper reporter accompanied Beale during J. E. B. Stuart‘s famous ride around the Union army, and in March 1864, Beale’s cavalry detachment killed Union colonel Ulric Dahlgren, ending the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid. After the war, Beale wrote a history of the 9th Virginia, published posthumously, and served a second term in Congress.
John Y. Beall was a Confederate navy officer hanged as a spy by Union authorities at the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865). A militiaman who witnessed the execution of John Brown in 1859, Beall joined the Stonewall Brigade, fought with Turner Ashby, and participated in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign (1862), during which he became separated from his unit. He moved to Iowa and then to Canada, where he eventually joined the Confederate navy and planned and sometimes executed various clandestine missions. After capturing a Union merchant ship, Beall himself was captured and imprisoned briefly before being exchanged. He refused a commission in the Confederate secret service, but returned to Canada where he continued his clandestine work. After being captured again at Niagara Falls, this time when he attempted to derail trains carrying Confederate prisoners, Beall was tried for spying. The charges cited a failed attempt to seize a civilian passenger boat and use it to capture a Union gunboat, an aborted mission in which Beall disguised himself as a passenger. Beall was defended by a prominent New York City attorney and ninety-two members of the U.S. Congress signed a petition for his pardon, but he was hanged on February 24, 1865.
Roy C. Beazley directed nursing education in various positions at the University of Virginia from 1946 until 1969, and was the first woman at the university to be named professor emerita. Born in Orange County and named for her uncle, Beazley began her career as a teacher but after suffering a serious illness she became interested in nursing. She attended the hospital nursing school at the University of Virginia and, with the exception of a degree earned at Columbia University in 1953, remained in Charlottesville for the rest of her career. She directed the evolution of the nursing education program into the School of Nursing and served as president of the Virginia State Board of Examiners of Nurses from 1959 to 1961. She retired from teaching in 1969 and died in 1985. Later that year she was posthumously awarded the University of Virginia’s Distinguished Nursing Alumnae Award.
John H. Bell was a prominent eugenicist and physician in Virginia. A member of the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Virginia Academy of Science, and the Medical Society of Virginia, Bell advocated the forced sterilization of people believed to be incompetent. Appointed superintendent of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, in Lynchburg, Bell became a principal in the lawsuit arranged by the former superintendent to test Virginia’s 1924 legislation allowing for forced sterilization. Carrie Elizabeth Buck, a patient at the colony, had been selected for the test case. In its landmark ruling in Buck v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Virginia’s law. Bell performed the operation on Buck himself. Bell continued to produce pamphlets defending eugenics until his death.
Robert Norton, one of three brothers elected to the General Assembly, served in the House of Delegates (1869–1882) and chaired the Committee on Labor and the Poor during the 1881–1882 session. Norton and his brother Daniel M. Norton escaped slavery in the mid-1850s. After the American Civil War (1861–1865), Robert Norton settled in Yorktown and carved out a power base by leading the fraternal society Lone Star. He won his first election to the House of Delegates in 1869, serving all but one term through 1883. The rise of the Readjuster Party late in the 1870s enhanced Norton’s influence, and he gained notice for seconding party leader William Mahone‘s nomination for the U.S. Senate. Norton sat as a delegate to Republican and Readjuster national and state conventions, and campaigned unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 1874. Norton lost his bid for renomination to the House of Delegates in 1883. He was named to the board of visitors of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (later Virginia State University) in 1885 and held a gubernatorial appointment as a curator of the fund for Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). Norton died by 1898.
Richard Bennett served as governor of Virginia (1652–1655), in the House of Burgesses (1629), and served two stints on the governor’s Council (1642–1652; 1658–1675). Born into an English merchant family, he came to Virginia around 1628 to run his uncle’s estate and set about acquiring thousands of acres of his own as well as importing Puritan settlers who helped provide him an important political base. In 1646, he led a force of Puritans to assist the exiled governor of Maryland and helped start a Puritan migration to the colony. After Parliament’s defeat of Charles I in the English Civil Wars, Bennett negotiated the bloodless submission of the Virginia and Maryland colonies, which were loyal to the Crown. The General Assembly then elected him governor of Virginia, and during his term he tried but failed to politically unite the Chesapeake Bay colonies. Not long after Catholics and Puritans fought a bloody battle in Maryland, Bennett stepped down as governor, but in 1657 he helped negotiate a treaty that restored Maryland’s charter rights. He then served on the governor’s Council and, as a major general in the Virginia militia, helped defend the colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667). Bennett died early in 1675.
Frances Culpeper Stephens Berkeley, best known as Lady Frances Berkeley, was the wife of Sir William Berkeley, the long-serving governor of the Virginia colony and whose authority was challenged so dramatically by his wife’s relative Nathaniel Bacon. After arriving in Virginia with her parents about 1650, Frances Culpeper first married Captain Samuel Stephens, who became governor of the Albemarle settlements in present-day North Carolina. Upon Stephens’s death, his wife inherited his large estate and soon married the Virginia governor, taking up residence at his estate, Green Spring, and vigorously supporting him during Bacon’s Rebellion during the summer of 1676. Lady Berkeley pleaded her husband’s case before King Charles II in 1676 but when she returned to Virginia the next year, it was with Governor Berkeley’s replacement, Herbert Jeffreys. After Berkeley’s death in 1677, Lady Berkeley became a leader of the so-called Green Spring faction, a powerful political group often at odds with the new governor. She married the colony’s treasurer Philip Ludwell, but by the 1680s, her political influence had waned, despite Ludwell’s service as deputy governor of North Carolina and South Carolina. Lady Berkeley died about 1695.
John Berkeley was a member of the governor’s Council and overseer of an ironworks in Virginia. Berkeley, born in Gloucestershire, England, came to the attention of the Virginia Company of London in 1621 because of his experience in iron smelting and forging. In July 1621, before he reached Virginia, he was appointed to the governor’s Council. Upon arrival in the colony, Berkeley continued the construction of an ironworks near Falling Creek, in what is now Chesterfield County. Before he could begin production, Berkeley and twenty-six others at the ironworks were killed during the Powhatans’ concerted uprising of March 22, 1622.
Norborne Berkeley, baron de Botetourt, was royal governor of Virginia from 1768 until his death in 1770. Born Norborne Berkeley in London, England, he served in the House of Commons from 1741 until 1764, when he procured the revival of the barony of Botetourt and became a member of the House of Lords. In 1768 King George III commissioned Botetourt royal governor of Virginia. Unlike his predecessor, Sir Jeffery Amherst, who had refused to reside in the colony, Botetourt moved to Williamsburg and lived there for almost two years. The new governor was well liked by Virginians, who believed that he disapproved of British policies; in reality, he advised the Crown to stand firm against colonial protests, and had supported taxing the colonists as a member of the House of Lords. Botetourt died on October 15, 1770, and was buried in the chapel at the College of William and Mary.
Sir William Berkeley was the longest-serving governor of Virginia (1641–1652, 1660–1677), a playwright, and author of Discourse and View of Virginia (1663), which argued for a more diversified colonial economy. After being educated at Oxford and after a brief study of the law, Berkeley gained access to the royal circle surrounding King Charles I, and one of his plays, The Lost Lady (1638), was performed for the king and queen. In 1641, he was named governor and captain general of Virginia, where he raised tobacco but also, at Green Spring, experimented with more diverse crops. His first stint as governor, marked by his willingness to share power and by the rise in stature of the General Assembly in Jamestown, ended with the king’s execution. Berkeley’s restoration coincided with King Charles II’s, but his second governorship was much less successful. He failed to diversify the tobacco-based economy or to convince many settlers that the colony was adequately protecting them from Indian attacks. In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon challenged Berkeley directly, even laying siege to and then burning Jamestown. Although Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) was suppressed, Berkeley’s authority had been undermined, and he was replaced by Herbert Jeffreys in 1677. In May of that year Berkeley sailed to England to plead his case, but before he could meet the king, he died on July 9.
James Solomon Russell founded Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School (later Saint Paul’s College). Born enslaved, after the American Civil War (1861–1865) Russell sought an education and attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University) when family finances allowed it. He established himself as a teacher and became attracted to the Episcopal Church. Russell entered divinity school, serving in a series of religious positions while attending what became the Bishop Payne Divinity School, in Petersburg. The church ordained him a deacon in 1882 and a priest in 1887. He began his ministry in 1882 in the Brunswick County town of Lawrenceville. In 1888 he founded Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School, in response to the local community’s intense desire for educational opportunities. Russell fended off the school’s early struggles by aggressively fund-raising, and Saint Paul’s expanded in both its size and curriculum. He retired as its principal 1929 and was succeeded by his son James Alvin Russell. He died in Lawrenceville in 1935.
Sir John Berry was one of three royal commissioners sent by King Charles II to put down Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) in Virginia. Having joined the English navy as a boatswain early in the 1660s, Berry quickly won promotion and commanded warships during the Second (1665–1667) and Third (1672–1674) Anglo-Dutch Wars. In October 1676 the king named Berry to a commission that led an armed force of ten naval vessels and more than 1,000 soldiers to put down Bacon’s Rebellion and to investigate its causes. The rebellion had ended by the time Berry arrived in January 1677, and the commissioners clashed with Virginia’s governor, Sir William Berkeley, as they followed royal instructions to impose order on the colony. Berry’s crew fell ill, and he sailed for London in June. Berry was promoted to vice admiral in December 1688. He remained a naval commissioner until his death in 1690.
Robert Beverley was a planter whose wealth in land and slaves made him one of the richest Virginians during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Born in Essex County, he was educated in England and returned to Virginia to manage his father’s estate. He married into the powerful Carter family and built Blandfield, his imposing Georgian mansion in the Rappahannock River valley. Beverley generally avoided politics, although his refusal to support independence did not prevent his election to the House of Delegates in 1780. A longstanding feud with the Roane family erupted in violence when Thomas Roane assaulted Beverley with a cane in 1789. Beverley was not seriously injured and successfully sought redress in court. He died in 1800.
William Beverley was a member of the House of Burgesses (1736–1740, 1742–1749) and the governor’s Council (1752–1756) and a wealthy landowner who played an important role in bringing Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants to Virginia. Probably born at Jamestown, he was educated in England before returning to Virginia and serving as clerk of Essex County from 1717 until 1745. Beverley inherited land but acquired much more, especially in western Virginia. He helped Irish and Scots-Irish settle in the Shenandoah Valley, earning money off land sales and rents. Through his wealth and the power that came with it, Beverley secured a seat in the House of Burgesses and then, near the end of his life, on the governor’s Council. He died in 1756.
Walter J. Biggs enjoyed success as a popular illustrator for most of his career, and then became an accomplished painter later in life. Growing up in Salem, he attended the New York School of Art (later Parsons The New School for Design) early in the 1900s. His romantic, impressionistic-style works soon began appearing on the covers of major magazines of the period, as well as in books. Biggs won praise for his renderings of the American South, particularly for sympathetic portrayals of African American life. He started working with watercolors in the 1940s, developing a national reputation with competition prizes and exhibitions in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. He returned to Salem permanently after retiring as an illustrator late in the 1950s. In 1963 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame and died five years later in Roanoke. In 1986 Roanoke College, which owns a large collection of Biggs’s paintings and sketchbooks, dedicated the Walter Biggs Studio in the Olin Hall Student Art Center.
Billy was an enslaved African American who became a principal in a court case during the American Revolution (1775–1783). In 1781, the Prince William County Court indicted him for waging war against the state from a British armed ship. Despite his testimony that he had been forced to board the vessel against his will and had never taken up arms on behalf of the British, the court convicted Billy of treason and sentenced him to be hanged. Two dissenting judges argued to Governor Thomas Jefferson that a slave, being a noncitizen, could not commit treason. Billy received a gubernatorial reprieve, and the General Assembly pardoned him on June 14, 1781. What happened to him after that is not known. Billy made his mark on history because his trial forced white leaders to confront the logic of slavery. Excluded from the protections conferred by citizenship, he was ultimately shielded from execution because Virginia’s law of treason could not logically apply to him.
Billy or Blind Billy was a fifer. Born enslaved in Lynchburg, he was the property of Howell Davies, and Billy’s obituary reported that he became free through a subscription raised by the townspeople. At the time of his death, Billy was married to a woman named Ann Armistead, although it is unknown whether Armistead was his surname, too. Little is known of his life except that he was renowned on his instrument. He played at balls and parties and on public occasions and was associated with the tune “Wandering Willie.” Billy died in 1855.
Anthony Binga Jr. was a Baptist minister and educator. Born in Canada, where his parents had fled to escape slavery, Binga became a preacher and principal in Ohio before settling in Richmond in 1872. He served as the minister of Manchester‘s First Baptist Church and became the first African American teacher in Manchester, during that period an independent city across the James River from Richmond. He served in the school system for sixteen years, overseeing secondary education for Manchester’s black students at what expanded to include six schools. His church grew as the city developed, and he quickly became a leading light in the African American Baptist organizations. He was the first chairman of the Foreign Mission Board of the Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, the antecedent to the National Baptist Convention.
Aline E. Black was a teacher known primarily as a principal in a civil rights court case. A graduate of what became Virginia State University, Black began teaching science in Norfolk city schools in 1924. As an African American, she received a substantially smaller salary than a comparably qualified white teacher. In 1939 she agreed to be the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in Norfolk to challenge this double standard. The school board fired Black in retaliation for her suit, but another plaintiff continued the case and in 1940 the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that teacher salaries were protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Black was rehired by the school board in 1941. She continued to teach in Norfolk until her retirement in 1973; she died a year later.
Leonard A. Black was a Baptist minister in Norfolk and Petersburg. Born enslaved in Maryland, Black moved to New England in his youth. He became a member of the clergy and wrote his autobiography, The Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black, a Fugitive from Slavery (1847). Black became pastor at Norfolk’s First Baptist Church about 1871, and in 1873 became the leader of Petersburg’s historic First Baptist Church. He doubled the latter church’s membership during his tenure. Black died in Petersburg in 1883, and accounts of his funeral service stated that 5,000 people attended the ceremony.
Samuel Blackburn was an attorney who represented Bath County in the House of Delegates (1799–1801, 1809–1813, 1816–1818, 1820–1826). Born in Frederick County and educated at what later became Washington and Lee University, he acquired land in Georgia after the American Revolution (1775–1783) and served in the State Senate there. After getting caught in a land scandal involving the governor, who was also his father-in-law, Blackburn returned to Virginia and purchased land in Bath County. His law practice thrived and he served several terms in the House of Delegates, favoring the Federalists and being accused of “strong abusive denunciations” of his political opponents. Blackburn owned slaves for his entire adult life but in his will stipulated that if they would immigrate to Liberia he would free them. All but two, or forty-three enslaved people, agreed. Blackburn died in 1835.
Mary Berkeley Minor Blackford was an antislavery leader who founded a female auxiliary of the American Colonization Society in Fredericksburg. Born in Fredericksburg, she was unusually well educated by the time she married the attorney William Blackford in 1825. Together they were active in the Episcopal Church and she was a lifelong temperance advocate. Unlike her husband, Blackford saw colonization as the first step toward the abolition of slavery, and she became the most prominent female advocate of colonization in Virginia. In 1829 she founded the Fredericksburg and Falmouth Female Auxiliary to the American Colonization Society, raising hundreds of dollars and recruiting elite women such as Dolley Madison as life members. As public support for colonization and emancipation waned, she turned her efforts to promoting the education of women in Liberia. When she and her husband moved to Lynchburg in 1846, her work ended, although not her strong feelings about the cause. She became increasingly alienated from her family and opposed secession in 1861. She died in 1896.
W. W. Blackford was a Confederate army officer and civil engineer. A native of Fredericksburg who studied engineering at the University of Virginia, Blackford worked as acting chief engineer for the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. At the start of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he joined the 1st Virginia Cavalry and became an aide-de-camp for its commander, J. E. B. Stuart. He fought with the Confederate cavalry from the Seven Days’ Battles in June 1862 until the end of the war, suffering two wounds and being promoted to lieutenant colonel. After the war, Blackford worked for a railroad in Lynchburg, owned and operated a sugar plantation in Louisiana, and was a college professor in Blacksburg. He worked for the railroads again before retiring in 1890. His Civil War letters have been used by historians, and his memoir of the war was published in 1946 with an introduction by Douglas Southall Freeman. Blackford died in Princess Anne County in 1905.
William Blackford was a journalist and diplomat. Born in Maryland, he moved to Fredericksburg in 1825 to practice law. From 1828 to 1841 he owned the Fredericksburg Political Arena and Literary Messenger, which supported the Whig Party. With his wife, Mary Berkeley Minor Blackford, he was active in the colonization movement. From 1842 to 1845 he served as chargé d’affaires to the Republic of New Granada, helping to negotiate a new postal treaty. In 1846, he purchased a paper in Lynchburg, which he sold in 1850 to become postmaster. In 1853 he became the cashier of the new Exchange Bank of Lynchburg, a position he held until his death. Blackford supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and served as the Confederate States Treasury agent in Lynchburg. He died in 1864.
James H. Blackwell served as a principal of and helped develop the high school curriculum for Manchester’s first African American school. Blackwell was raised in the city (later annexed by Richmond) and worked under the tutelage of Anthony Binga, a prominent pastor. He was one of three teachers selected when Binga was named principal of the school, and Blackwell ultimately succeeded his mentor. After Richmond absorbed Manchester in 1910, city rules stipulated that no African American could serve as principal. Blackwell also helped create two financial service companies, though they met with limited success. He died in 1931. In 1951 the school where he taught was named for him, and in turn the institution gave its name to the Richmond neighborhood of Blackwell.
George Blaettermann was a professor of modern languages at the University of Virginia from 1825 until his dismissal in 1840. A native of Saxony, he studied languages as a young man and served in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army when it invaded Russia in 1812. He later lived in France, Italy, and England before in 1819 recommending himself to Thomas Jefferson as a professor at the newly established University of Virginia. Blaettermann’s mastery of languages was formidable, his teaching less so. At the University of Virginia his classes were unpopular and not well attended—Edgar Allan Poe stood out as the rare admirer—and other faculty found him to be rude and abrasive. In 1840, the board of visitors dismissed Blaettermann after he was accused of twice beating his wife in public. He retired to a farm in Albemarle County and died in 1850.
Catherine Kaidyee Blaikley was a midwife who, during the mid-eighteenth century in Virginia, purportedly delivered as many as three thousand babies. Probably born in York County, Blaikley married a watchmaker who, when he died in 1736, left her a substantial estate, including land in Henrico County, a mill in Brunswick County, and a lot in Williamsburg. Catherine Blaikley maintained her relatively high standard of living by becoming a midwife in Williamsburg in 1739. By the time of her death in 1771, male midwives also were delivering babies, a process that led to male physicians gradually replacing female midwives.
Francis S. Blair helped found the short-lived Readjuster Party and served as Virginia’s attorney general from 1882 to 1886. A veteran of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he established himself as a successful attorney in Wytheville. Blair, who preferred to be called Frank, entered politics as a populist. He clashed with the state’s conservative political establishment, enthusiastically attacking foes for their strict plan to pay Virginia’s pre–Civil War debt and their campaign to drive African Americans out of politics. The Readjusters, a coalition of reform-minded Democrats, Republicans, and black voters, sought to readjust the way the state paid its deficit. The new political force nominated Blair for attorney general in 1881. He was the leading vote-getter for the victorious ticket, and the party accomplished all of its main goals almost immediately. The quick success undermined the Readjusters’ long-term future, and Blair lost his reelection bid in 1885. He returned to Wytheville and died in 1899.
James Blair was an Anglican minister, a notoriously combative member of the governor’s Council (1694–1695; 1696–1697; 1701–1743) who worked successfully to have three governors removed, and, with Francis Nicholson, the cofounder of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. Born and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland, Blair came to Virginia in 1685 as rector of Henrico Parish. He married, acquired land, and in 1689 became commissary, or the Anglican bishop’s representative in America. Blair’s clerical convocations in 1690, 1705, and 1719 were notoriously rancorous in part due to his tendency to sympathize more with the laity than his fellow clerics; however, the 1690 meeting proved especially significant for Blair’s “Seven Propositions,” which led to the founding of the College of William and Mary. As president for life, Blair secured funding and overcame powerful opposition from men like Virginia governor Sir Edmund Andros. In the meantime, Blair consolidated his own power by becoming rector of James City Parish in Williamsburg, and in 1698 he successfully fought to have Andros removed. Over the years, Blair did the same to two more governors while continually expanding his college. By the 1720s he had rebuilt the school after a fire; housed an Indian school, chapel, library, and president’s house; drafted the first college statutes; hired the first full-time faculty; and transferred the original charter to the president and masters. Blair died in Williamsburg in 1743.
John Blair sat on the governor’s Council (1745–1770), becoming its president in 1757 and serving as acting governor on four occasions. Born in Scotland, he came to Virginia as a child, living in Williamsburg and earning a degree there at the College of William and Mary, founded by his uncle, James Blair. John Blair served as deputy auditor general from 1728 until 1771, reforming and improving the procedures by which the government collected revenue. In addition, he served as York County justice of the peace (1724–1745) and as a naval officer on the James River (1727–1728). Upon the death of his father, Archibald Blair, he joined the House of Burgesses representing Jamestown (1724–1736). In 1736, he was elected as a burgess from Williamsburg, serving until 1740. He is probably the same John Blair who also served as mayor of Williamsburg in 1751. After the governor’s death and in ill health himself, Blair resigned from the Council in 1770 rather than serve as acting governor a fifth time. He died in 1771.
John D. Blair was a Presbyterian minister in Hanover County and Richmond who preached variously at Pole Green Church, the Henrico Parish Church, and the Virginia State Capitol. Born in Pennsylvania and educated at what is now Princeton University, Blair may have served briefly in the American Revolution (1775–1783). After moving to Virginia he taught in Hanover County and served as president of the Washington-Henry Academy there from 1782 to 1790. He served as minister of Pole Green Church from 1785 to 1821 and as chaplain of the House of Delegates from 1800 to 1801. Blair was famously close friends with the Episcopal minister John Buchanan and after the Richmond Theatre fire in 1811 the two helped raise money for the construction of Monumental Church on the site of the disaster. While they may have intended to share the church, the Episcopalians appropriated it for themselves. He died in Richmond in 1823.
Lewis H. Blair, a Richmond businessman and economics expert, authored The Prosperity of the South Dependent upon the Elevation of the Negro (1889), a book that called on white southerners to treat African Americans with respect and offer them quality education. Blair hailed from a prominent family and worked as an army clerk in Texas and Michigan and a dry goods clerk in Richmond. His record during the American Civil War (1861–1865) was undistinguished, but after the conflict he excelled in business. Blair started a grocery business in Richmond and owned one of the largest real-estate businesses in the city. In addition, he became a respected writer on economic issues and was outspoken on the question of race relations. In Blair’s mind, the two were related: the fair treatment and education of African Americans would improve the economic outlook of the South. Such views were more well received nationally than in Richmond, and in later years Blair reversed his stance, arguing that blacks should be subordinate to whites. He wrote privately that this change was the result of “experience and observation.” Blair married twice and died in Richmond in 1916. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
Robert W. Blair was one of the few Republicans who served in the Convention of 1901–1902, opposing the new constitution’s strict restrictions on voting rights for African Americans and lower-income whites. Blair began his legal career working with his father, Francis S. Blair, a former attorney general of Virginia. He soon became the chairman of Wythe County‘s Republican Party. He ran for the locality’s seat in the convention, winning by twenty-three votes. Blair and the eleven other members of his party had little influence as the new state government was formed by the overwhelming Democratic majority. The Republicans nominated Blair for lieutenant governor in 1901, but he withdrew his candidacy since he was too young to hold the position. About five years later his work took him out of state, and he settled in the Detroit area and drowned in the Detroit River in 1924.
Anna Bennett Bland was a principal in a court case that resulted in the General Assembly losing its status as the court of last appeal in the colony. Bland was involved in a nine-year series of lawsuits, petitions, and counterpetitions regarding ownership of the property of her first husband, Theodorick Bland, who died in 1672. She prevailed in the Virginia courts, but in 1682 the Privy Council decided that all future appeals were to be made to the Privy Council in England rather than the General Assembly. The suit was ultimately settled in a manner that was unsatisfactory to Bland, although she was able to preserve her first husband’s properties for their sons. She died about November 1687 in Maryland.
Edward Bland was an explorer whose extensive landholdings were inherited by his brother Theodorick Bland, progenitor of the Bland family in Virginia. Born in England to an investor in the Virginia Company of London, Bland managed family interests in Spain and the Canary Islands before he moved to Virginia by 1646. He expanded his family’s property, as well as his own holdings, and he helped organize an expedition to the colony’s western frontier with explorer and trader Abraham Wood in 1650. He described his journey in the pamphlet The Discovery of New Brittaine the following year.
Edward D. Bland served three terms in the House of Delegates and played a role in maintaining the volatile coalition between the Republicans and Readjusters. Bland was born a slave and eventually settled in Prince George County as a shoemaker. Known for his speaking, he became involved in local Republican politics. He advocated the alliance between his party and the Readjusters, and he ran for the General Assembly in 1879 with nomination of the former and de facto backing of the latter. The unwieldy partnership dominated Virginia politics for four years, and Bland won reelection in 1881 and again in 1883 even though a white supremacy campaign helped cause the Readjusters to collapse. He declined reelection for a fourth term, but remained a Republican organizer in the area. He died on his farm in Prince George County in 1927. In 1954, a housing project in Hopewell was named in his honor.
Giles Bland was a participant in Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) who was executed in 1677. Born into an English mercantile family with substantial interests in Virginia, he arrived in the colony about 1673 and assumed a post as customs collector. Something of a free spirit, he clashed with Governor Sir William Berkeley concerning their overlapping authority and with politically influential family members over disposition of an uncle’s estate. The sharp-tongued Bland got into an alcohol-fueled exchange of insults with the secretary of the colony that resulted in his arrest and a public apology. Following Bland’s accusations in September 1675 that Berkeley had willfully violated trade laws, the governor’s Council suspended him as customs collector. These personal and professional conflicts likely spurred Bland to join the rebellion led by Nathaniel Bacon the following year. In September 1676 Bacon put Bland in charge of an expedition to seize the governor. Berkeley captured Bland instead, and he was executed in Jamestown on March 27, 1677.
J. W. D. Bland was a highly respected African American politician during his brief career. Born free and educated, voters in Appomattox and Prince Edward counties elected him one of their delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868. He served on three major committees and reached out to conservative whites by opposing test oaths and disfranchisement for former Confederates. He was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 1869, where he became a conciliatory figure in a racially volatile era. Focusing on education, he sponsored a successful bill that established Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). The next year Bland was among a large crowd attending a session of the Supreme Court of Appeals in the State Capitol. The floor collapsed, killing him and about sixty other observers.
Theodorick Bland was the Speaker of the House of Burgesses (1660) and a member of the governor’s Council (1662–1672). Probably born in London, he was educated there and lived for several years in Spain, where his family worked in the wine business. Bland had moved to Virginia by 1653 to take control of family land and was elected to the House of Burgesses, representing Charles City County, in 1660. That year he presided over two sessions as Speaker, helping to navigate Virginia through the political uncertainty that surrounded the end of the Commonwealth and the restoration of Charles II. Elected again to the House in 1661 and 1662, this time from Henrico County, he was not reelected Speaker, and in 1662, the governor, Sir William Berkeley, appointed him to the governor’s Council. He died in 1672 and was buried at Westover, his estate in Charles City County.
Maximilian Schele De Vere was a professor of modern languages at the University of Virginia and a founding member of the American Philological Society. Born in Sweden, likely with the surname von Scheele, he later changed his name, possibly after marrying an Irish woman named De Vere. After studying languages in Germany, Schele De Vere edited a German-language newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and then studied Greek at Harvard. In 1844, he joined the faculty at the University of Virginia, teaching there for more than fifty years. He supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861–1865), serving as captain of a home guard unit. Before and after the war he published regularly, including translations, collections of essays, and textbooks. He resigned his teaching position in 1895 amid accusations he had sent libelous letters to another professor and the chair of the faculty. He also may have become addicted to morphine taken to control back pain. Schele De Vere died in Washington, D.C., in 1898.
Benjamin Bluett was a member of the governor’s Council (1620–1621). Born in Surrey County, England, he lived in Sussex and worked as a merchant supplying the Virginia colony. In 1620, the Virginia Company of London appointed Bluett to the governor’s Council and put him in charge of a company of men working to establish an iron-mining and smelting operation in Virginia. He arrived in the colony that summer but died soon after, possibly in an attack by Virginia Indians.
Lawrence Bohun was a member of the govenror’s Council and physician general of the Virginia colony. Born probably in England, Bohun may have received his medical training at Leiden. He sailed to Virginia in 1610 as personal physician to the governor. Bohun returned to England and in 1612 was named as a shareholder in the third charter of the Virginia Company of London. While practicing medicine in London, he retained his interest in Virginia and may have been involved in an attempt to introduce silk culture there. Appointed physician general of the colony and a member of the Council in 1620, Bohun sailed for Virginia but was killed on March 19, 1621, when Spanish warships attacked his ship in the West Indies.
Robert J. Boland was a physician and African American leader in Roanoke. The Georgia-born Boland earned his medical degree in Michigan. He arrived in Virginia in 1886, possibly becoming the first black doctor to complete the new Virginia Board of Medical Examiners test. Five years later he settled in growing Roanoke, headquarters of the Norfolk and Western Railway, where he became a substantial property owner and a newspaper editor. Boland died in Roanoke in 1918.
Phillip S. Bolling initially won a seat the House of Delegates in 1883 representing Cumberland County, but the Democratic-controlled House ruled him ineligible on specious nonresidency grounds. His father, Samuel P. Bolling, was born enslaved, but acquired considerable property and owned a brickyard after the American Civil War (1861–1865). The younger Bolling ran for the General Assembly in Cumberland County as a Readjuster, but Democrats posted notices that he lived in Prince Edward County. After the election, the House’s Committee of Privileges and Elections denied the ample evidence that demonstrated Bolling was, in fact, a Cumberland resident. His father captured the position in 1885, and because of their similar names later works of history confused the two men. Phillip Bolling later developed a debilitating mental illness and died in the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg in 1892.
Robert Bolling was a poet, a member of the House of Burgesses (1761–1765), the sheriff of Buckingham County, and a member of the county court (1761–1775). Trained as a lawyer, he nearly fought a duel with William Byrd (1728–1777), a judge on the General Court, when Bolling accused the judges of bias in a murder case. Bolling was also involved in a suit brought by his youngest brother over an inheritance. The younger Bolling was represented by George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Robert Bolling by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration’s author. Bolling is best known as a poet, however. He published more poetry than any other colonial American between 1759 and 1775, including the grotesque “Neanthe” (ca. 1763), which reflected elements of Italian traditions, colonial Virginia folklore, and English poetry. In addition, during the failed courtship of his distant cousin, Bolling kept a journal, “A Circumstantial Account,” which provides a unique view of eighteenth-century Virginia gentry. Bolling died suddenly in 1775 while attending the Virginia Convention of July–August 1775.
Samuel P. Bolling was a member of the House of Delegates from Cumberland County, the owner of a brickyard in Farmville, and an entrepreneur with enough wealth and success to attract national attention. Born enslaved, Bolling developed skills as a mechanic and manager. He began acquiring property after the American Civil War (1861–1865), purchasing more than 1,000 acres in Cumberland County. A front-page article in the Cleveland Gazette, published in 1886, estimated the value of his brick-making operation and country house at $40,000. Bolling joined the Readjuster Party in 1880 and served in a series of local positions, including the county board of supervisors. In 1885 he won the House of Delegates seat his son Phillip S. Bolling had captured two years earlier. Because of their similar names later works confused the two men. In his later years the elder Bolling sold part of his property to the area’s poorer African Americans and contributed land for an industrial school. He died on his Cumberland County farm in 1900.
Stith Bolling was a politician whose fluid party affiliation illustrates the churning coalitions in Virginia after the American Civil War (1861–1865). Bolling began his professional career as a clerk and a few years later joined the Confederate cavalry. Rising to captain, he eventually led the largest cavalry company commander under Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart. In 1869 Bolling won election to the House of Delegates as part of a Conservative Party–moderate Republican coalition and captured a second term as a Conservative. He moved to Petersburg, where he joined William Mahone‘s Readjuster movement, which evolved from a Conservative faction to a short-lived party aligned with the Republicans. Both he and Mahone joined the Republicans after the Readjusters collapsed. Unlike Mahone he retained his popularity among whites and held high positions in the United Confederate Veterans‘ Army of Northern Virginia Department. Bolling died in Petersburg in 1916.
Charles Bonnycastle was a professor of natural philosophy and mathematics at the University of Virginia from 1825 until his death in 1840. Born in England, Bonnycastle was the son of a mathematics professor at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. Bonnycastle himself attended the academy and contributed to his father’s noted textbook. In 1824 he accepted an offer to join the faculty at the newly established University of Virginia, teaching natural philosophy and later mathematics and engineering. Bonnycastle proved an effective teacher, using updated pedagogy designed to engage beginning students and, in 1834, publishing his own textbook, Inductive Geometry. He died in 1840.
George William Booker’s political career, which included a term in Congress (1869–1871), provides an example of the shifting political alliances during and after the American Civil War (1861–1865). A strong Unionist during the secession crisis, he voted for the Ordinance of Secession to avoid reprisals from his neighbors. A post as justice of the peace kept him from military service during the Civil War. Booker won election to the House of Delegates in 1865 representing Henry County and aligned himself with former Whig John Minor Botts during the formation of Virginia’s Republican Party. The Republicans nominated him for attorney general in 1868, but elections were postponed. The next year he won a seat in the House of Representatives as a True Republican, an alliance between moderate members of his party and Democratic-aligned Conservatives in opposition to the Radical Republicans. He moderated his earlier anti-secession views and advocated an amnesty for former Confederates. Declining a run for a second term, he returned to the House of Delegates where he became one of the Conservative Party’s floor leaders. He died near Martinsville in 1884.
Daniel Boone was a legendary frontiersman and a member of the House of Delegates (1781–1782, 1787–1788, 1791). Born in Pennsylvania the son of Quakers, he moved to North Carolina as a young man. His first long hunting trip was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Boone briefly lived in Culpeper County after the Cherokee War drove him north, and by the end of the decade he was making regular trips to Kentucky. In 1775 he was hired to cut a road from present-day Tennessee, through the Cumberland Gap, to the Kentucky River—what came to be known as the Wilderness Road. His fame as a woodsman grew, enhanced by violent run-ins with Indians and the embellishments of writers. In 1780 he was elected to the House of Delegates from the newly created Fayette County (in what later became the state of Kentucky). Boone moved several times, ran a store, and twice more won election to the House of Delegates. In 1799 the Spanish granted him land in what was then Louisiana and what later became Missouri. He died there in 1820.
Armistead L. Boothe was a Democratic politician who challenged the party’s powerful, conservative political machine run by Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. Boothe entered the General Assembly in 1948 as an independent thinker within what was known as the Byrd Organization. He sabotaged an attempt to keep Harry S. Truman off the ballot for the 1948 presidential election and the next year predicted that public school segregation would soon be ruled illegal. In 1950 he proposed integrating common carriers, and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that segregation in public schools was indeed unconstitutional, he issued his own plan for limited public school desegregation despite his personal opposition to integration. Boothe opposed Byrd’s plan of Massive Resistance, or a refusal to desegregate, as a threat to strong public schools. Despite being an influential member of the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia for more than a decade, Boothe remained an opposition figure within his own party. He lost Democratic primaries for lieutenant governor in 1961 and for the U.S. Senate in 1966.
Gardner L. Boothe was a Democratic Party leader in Alexandria for more than fifty years. Born in that city in 1872, he studied law at the University of Virginia in 1893 and opened a law practice. Boothe became Alexandria’s city attorney in 1897 and five years later was elected a member of the Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. That same year he was selected chairman of the Eighth District Committee, a position he held until 1952. Boothe aligned himself with the state’s conservative establishment, backing stalwarts Harry F. Byrd Sr. and Howard W. Smith, including in their opposition to civil rights legislation. A member of the state’s old guard, he presided over Alexandria’s First National Bank for forty-six years and took an active role in local business, civic, and religious affairs. He died in Alexandria in 1964.
Benjamin Borden, a land speculator, played a key role in establishing some of Virginia’s early settlements west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The New Jersey native had moved to the Shenandoah Valley by April 1734 and began receiving patents for large landholdings in the Valley of Virginia. Borden promoted settlement, notably attracting newcomers from the north of Ireland to his properties. He also held minor civic positions in Orange and later Frederick Counties.
James Wood Bouldin was a member of the House of Delegates (1825–1826) and the U.S. House of Representatives (1834–1839). Born in Charlotte County, he practiced law there and served one term in the General Assembly. Then, in 1834, his brother died unexpectedly while serving in Congress and Bouldin was pressed into service as his replacement. A Democrat and ally of the Andrew Jackson administration, he won election against Beverley Tucker, finishing his brother’s term and serving two more after that. In Washington he sat on the Committee on the District of Columbia (1835–1839) and vigorously opposed the abolition of slavery in the District. He also supported the independence and eventual statehood of Texas. Bouldin died in 1854.
Powhatan Bouldin was a Democratic journalist who covered the Danville Riot of 1883. The son of a congressman, Bouldin served in a series of Charlotte County public offices before purchasing a local Danville newspaper in 1865. He ran the weekly Danville Times until illness forced his retirement in 1894. The most notable event during his journalistic career was the Danville Riot, which resulted in the deaths of four African Americans. As editor of the Danville Times, Bouldin helped shape the pro-Democratic spin on the violence that spurred the downfall of local Readjuster Party officeholders in Danville and helped rally white supremacist Democrats to reclaim political power throughout Virginia.
Thomas Tyler Bouldin was a member of the General Court (1821–1829) and the U.S. House of Representatives (1829–1834). Born in Charlotte County to a prominent family, he studied law and won a seat on the General Court, riding circuit to preside over criminal cases and hear appeals. At the same time he operated a law practice and a plantation, making him very wealthy. A protégé of John Randolph of Roanoke, he ran for Congress in 1829 only to be defeated by his mentor after two terms, in 1833. When Randolph died in office, however, Bouldin returned to the capital only to himself die after collapsing in the House chamber in 1834.
Wood Bouldin, a Democratic Party stalwart, played a key role in disfranchising African Americans and poorer whites during the Convention of 1901–1902. Born in Charlotte County, he became an attorney and served as a Confederate artillery officer during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Settling in Halifax County after the war, he became an attorney and Democratic Party leader. Halifax voters elected him to the convention called to write a new constitution for Virginia. Bouldin introduced a resolution that limited voting rights to literate property owners and jury duty to registered voters. He also gave a long speech that defending the right of the convention to put the constitution into effect without approval by the voters.
Henry M. Bowden represented the city of Norfolk in the Convention of 1867–1868. Born in James City County, Bowden became a prominent Democrat in Williamsburg and sergeant at arms of the Senate of Virginia early in the 1850s. Often clashing with local Whigs, he opposed secession, a position that provoked violence against him. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Bowden was a Unionist. He freed his slaves and managed what later became Eastern State Hospital. After the war he sat in the convention called to write a new state constitution, where he supported the Radical Republicans on most issues, such as revamping state government. Following the convention he served as assessor of internal revenue for Norfolk and represented the city for a term in the House of Delegates.
Thomas R. Bowden served as Virginia’s attorney general from 1863 to 1869, first under the Restored government of Virginia and then, after the American Civil War (1861–1865), under the postwar government of Virginia. Bowden was a member of a prominent Unionist family in Williamsburg that left the town along with Union troops in 1862. The next year he won election as attorney general for the part of Virginia recognized by the United States. When the Confederacy collapsed in Virginia, he moved to Richmond and served as attorney general for the state. He and the rest of the Republican ticket lost in 1869 and soon thereafter he moved to Washington, D.C. He died in 1893.
J. Andrew Bowler helped organize the first school for African Americans on Richmond‘s Church Hill and then served on its faculty for more than fifty years. The son of an enslaved woman, Bowler demonstrated unusual intelligence in his childhood and after the war worked to pay for his education at what later became Virginia Union University. After a brief sojourn in New York, he returned to Richmond and helped establish George Mason Elementary School. He spent years as its highest ranking African American faculty member. Bowler, a religious man, was ordained a minister in 1901 and served as pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Thirteen years after his death, Richmond’s school board opened J. Andrew Bowler School.
James Bowser was a Continental army soldier during the American Revolution (1775–1783), one of about 5,000 African Americans to serve in the Patriots’ army or navy. Born in Nansemond County, Bowser probably first joined the army in 1778 or 1779, fighting in Pennsylvania and then Virginia. He likely was present at the siege of Yorktown. There were two James Bowsers from Virginia, probably related, who fought during the war and distinguishing their lives has become difficult. Bowser was fifty-three when he left the army, and the date and place of his death are unknown.
Rosa L. Dixon Bowser, educator and civic leader, played a key role in implementing reforms that affected Virginia’s African Americans. Bowser was most likely born enslaved. After the American Civil War (1861–1865), she moved to Richmond with her family and enrolled in public school, where she showed remarkable intelligence. She went on to become a teacher in Richmond’s public schools. Her efforts on behalf of educators helped create Virginia’s first professional African American teacher’s association, and she later served as its president. Throughout her teaching career Bowser, like her contemporaries Janie Porter Barrett and Maggie Lena Walker, worked for societal improvement. She played a major role in African American reform organizations, industrial schools for black children, groups supporting universal woman suffrage, and associations publicly opposed to lynching and racial segregation. The first branch of the Richmond public library to be opened for African Americans was named for Bowser in 1925. She died of complications from diabetes in 1931 at her home in Richmond.
George Boxley was an antislavery leader who allegedly conspired to help slaves revolt in 1816. Born in Spotsylvania County, he farmed and ran a general store and himself owned slaves. His motivations for turning against slavery in 1815 remain unclear, although speculation has included everything from personal grievances to religious delusions. Boxley’s plans were exposed, a number of slaves were arrested, and he turned himself in. What resulted was the largest prosecution for insurrection between Gabriel’s Conspiracy in 1800 and Nat Turner’s Revolt in 1831. With the help of his wife, Boxley escaped jail and spent the next several years on the run, outwitting bounty hunters. He finally settled in Hamilton County, Indiana, where he died in 1865.
John Bracken was the rector of Bruton Parish from 1773 until his death, ran the grammar school at the College of William and Mary, and, from 1812 to 1814, served as the school’s ninth president. Bracken was born in England, where he was ordained a minister. His appointment as rector of Bruton Parish, in Williamsburg, was controversial and exposed rifts within the colonial church. In 1775, he took over the college’s grammar school, which closed and reopened and then closed again in the ensuing decades. He became a professor of humanity in 1777 was granted a DD in 1793. In 1812 Bracken was elected William and Mary’s president at a time when the school had only a few dozen students. He was generally ineffective and was asked to resign after two years. In his later years, Bracken served as mayor of Williamsburg and president of the board of Williamsburg’s Public Hospital. He died in 1818.
George F. Bragg was born into slavery and later became a journalist and Episcopal minister. Dismissed from divinity school, he began his public career working for Readjuster leader William Mahone and establishing the weekly Petersburg Lancet. Bragg left politics in 1884 after divisiveness within the Readjuster Party. He returned to the seminary in 1885 and a few years later took over a struggling Norfolk congregation. Within five years he turned it into a self-supporting church. In 1888 he was ordained a priest at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk, making him only the twelfth black Episcopal priest in the United States. Bragg moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1891 where he revived another church, edited a monthly newspaper, the Church Advocate, and wrote books and pamphlets. He died in Baltimore in 1940.
James Read Branch was a Confederate artillery officer and banker who helped reestablish Richmond’s struggling economy after the American Civil War (1861–1865). Branch fought in the battles of Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg (Antietam), Fredericksburg, and Plymouth. He resigned from the army in 1865, after he was slow to recover from a severe leg injury. After the war he revived Thomas Branch and Sons, the banking house he had founded with his father and brother, and became active in the Conservative Party, serving on its executive committee. He was nominated to run for a seat in the Senate of Virginia in 1869. Branch and others felt the party needed the support of African American voters to defeat the Radical Republicans. Days before the election a large crowd attending a Conservative Party picnic to attract black voters crushed the bridge on which he stood. Branch fell into the James River and drowned.
Tazewell Branch was born enslaved in Prince Edward County and later served two terms in the House of Delegates. Learning to read and write, Branch worked as a shoemaker and was known for his intelligence. By 1873 he owned land in Farmville and sat on the town council. That same year he won a seat in the General Assembly. Branch, who was respected by African Americans and whites, won reelection two years later as a member of a coalition that included the moderate factions of Prince Edward County’s Republicans and Conservatives. He dropped out of politics after his second term, and his income declined as mass-produced footwear undermined his shoemaking business. His biggest legacy might have come from his children, who became educated and led successful careers in teaching and medicine.
John S. Wise was a member of the House of Representatives (1883–1885), a judge, and, late in his career, a writer of novels and history. Born in Brazil the son of Henry A. Wise, who went on to serve as governor of Virginia, John Wise grew up in Accomack County. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and fought at the Battle of New Market (1864) during the American Civil War (1861–1865) before earning a law degree at the University of Virginia and following his father into politics. In the 1870s he became a follower of William Mahone and joined his Readjuster Party, which allied with African Americans and supported reducing the principal and interest on the state’s antebellum debt . After losing to his cousin George D. Wise in 1880, Wise won a seat in Congress in 1882, serving one term, serving as a U.S. attorney for a year in the interim. An outspoken politician who fought at least one duel, Wise lost the governor’s race to Fitzhugh Lee in 1885, leaving Virginia and its toxic political atmosphere three years later to practice law in New York. There he wrote novels, including one in the voice of his favorite hunting dog, a memoir, and an account of his political career. He retired in 1907 and died six years later.
A. Caperton Braxton was a lawyer, president of the Virginia State Bar Association, and a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902, representing Staunton and Augusta County. Braxton supported the convention’s aggressive and largely successful efforts at rolling back the reforms of Reconstruction (1865–1877) and eliminating the African American franchise in Virginia, as well as the votes of poor and uneducated whites. As the chair of the convention’s Committee on Corporations, he drafted Article XII of the Constitution of 1902, creating the State Corporation Commission, a progressive reform designed to regulate corporations in the public interest. A conservative Democrat, Braxton was named as a possible U.S. vice presidential candidate in 1904, but never ran for public office in Virginia. He died of Bright’s disease in Staunton in 1914.
Carter Braxton was a member of the Continental Congress (1776) who supported and signed the Declaration of Independence, and of the Council of State (1786–1791; 1794–1797). Born to power—his maternal grandfather was the wealthy land and slave owner Robert “King” Carter—Braxton married it, as well, wedding first a niece of the Speaker of the House of Burgesses and then, after her death, the daughter of a member of the governor’s Council. Braxton acquired large amounts of land and numbers of slaves, and he both cultivated and traded tobacco. While in the House of Burgesses (1761–1775), he served on various prestigious committees and, in May 1775, confronted Patrick Henry and a group of militiamen over their demand for reimbursement of Virginia gunpowder seized by the Crown. Braxton arranged for his father-in-law to pay for it. Although he supported independence, he published a pamphlet that challenged the democratic ideas of John Adams and, as a result, was sent home from the Continental Congress. The American Revolution (1775–1783) left Braxton virtually insolvent, but his political connections intact. He served on the Council of State, and during his second term, advised Henry, his one-time adversary and now Virginia governor. Braxton died in Richmond in 1797.
Cary Breckinridge was a Confederate cavalry officer during the American Civil War (1861–1865), who suffered five wounds, including at the Second Battle of Manassas (1862), reportedly had five horses shot from under him, and was captured and briefly imprisoned in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. Following the war, Breckinridge farmed, possibly worked in banking, and served in the House of Delegates (1869–1871). Physically imposing and from a prominent family, Breckinridge remained active in Conservative Party and Democratic Party politics and served as the superintendent of public schools for Botetourt County from 1886 until 1917. He died in 1918 at his home in Fincastle.
James Breckinridge was member of the House of Delegates (1789–1791, 1796–1802, 1806–1808, 1819–1821, 1823–1824), the U.S. House of Representatives (1809–1817), and the board of visitors of the University of Virginia (1819–1833). Born near what is now Fincastle in what was then southern Augusta County, Breckinridge came from a powerful family. (His brother John Breckinridge served in the U.S. Senate and as U.S. attorney general.) After serving during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), Breckinridge studied law under George Wythe, then opened a practice in Fincastle and began his long political career. He served several terms in the House of Delegates before being elected to Congress as a Federalist in 1809. Although he opposed war with Britain in 1812 he led the militia as a brigadier general, helping to shore up defenses around Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Breckinridge served four terms in the House of Representatives and then returned to the House of Delegates in 1819. That same year he was appointed to the board of visitors of the newly established University of Virginia, serving until his death. Breckinridge lived on a large farm, Grove Hill, in Botetourt County, but also speculated in land and had a diverse set of business interests. He died at Grove Hill in 1833.
William Breedlove served as a delegate to the Convention of 1867–1868. The free-born Breedlove owned real estate and worked as a blacksmith before the American Civil War (1861–1865). He also operated a ferry across the Rappahannock River on which he transported an escaped slave in 1863. The Essex County court convicted him for the action, but local dignitaries successfully lobbied Governor John Letcher for Breedlove’s clemency. After the war he won election to a convention called to rewrite the state’s constitution. Representing the district of Essex and Middlesex counties, he served inconspicuously and voted consistently with the Radical Republican majority. Breedlove later served as an Essex County justice of the peace, sat on the Tappahannock town council, and was the town’s postmaster until shortly before his death in 1871.
George Brent was a prominent Catholic who served as acting attorney general of Virginia. His family suffered during the English Civil Wars, and early in the 1660s Brent left for Maryland. By 1670 he had settled near relatives in Stafford County, Virginia, where he became a successful attorney, businessman, tobacco planter, and land speculator. Brent held public office despite the strictures against office holding by Catholics and was the colony’s acting attorney general from 1686 until 1688, when he was elected to the House of Burgesses. After England’s Glorious Revolution unleashed anti-Catholic sentiments in the colonies, Brent’s public career came to an end. During the 1690s he served as an agent for the Northern Neck proprietors, granting himself and his friends large tracts of land. At the time of his death by September 1700, he owned more than 15,000 acres in Virginia.
Charles Bridges was the first documented painter to live and work in Virginia and to produce work of good quality. Born to a gentry family in Northamptonshire, England, Bridges settled in London, where he may have trained as a painter and begun a career as a portraitist. After his wife’s death, he moved to Williamsburg with his children in 1735. More than two dozen portraits of Virginians are attributable to Bridges, including members of the Blair, Bolling, Carter, Custis, Grymes, Lee, Ludwell, Moore, Page, and Randolph families. He returned to England about 1744 and died in Northamptonshire in December 1747.
William H. Brisby served one term in the House of Delegates (1869–1871), representing New Kent County. Brisby, who had an African American and Pamunkey Indian background, was born free and acquired enough money to establish his own blacksmith shop in 1860. He served as a blacksmith for a Confederate cavalry company to avoid impressment during the American Civil War (1861–1865), but also helped slaves and Union prisoners escape. The suspicion of the latter led to two imprisonments. By 1867 Brisby had entered politics as a Republican and he won a seat in the General Assembly two years later by just nineteen votes. He spent ten years on the New Kent County’s board of supervisors and was a longtime justice of the peace. Brisby was strict and sometimes violent with his family, driving his sons out of the house. Late in life he began to suffer from dementia and died in 1916 at the Central State Hospital, in Petersburg, of kidney failure.
Joseph A. Bristow was a Republican member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902. The Middlesex County Confederate veteran developed an interest in oyster harvesting and took out a patent for deepwater tongs with an associate. He joined the Republican Party and later supported the Readjusters who wished to reduce the antebellum state debt. Becoming one of Readjuster leader William Mahone‘s chief local organizers, Bristow remained the most important Republican in the county for more than thirty years. After unsuccessful attempts at being elected a presidential elector and a congressman, he won a seat to the state constitutional convention from the district of Essex and Middlesex counties. One of only a dozen Republicans in the convention and the only one from east of the mountains, he voted against the restrictive voter-registration provisions that the convention adopted and against the adoption of the constitution. Bristow’s resolution that naturally occurring oyster beds be held as a public trust did evolve into a section of the new constitution.
William F. Broaddus was a Baptist minister. Born in what would later become Rappahannock County, he was educated there and in 1824 ordained as the pastor of the F. T. Baptist Church. Two years later he moved to Frederick County and advocated the work of traveling missionaries against the opposition of those who feared they would corrupt the principles of individual salvation. Broaddus’s proposal that money be raised to evangelize among the poor led the Ketocton Baptist Association to deny him a seat and the Columbia Baptist Association, at least temporarily, to bar him from its conference. Broaddus eventually moved to Kentucky, then worked as an agent raising funds for Columbian College (later George Washington University) in Washington, D.C. In 1853, he became the pastor of Fredericksburg Baptist Church. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), he was briefly imprisoned by the U.S. Army as a Confederate sympathizer. From 1863 to 1868 he served as pastor of the Charlottesville Baptist Church before returning to Fredericksburg. He died there in 1876.
Sarah Ann Brock, a writer who often published under the pseudonym Virginia Madison, published numerous editorials, historical articles, reviews, essays, letters, travel sketches, short stories, biographies, and translations in her career. She is best known for her memoir of life in Richmond during the American Civil War (1861–1865), Richmond During the War: Four Years of Personal Observation (1867). Published anonymously, the book, which is still in print, offers intelligent analysis and detailed description of the Confederate capital in wartime. In addition, Brock edited a collection of southern poetry about the war, in which she contributed verse about Confederate general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Brock also published a novel, Kenneth, My King (1873) modeled after Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre; however, it was poorly reviewed, and after Brock married in 1882, her literary output diminished. She died in 1911.
William Brockenbrough was a justice of the Court of Appeals (1834–1838), a General Court judge (1809–1834), a member of the Council of State (1803–1806), and a representative to the House of Delegates from Essex (1801–1803) and Hanover (1807–1809) counties. A respected member of the state judiciary, Brockenbrough also wrote and published a number of influential articles that defended the states’ rights interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and federal system and criticized the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall. Throughout his adult life, Brockenbrough was identified as a member of the so-called Richmond Junto, a political clique of Virginia conservatives.
William H. Brodnax was a member of the House of Delegates (1818–1819, 1830–1833) and of the Virginia constitutional convention of 1829. A native of Brunswick County, he studied and then practiced law in Petersburg and lived on a 1,600-acre plantation in Dinwiddie County. During the constitutional convention, he supported policies that extended white male suffrage while retaining most political advantages enjoyed by eastern Virginians over their western counterparts. As a brigadier general of the state militia, he led the welcoming escort of the marquis de Lafayette in 1824 and, in 1831, commanded the forces that put down Nat Turner’s Rebellion. During the debate on slavery in the ensuing session of the General Assembly, he chaired a select committee and proposed a plan to colonize the state’s free and enslaved African Americans. A member of the Whig Party and a supporter of states’ rights, he died of cholera in 1834.
George Brooke was a member of the House of Burgesses (1765, 1771, 1774), the Convention of 1776, and the Senate of Virginia (1776–1779), and served as treasurer of Virginia from 1779 until his death. Born in King William County, he moved to King and Queen County after his marriage and formed a mercantile partnership with one of his wife’s relatives. He earned a reputation as a reliable businessman and was involved in settling the controversial and politically sensitive estate of Speaker John Robinson. During the American Revolution (1775–1783) he sat in the Revolutionary Conventions, although he missed the vote for independence in 1776, and was paymaster to several Virginia regiments. At the end of his life he served as treasurer of Virginia, helping to supervise the transfer of the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond and to keep the state’s fiscal affairs intact during British raids in 1781. He died in 1782.
Albert R. Brooks was a Richmond businessman who thrived before the American Civil War (1861–1865) despite his enslavement. In the antebellum years Brooks took advantage of the common though illegal practice of earning wages for his work, which he then invested in an eating house and a prosperous hack and livery stable. Between 1862 and 1865 Brooks managed to purchase his freedom, his wife’s, and that of most of their children. After the war Brooks became a community leader. He helped halt the revival of slavery-era pass laws that governed African American movement in the city and sat on the racially mixed jury that considered Jefferson Davis‘s treason charges. He was also active in the state’s nascent Republican Party. Brooks retreated from political activity in 1868, possibly worried that his white customers would boycott his businesses, but continued to support universal suffrage, equal justice, public education, black uplift, and civil rights. Brooks died in 1881 and is probably buried in Richmond’s Union Mechanics Cemetery.
Lucy Goode Brooks played the primary role in establishing the Friends’ Asylum for Colored Orphans, an orphanage for African American children in Richmond, after the American Civil War (1861–1865). Born into slavery, she married Albert Royal Brooks, whose master allowed him to operate a livery stable and eating house. Although he eventually purchased his freedom and that of Lucy Brooks and several of their children, one daughter was sold by her owner to bondage in Tennessee. After Emancipation former slaves flocked to Richmond to look for missing family members. Having lost one of her own children to the slave trade, Lucy Brooks had a special concern for the plight of parentless children. She worked with the Ladies Sewing Circle for Charitable Work, a local Society of Friends meeting, and several black churches to create an orphanage. In March 1872 the General Assembly incorporated the Friends’ Asylum for Colored Orphans, which remained in operation for almost sixty years. Brooks died in Richmond in 1900.
Robert Peel Brooks was one of Richmond’s first African American lawyers and a Republican Party leader. Born into slavery, he was manumitted in 1862 and graduated from Howard University’s law school in 1875. While practicing law in Richmond he also edited the Richmond Virginia Star. Brooks became involved in politics and was elected secretary of the Republican State Central Committee in 1880. Initially siding with the Funders, who advocated full payment of the state’s prewar debt, he came to support the Readjusters, who sought adjustment of the debt, because they promoted black political participation. He contracted typhoid fever in 1882 and died not long before his twenty-ninth birthday.
Abram Brown was a Baptist lay leader in Charles City County who helped found Elam Baptist Church in 1818. Born free, Brown farmed on land he inherited from his father and was wealthy compared to most African Americans of his day. He joined a Baptist church in Petersburg but soon after established a separate church on his Charles City County land and took a leadership role in his local religious community. In 1818 he transferred the land to the church, thus taking credit as founder of Elam Baptist Church. Little else is known about Brown’s life. He had at least eight children, many of whom, along with their own children and grandchildren, played important roles in the African American community of Charles City County. Brown died in 1840.
Edward W. Brown was a politician, editor, and minister. Born into slavery, he became his church’s clerk at age twelve and later taught school in Prince George County. Brown was among the last successful African American politicians in the nineteenth century, serving as the county’s commissioner of revenue from 1887 to 1895. He moved to Richmond the year after he left office, where he worked for the Grand Fountain United Order of True Reformers, a fraternal beneficiary organization. Eventually becoming editor of its weekly newspaper, the Reformer, Brown promoted the order’s various enterprises while condemning the new segregation laws. The organization’s finances collapsed in 1910, causing the removal of its officers. Brown became a Baptist preacher, but left the ministry in the mid-1920s to join his son’s real estate and insurance agency in Norfolk. He died in 1929.
Goodman Brown represented Prince George and Surry counties in the House of Delegates. He came from a free, property-owning African American family. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Brown served in the U.S. Navy as a cabin boy aboard the USS Maratanza. In the 1870s he became involved in politics and later was an ally of Readjuster leader William Mahone. As chairman of the Surry County Readjuster Committee, Brown used his relationship with Mahone to seek patronage positions for local men. When the Readjuster Party ceased to exist, Brown followed Mahone into the Republican Party. Winning the party’s nomination for the local House of Delegates seat in 1887, he soundly defeated his Democratic opponent in the general election. Although he did not seek reelection in 1889, Brown remained one of Surry County’s most important African American citizens.
Thomas H. Brown was a civic leader of African American communities in Petersburg and Hopewell. A child laborer, Brown worked his way up the social and financial ladder by joining civic associations and learning the undertaker’s trade. In 1893, he organized the People’s Memorial Cemetery Association to save Petersburg’s African American cemetery from deteriorating conditions and a possible foreclosure. Brown opened a funeral home in Hopewell about 1916 and remained involved with the locality during its World War I boom years. He was a civic leader in Petersburg and across the state for the rest of his life, continuing his involvement with the cemetery. The burial ground fell into disrepair after his death in 1952 but was revived after Petersburg took possession of it in 1986. Four years later People’s Memorial Cemetery formally opened as a city-owned historic site.
John Brown represented Southampton County at the Convention of 1867–1868, called to rewrite Virginia’s constitution. Brown was born enslaved, and before Emancipation his wife and children were sold and taken to Mississippi. How and why he entered politics after the American Civil War (1861–1865) is unknown, but he inspired a remarkable voter turnout during elections for the convention. White moderates who had been Whigs before the war sought African American support for the convention balloting. In an astonishing display of group cohesion, almost 98 percent of registered black men appeared at the polls on October 22, 1867. Brown received all 1,242 black voters to defeat his two white opponents. The turnout and support for Brown was a remarkable event in the county where Nat Turner’s Rebellion of 1831 took place. Brown’s political career did not continue after the convention. He likely never learned to read or write and died sometime between 1900 and 1910.
George O. Brown established a family-run photography studio that recorded African American life in Richmond for seventy years. Brown, probably born enslaved, was working in the photography business by age nineteen old. He opened his own studio in 1899 and moved it to Jackson Ward, the center of Richmond’s African American community, in 1905. Two years later his skills earned him a silver medal at the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition. Along with his children, Brown became the most important visual chronicler of Richmond’s African American population, documenting community life at schools, colleges, sporting events, and fraternal meetings. The studio took thousands of portraits of ordinary citizens and famed figures such as Maggie Lena Walker and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Brown died in 1910, but his photography business continued to operate until 1969.
William Washington Browne was a slave, a Union solder during the American Civil War (1861–1865), a teacher, a Methodist minister, and the founder of Richmond‘s Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers, an African American fraternal organization. As leader of the True Reformers, Browne strived to help members live productive lives without depending upon the white community. By establishing insurance that provided members with sick and death benefits and by encouraging members to purchase land and engage in practices of temperance and thrift, Browne believed that blacks in the post–Civil War South could thrive. Browne’s enterprising mind helped lead the True Reformers in creating and organizing a bank which became the nation’s first chartered black financial institution and a model that others, such as Maggie Lena Walker, would follow. Browne died in 1897 and the True Reformers initially continued to prosper, but the order collapsed in the wake of the scandalous failure of its bank in 1910.
James Coles Bruce was a planter, a member of the House of Delegates (1831–1834), and a member of the Convention of 1861. Born in Halifax County, he studied law at the University of Virginia before returning home to farm. In the House of Delegates, during the slavery debate of 1831–1832, he described slavery as a necessary evil and denounced efforts to abolish it. He himself owned probably more slaves than any other legislator. After his term he commissioned the building of Berry Hill, a grand mansion modeled after the Parthenon, and participated in public conversations about how the South’s agricultural economy might be stimulated. Bruce suggested crop rotation, diversification, better use of capital and credit, and the sale of surplus slaves. He also advocated for the establishment of a state system of public schools open equally to men and women. One of the wealthiest men in the country. Bruce represented Halifax County at the Convention of 1861, called to consider whether Virginia should secede from the Union. He gave speeches in favor of states’ rights and against abolitionism and eventually voted to secede. Bruce died in 1865.
Philip Alexander Bruce was a historian whose five-volume account of seventeenth-century Virginia history continues to be cited as an important work of scholarship. Born in Charlotte County into an accomplished family, Bruce studied law at the University of Virginia and at Harvard but found his calling in scholarship. He wrote briefly for the Richmond Times before joining the Virginia Historical Society and, in 1893, helping to found its quarterly journal, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Her served as the magazine’s first editor from 1893 until 1898. Bruce’s own work often focused on social and economic history, seeking the origins of the New South while often marginalizing African Americans. His five volumes on seventeenth-century Virginia, published between 1896 and 1910, included two on economic history, one on social life, and two on institutions such as the church, the courts, and the General Assembly. Bruce also served as the University of Virginia’s centennial historian, writing a five-volume history of the school’s founding and first hundred years. He died in 1933 at his home in Charlottesville.
Albert V. Bryan was a federal district court and circuit court of appeals judge during a crucial period in the fight over public school desegregation. After serving as the commonwealth’s attorney in Alexandria from 1928 until 1947, he was appointed a federal judge of the Eastern District of Virginia. Although he supported segregation Bryan stuck closely to legal precedents established by the U.S. Supreme Court. He ruled in favor of continued school segregation in 1952. After Brown v. Board of Education reversed his ruling in 1954, however, Bryan began following the new precedent, though in a manner that slowed implementation. His subsequent decisions on Massive Resistance delayed, but did not stop, desegregation of Virginia schools. In 1961 he was appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Adhering again to Supreme Court precedent, in 1969 Bryan struck down state tuition grants to students attending segregated private schools. He retired from the federal bench in 1971 and died in 1984.
C. Braxton Bryan was an Episcopal minister and a proponent of African American education. Between 1893 and 1905, while serving as minister of Saint John’s Church in Hampton, he developed an interest in the students at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, which was founded to educate African Americans and Native Americans. At Hampton, Bryan also helped establish Saint Cyprian’s Church, the city’s first African American Episcopal congregation. Early in 1905 he moved to Petersburg and was elected dean and principal of the Bishop Payne Divinity School, the oldest theological seminary for the education of African American Episcopal clergymen in the South. Bryan, who believed that whites were a superior race, felt that Christian beliefs helped improve the lives of black Virginians and saw the promotion of African American education and spirituality as his responsibility.
Daniel Bryan was a poet, a lawyer, and a member of the Senate of Virginia (1818–1820) representing Rockingham and Shenandoah counties. Publishing his works in periodicals and short books, he wrote in a neoclassical style that was fashionable at the beginning of his literary career but that had fallen out of favor by the end of his life. He corresponded with several important figures of his day, including Edgar Allan Poe, who praised Bryan’s verse. Bryan is now remembered chiefly for his epic about Daniel Boone, a minor poem that provides a wealth of information about American ideals and aspirations early in the nineteenth century. As a Virginia senator, Bryan opposed slavery and during the American Civil War (1861–1865), he was a staunch Unionist. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1866.
John Stewart Bryan was a Richmond newspaper publisher and president of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. The son of a wealthy and influential newspaper publisher, Bryan went into the family business after briefly practicing law. In 1900, he began work as a reporter at the Richmond Dispatch, owned by his father, Joseph Bryan, and within a year was vice president of the holding company. Upon his father’s death in 1908, he became president of the company and owner and publisher of the Richmond News Leader. There he hired as editor Douglas Southall Freeman, who went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes for his historical writing. In 1934, Bryan became president of the College of William and Mary and worked to broaden the school’s curriculum and strengthening its reputation as a liberal arts college. Problems at one of the school’s affiliates, in Norfolk, however, caused a suspension of the college’s national accreditation in 1941. Citing poor health and the need for new leadership, Bryan resigned in 1942 and died in Richmond two years later.
Joseph Bryan was a journalist and writer who was born into the influential Bryan family of newspaper publishers and industrialists. He edited and wrote for many national publications, including the family-owned Richmond News Leader and Chicago Daily Journal, as well as Parade, Time, Fortune, Town and Country, Reader’s Digest, the Saturday Evening Post, and the New Yorker. He wrote numerous articles on travel, humor, and celebrities, some of which evolved into books or reappeared as portions of his books. He served in all three branches of the U.S. military: first as a lieutenant in the field artillery of the army following his graduation from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, then in the navy during World War II (1939–1945) as a lieutenant commander assigned to naval air combat intelligence in the Pacific, and later as a lieutenant colonel in the air force. He also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency from the late 1940s until 1953. He lived in Washington, D.C., and at Brook Hill, an ancestral home in Henrico County.
Archibald C. Buchanan was a judge on the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals who authored the majority opinions in Naim v. Naim (1955), which upheld the state’s antimiscegenation laws, and Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward (1963), which upheld a county’s right to close public schools rather than integrate them. The latter case was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court a year later. Buchanan was born in Tazewell County and educated at Hampden-Sydney College and Washington and Lee University before beginning his law practice. He joined the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 1946 and was generally a conservative presence there. In 1959, however, he voted with the majority in Harrison v. Day, striking down Virginia’s plan of Massive Resistance. Buchanan retired in 1969 and died ten years later.
John Buchanan was an Episcopal clergyman who served as the rector of Henrico Parish (1785–1822) and the treasurer of the Diocese of Virginia (1793–1822). Born in Scotland, he may have attended university there and received his license to minister in Virginia in 1775. A decade later he became rector of Henrico Parish and, after inheriting a large estate from his half brother, lived an easy and social life. Buchanan, who preached at Saint John’s Church in Richmond, was famously close friends with the Presbyterian minister John D. Blair, and after the Richmond Theatre fire in 1811 the two helped raise money for the construction of Monumental Church on the site of the disaster. While they may have intended to share the church, the Episcopalians appropriated it for themselves. Buchanan died in 1822.
Carrie Buck was the first person involuntarily sterilized under Virginia’s eugenics laws. In 1920 her mother was diagnosed as feebleminded—a diagnosis based less on a medical finding than on the doctors’ perception of her sexual behavior—and committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded in Lynchburg. Buck moved in with a foster family and in 1923 became pregnant, claiming that the foster family’s nephew raped her. The teenager was similarly deemed epileptic and feebleminded and placed at the colony after she gave birth in 1924. The colony’s superintendent decided to use Buck as a test case for the state’s new sterilization law. In Buck v. Bell (1927), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Virginia’s law was constitutional and that Buck should be sterilized. Her sterilization was the first of approximately 8,300 performed under state law between 1927 and 1972. After her release from the colony Buck, in sharp contrast to her diagnosis, lived an active life until her death in 1983.
Richard Bucke was an Anglican minister who came to Jamestown in 1610, may have performed the marriage ceremony for Pocahontas and John Rolfe in 1614, and in 1619 opened with prayer the first legislative assembly in Virginia. Born and educated in England, Bucke was delayed on his way to Virginia by a storm and spent almost ten months in Bermuda. For a time he was the only minister in Jamestown, and his experiences in the colony seem to have been difficult. His date of death appears to have been around 1624.
Horace B. Burnham was an officer in the U.S. Army during the American Civil War (1861–1865); chief judge advocate of Military District One, the army unit that administered Virginia during Reconstruction; judge of the Richmond City Hustings Court (1867–1869); and justice of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (1869–1870). Burnham grew up in Pennsylvania, where he studied and practiced law before the war. He presided over the Supreme Court of Appeals as Virginia transitioned back to civilian rule. The legitimacy of the court, and his position on it, was called into question early in 1870, when Congress passed an act ending Reconstruction in Virginia and implementing a new state constitution under which the General Assembly would select new judges. The military court prevailed against a legal challenge, but by then Burnham had been thrown out of the body. He remained a military justice in courts across the country until 1888, when he retired to his Henrico County estate. He died in 1894 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Anthony Burns was a fugitive slave from Virginia who, while living in Boston in 1854, became the principal in a famous court case brought in an effort to extradite him back to the South. Born in Stafford County, Burns was the property of the merchant Charles F. Suttle, who later hired him out to William Brent, of Falmouth. In 1854, Burns escaped slavery and traveled to Boston, where he wrote a letter back to one of his brothers. Intercepted by Suttle, the letter revealed Burns’s whereabouts, and Suttle and Brent themselves traveled to Boston and claimed Burns under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The subsequent rendition trial sparked the interest of antislavery activists, and an attempt at freeing Burns by force killed a federal marshal. Burns eventually lost his case and was sold to a man in North Carolina. Boston activists later purchased his freedom, however, and he attended school in Ohio and lectured on his experiences. He ended up in Canada, where he died in 1862 from health problems related to his post-trial confinement.
Carter Burwell was a key member of the House of Burgesses who built Carter’s Grove plantation. The heir of substantial estates from both his father and his grandfather Robert “King” Carter, he became a powerful figure in James City County politics. The constituency’s voters elected him to the House of Burgesses in 1742. He served until 1755, chairing the influential Committee of Privileges and Elections and working as an important ally of John Robinson, the body’s powerful speaker. He is best known for the Georgian home he had built at Carter’s Grove, considered an important example of the era’s architecture.
Lewis Burwell, often referred to as President Lewis Burwell to distinguish him from others of the same name, was a member of the governor’s Council (1743–1756) and served as acting governor of Virginia for a year beginning in November 1750. Born in Gloucester County to a prominent family that included Robert “King” Carter, Burwell was educated in England before returning to Virginia and serving in the House of Burgesses (1742). The next year, George II appointed him to the Council, and in 1750, he became the body’s senior member. With the governor and lieutenant governor away from Virginia at the time, this made him president, or acting governor. During his year as president, the General Assembly never met, but Burwell did commission the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia. Ill health limited his role in later years, and he died in 1756.
Lewis Burwell was a merchant and founder of the Burwell family in Virginia, which held great prominence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The nephew of two colonists of the early Jamestown settlement, Burwell established himself in the colony by 1641. Within a decade he owned or co-owned at least 7,250 acres. He also held land and rent that he inherited from his stepfather, Roger Wingate, who served on the governor’s Council from 1640 to 1642. Burwell began the family practice of using advantageous marriages to increase power and property, and he established the family’s longstanding seat at Carter’s Creek in Gloucester County.
Lewis Burwell built a significant mansion at his Kingsmill Plantation in James City County. A major landholder in Isle of Wight, James City, King William, and York counties, he became a naval officer and collected customs fees at what became known as Burwell’s Ferry. The largesse allowed him to build his home near where his nephew Carter Burwell would construct Carter’s Grove. Kingsmill was an important example of Virginia‘s Georgian architecture, though it burned in the 1840s.
Lewis Burwell, a planter, was a member of the House of Burgesses (1769–1776), the Convention of 1776, and the House of Delegates (1776–1778). The descendant of Robert “King” Carter inherited more than 10,000 acres after the death of his father, but the recession of the early 1770s delivered a major blow to his financial health. He suffered additional damages from claims upon his landed wealth. Despite these issues, he raced horses at considerable expense. Gloucester County’s freeholders elected Burwell to the House of Burgesses in 1769. He served in the House and its successors as it transitioned from a colonial to state governmental body, taking part in the Convention of 1776 and sitting in the House of Delegates. His death by 1779 and his poor financial standing ended the Burwell family’s long residence at Fairfield.
Lucy Burwell is best known for rejecting the fervent and sometimes menacing courtship of Governor Sir Francis Nicholson. The teenaged daughter of a key Virginia family chose to marry Edmund Berkeley, twelve years her senior, instead of the forty-five-year-old governor. Humiliated by this rejection, Nicholson taunted and threatened the Burwells and their allies among Virginia’s elite. These actions, along with his attempted reforms of the colony’s politics, led to a petition against Nicholson. Queen Anne ultimately removed him from office. In exercising her prerogative to choose her own husband, Burwell became a symbol of Virginia’s opposition to heavy-handed rule. She bore Berkeley at least five children before her death in 1716.
Nathaniel Burwell was appointed to the James City County Court, served in the county militia, represented James City County in the House of Delegates (1778–1779), and was elected to the Convention of 1788 to consider the proposed constitution of the United States. The son of Carter Burwell, Nathaniel Burwell spent part of his adulthood at Carter’s Grove plantation in James City County. He was a major landholder in the region, owning small industrial operations such as an iron forge and two gristmills. Later he built Carter Hall in what became Clarke County.
Robert Burwell was a member of the House of Burgesses (1752–1758), representing Isle of Wight County, and the governor’s Council (1762–1776). Active in land development, he was a trustee of the town of Smithfield and an investor in the Dismal Swamp Company. His appointment to the governor’s Council in 1762 aroused anger among his contemporaries because of Burwell’s bad temper and rumored mental deficiencies. His service on the Council allayed these fears, and he served throughout the remainder of the colonial period. Like many of his contemporaries, he experienced financial difficulties in the 1770s. For unknown reasons he took no part in the government formed by the new commonwealth of Virginia in 1776.
Israel L. Butt played a key role in expanding and overseeing the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Virginia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born in Norfolk County, Butt escaped slavery and joined the Union army, where he learned to read and underwent a religious experience. He was ordained in 1881 and graduated with a theology degree from what later became Hampton University. Butt ministered and oversaw different districts of the denomination. Through his work, he became a school principal and served as a trustee or board member of educational institutions in Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. Butt researched and wrote History of African Methodism in Virginia, or Four Decades in the Old Dominion, which was published in 1908.
Patsy Cline was a singer whose biggest hits—”Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” and “Crazy”—embody the so-called Nashville Sound, a synthesis of country and popular music. Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Cline began singing professionally to help support her family. She rose to national fame in 1957 after winning a talent competition on a television variety show by singing “Walkin’ After Midnight.” She joined the Grand Ole Opry as a regular cast member in January 1960, and in January 1962 began appearing as the second-billed performer in a concert tour organized by Johnny Cash. Cline died at age thirty in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, in 1963, and became a musical icon in the decades following her death. In 1973 she became the first solo woman performer to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
Martha Haines Butt was a novelist, poet, and essayist who in 1853 became one of five southern women to respond to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) with a novel of her own. Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South (1853) defended slavery as moral and Christian, but it never achieved the critical or popular success that Stowe or even the other rebuttals received. A Norfolk native, Butt continued to write, contributing to both regional and national magazines. She championed women’s intellectual engagement but criticized efforts on behalf of women’s rights, generally affirming the traditional role of women. Late in her life, however, she became involved in the woman suffrage movement and served as vice president of the Virginia State Woman Suffrage Association in 1870. Butt died of pneumonia a year later.
William Byrd, sometimes referred to as William Byrd III of Westover to distinguish him from relatives of the same name, was a planter, soldier, a member of the House of Burgesses (1754–1756), and a member of the governor’s Council (1756–1775). Born at the family estate of Westover, in Charles City County, Byrd studied law in England, where he gambled and began to accumulate debts that would last a lifetime. He wed Elizabeth Carter upon his return, but the marriage was unhappy and she died of a probable suicide in 1760. By then Byrd had been forced to sell off large parts of his estate, Belvidere, to settle debts. He also served in the military during this time, traveling widely and commanding first the 2nd Virginia Regiment and then succeeding George Washington at the head of the 1st. He married a second time, in 1761, and when the American Revolution (1775–1783) began, offered his services to the king. Dunmore’s Proclamation (1775), which offered freedom to slaves who fought for the British, changed his loyalties. Commands were not offered, however, and in January 1777, Byrd killed himself.
William Byrd, also known as William Byrd I, was an Indian trader, explorer, member of the House of Burgesses (1679–1682), member of the governor’s Council (1683–1704), and auditor- and receiver-general (1688–1704). Inheriting the bulk of his uncle’s Virginia estate, Byrd spent his early years as an Indian trader and explorer. Early in 1676, his trade was cut off after Indian attacks, and he helped to persuade his partner, Nathaniel Bacon, to take unlawful command of a militia and lead it against the Indians. Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) resulted, but Byrd switched his loyalties to Governor Sir William Berkeley, opening the way for his political career. Elected to the House of Burgesses in 1677, Byrd commanded defense forces at the falls of the James River and operated as one of the most important Indian traders of the seventeenth century. He became an ally of Governor Thomas Culpeper, baron Culpeper of Thoresway, who appointed him to the Council in 1683. Five years later, after much lobbying, he received the combined posts of auditor- and receiver-general, putting him in charge of both collecting and maintaining all the colony’s royal revenue. In the absence of Governor Francis Nicholson, he served three stints as president, or acting governor, of the colony. Byrd died in Charles City County in 1704.
J. L. Cabell was a medical educator and public health advocate. Likely born in Nelson County, he attended the University of Virginia and received his medical degree from the University of Maryland in Baltimore. In 1837, he became a professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Virginia, teaching for more than fifty years, until 1889. In 1859, Cabell published a treatise arguing that all people, even those of supposedly inferior races, descended from a single creation. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Cabell served as the surgeon in charge of the Confederate military hospitals in Charlottesville and Danville. After the war, he helped to found the Medical Society of Virginia and served as its president from 1876 to 1877. He was the first president of the Virginia State Board of Health, and in 1879 became president of the new National Board of Health. Cabell died in 1889.
James Branch Cabell was the author of fifty-two books, including fantasy and science fiction novels, comedies of manners about post-bellum Richmond, works of genealogy, collections of short stories, essays, and poetry. His best-known book, Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice (1919), was about an eponymous hero who travels to heaven, hell, and beyond, seducing women and even the devil’s wife. Denounced by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, it became the subject of a landmark, two-year obscenity case following its publication. The novel eventually was deemed fit to be read, and its subsequent popularity propelled Cabell to literary fame. His most comprehensive project, however, is the sprawling, eighteen-volume collection known as the Biography of the Life of Manuel (1927–1930), of which Jurgen is a part. Comprised of novels, essays, and poetry, it traces the life of Manuel, Count of Poictesme (a fictional French province, pronounced “pwa-tem”), and generations of his descendants. While some of Cabell’s novels—especially those that are science fiction and fantasy—have achieved cult status, his work fell out of favor beginning in the 1930s. By the time of his death in 1958, he was known primarily as the author of the scandalous Jurgen.
Joseph C. Cabell was member of the House of Delegates (1808–1810, 1831–1835) and the Senate of Virginia (1810–1829) and served as president of the James River and Kanawha Company (1835–1846). He also served as rector of the University of Virginia from 1834 to 1836 and again from 1845 to 1856. Born in Amherst County, Cabell studied law, including under St. George Tucker, whose stepdaughter he later married. Rather than practice, he embarked on a political career as a Jeffersonian Republican. He made little mark in the General Assembly, however, until in 1815 his friend Thomas Jefferson tapped him to lead the legislative fight to charter and fund Central College, or what later became the University of Virginia. Cabell successfully argued both for the need of a state university and for its establishment near Charlottesville. After his retirement from the assembly, Cabell leveraged his interest in economic development into leadership of the James River and Kanawha Company, which sought to build a canal between Richmond and the Ohio River. The canal reached only as far as Buchanan, in Botetourt County, and Cabell resigned the company’s presidency in 1846. He died at his plantation in Nelson County a decade later.
William H. Cabell was the governor of Virginia (1805–1808) and, for four decades, a justice of the Virginia Court of Appeals (1811–1852). A Democratic-Republican, he represented Amherst County in the House of Delegates (1796–1799, 1802–1805) and sat on the General Court prior to being appointed to the Court of Appeals. Cabell was deliberate and thorough, as governor and in his judicial career. Although he rarely filed a separate opinion during his time on the Court of Appeals, he was known to reverse a previous decision. When he retired in 1852 because of his poor health, Cabell was among the longest-serving judges in the history of the state supreme court. Cabell County, created in 1809 and now part of West Virginia, is named for him. He died in 1853.
Alfred Caldwell was the mayor of Wheeling, a member of the Senate of Virginia (1857–1861), and a Republican Party leader who denounced slavery before and during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Born in Ohio and educated in Pennsylvania, he settled in Wheeling and practiced law there. Caldwell was an outspoken antislavery activist who supported Abraham Lincoln during the election of 1860. After a term in the Senate of Virginia, he served as U.S. consul to the kingdom of Hawaii. He was suspended in 1867 for mishandling finances. He died the next year in Wheeling.
James Thomson Callender was a partisan journalist known for attacking Federalists but also his one-time Republican ally, Thomas Jefferson. Born in Scotland, Callender was a Scottish nationalist who published pamphlets critical of the British government. When a warrant was issued for his arrest, he fled first to Ireland and then, in 1793, to Philadelphia. There he wrote newspaper items critical of the administrations of George Washington and John Adams and a pamphlet that exposed an extramarital affair by Alexander Hamilton. After the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, Callender, who had moved to Richmond by this time, published another pamphlet critical of President Adams. In the spring of 1800 he was tried and convicted of sedition in Richmond and served nine months in jail. When Jefferson was elected president in 1801, Callender expected to be rewarded with a political position. When he was not, he turned on his former ally, accusing the president of having fathered children by his enslaved servant Sally Hemings. Callender purchased part ownership of the Richmond Recorder newspaper, but quit after quarrels with his coeditor. He accidentally drowned in the James River in 1803.
Christopher Calthorpe became a successful early settler in Virginia. He arrived in 1622 and lived with the colony’s treasurer, George Sandys. He stumbled in his first few years, but Calthorpe began purchasing land at decade’s end. He became a captain of the local militia and ended his career as a colonel. Calthorpe represented York and Elizabeth City counties in the House of Burgesses before leaving Virginia in 1660 or 1661.
William E. Cameron was a veteran of the American Civil War (1861–1865), a journalist, a governor of Virginia (1882–1886), and a member of the Convention of 1901–1902. Cameron served in the Confederate army during the war, then worked as a journalist in Petersburg and Richmond, supporting the Conservative Party. Beginning in 1876, he was elected to three consecutive two-year terms as the mayor of Petersburg. Later in the 1870s he began to side with the Readjusters, a faction that sought to adjust the payment of Virginia’s prewar debt. He won the governorship as a nominee of the Readjuster-Republican coalition in 1881. Cameron and the Readjusters issued a series of reforms, including repealing the poll tax, but his aggressive use of political patronage angered voters and his opponents. The revived Democratic Party, capitalizing on white supremacy and the electorate’s unease over Cameron’s tactics, took over the General Assembly in 1883. Cameron left politics after completing his term, but was elected in 1901 to a state constitutional convention. He played an influential role, advocating provisions that strengthened the governor’s authority to discharge subordinate officials; defending legislative election of judges; and supporting reinstating the poll tax and other restrictions that disfranchised African American voters. Cameron returned to journalism in 1906, editing the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot until 1919. He died in Louisa County in 1927.
Archibald W. Campbell was a journalist, abolitionist, and Republican Party leader. Born in Ohio, he grew up in western Virginia and studied law in New York, where he met the abolitionist and future secretary of state William H. Seward. Campbell followed Seward into the Republican Party and in 1856 purchased the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, making it the most influential Virginia newspaper outside Richmond. During the American Civil War (1861–1865) Campbell helped lead the movement for the creation of West Virginia but fell out with many Republican Party leaders after the war. He never sought public office and died in 1899.
Joseph T. Campbell was a lawyer, commonwealth’s attorney for Washington County (1863–1865), and a member of the Convention of 1867–1868. Born in Washington County and educated at the University of Virginia, Campbell practiced law in Abingdon. At the start of the American Civil War (1861–1865) he accepted a commission and served briefly in the 37th Virginia Infantry Regiment before falling ill. He returned home and served as commonwealth’s attorney. After the war Campbell was elected to represent Smyth and Washington counties at a state constitutional convention and was a conservative voice during the proceedings. He voted against the constitution that was ratified in 1869. He died in 1876.
Preston W. Campbell was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902, commonwealth’s attorney for Washington County (1911–1914), a judge of the Twenty-third Circuit (1914–1924), and a judge on the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (1924–1946), serving as the court’s chief justice from 1931 until his retirement. Born in Abingdon, Campbell studied law there and practiced in the town for fourteen years. At the Convention of 1901–1902, called in large part to disenfranchise Virginia’s blacks and poor whites, he supported the depoliticizing of county school superintendents but spoke little during the proceedings. As a Supreme Court justice he penned 528 opinions, the most memorable of which was his solo dissent in Staples v. Gilmer (1945). Campbell argued that in calling a constitutional convention, the General Assembly could not place limits on what the delegates considered. Campbell retired from the bench in 1946 and died in 1954.
David Canada served as a member of the Convention of 1867–1868, though little about his life is known. Born enslaved, he worked as a Halifax County stonemason. He won election to the constitutional convention with widespread support from African American throughout the county. Although largely silent during the proceedings, Canada spoke in favor of the proposed constitution in meetings around the county. At one speech in July 1868, African Americans and whites began fighting. In the aftermath he reported that a group of whites threatened to kill him. The Halifax County military commissioner investigated the incident, but could not find evidence of violent intimidation and then placed Canada in jail. A grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict him. Canada ran for the House of Delegates in the 1869 election, but a coalition of moderate Republicans and Conservatives swept the county’s three seats. Canada disappeared from the public record after his defeat.
John S. Carlile was a member of the Convention of 1850–1851, the U.S. House of Representatives (1856–1858), the Convention of 1861, the First and Second Wheeling Conventions of 1861, and the United States Senate (1861–1865). As an active and outspoken participant in the Convention of 1850, he supported democratic reforms that invested western Virginia with more political power. In Congress, he supported the rights of slave owners, but as a delegate to the state convention during the secession crisis of 1861, he vehemently opposed leaving the Union, calling secession “a crime against God.” The convention voted to secede anyway, and during the American Civil War (1861–1865), Carlile became a U.S. senator representing the Restored government of Virginia. In Washington, D.C., he helped shepherd the West Virginia statehood bill through Congress, only to vote against it in 1862, citing the bill’s requirement that the new state adopt a plan of gradual emancipation. While Carlile remained in the Senate until 1865, he had so angered—and confused—his new West Virginia constituents that his political career was largely over. He died on his farm near Clarksburg in 1878.
John Carlyle was a merchant and one of the original trustees of the town of Alexandria. Born in England, he apprenticed in the mercantile house of William Hicks before coming to Virginia first in 1739 and then permanently two years later. He eventually developed his own business partnerships, importing coal, convicts, rum, slaves, and sugar, and exporting flour, grain, iron, lumber, and tobacco. He also raised racehorses. Through marriage into the wealthy Fairfax family and friendships with members of the Washington family, Carlyle joined the Ohio Company and sought the creation of a new port town in service of his land interests. In 1749, the General Assembly named him one of eleven trustees of Alexandria, in Fairfax County. Over the next several years he directed the construction of a grand stone Georgian mansion, where he resided for more than twenty-five years, becoming one of the town’s leading citizens. During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Carlyle served as a commissary to Virginia and British forces. During the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) he supported the Patriot cause and lost his only son in battle against the British. He died in 1780.
Miles B. Carpenter was a prominent twentieth-century folk artist. In 1912 Carpenter purchased a factory in the Sussex County town of Waverly, which he turned into a lumber mill. He later added a sawmill and ice business to his enterprise. Carpenter began woodcarving in 1941 but had little time to spend on his work until he closed his lumber mill in the 1950s. The artist began sculpting animals and then people, utilizing both whittling and assemblage. By the 1970s Carpenter’s work drew the attention of collectors, and he began exhibiting his works in one-man shows. His autobiography Cutting the Mustard was published in 1982.
David Green Carr served as a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and the Senate of Virginia (1869–1871). He was born in Otsego County, New York, in 1809 and purchased a Dinwiddie County farm in 1853. He became active in Virginia’s Republican Party after the American Civil War, and in 1867 Dinwiddie and Prince George county voters elected him as one of their two representatives to the state constitutional convention. He voted in favor of the new constitution, which included such reforms as universal manhood suffrage and the establishment of a public school system. In 1869 Carr, a member of the party’s radical faction, won a seat in the state senate. He became Petersburg’s collector of customs in 1870. He left the position by 1874, but he reacquired the job in 1877 and held it until his death in 1883.
Peter Carr was a justice of the peace for Albemarle County, a representative to the House of Delegates (1801–1804, 1807–1808), an educator, and a founding trustee of Albemarle Academy, which later evolved into the University of Virginia. He was also the nephew of Thomas Jefferson and lived at Monticello as a young man. Carr is perhaps best known for the assertion, made by Thomas Jefferson Randolph after Carr’s death, that he or his brother Samuel Carr had fathered at least six children with Sally Hemings, Jefferson’s enslaved house servant, between 1795 and 1808. For this reason, Peter Carr was often accepted as the likely father of Hemings’s children until the publication of Annette Gordon-Reed’s monograph Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997), which made a strong case for Jefferson’s paternity, and the 1998 DNA test that concluded that a Jefferson male, not Carr or his brother, had fathered Eston Hemings, the youngest son of Sally Hemings.
Isaac H. Carrington served as provost marshal of Richmond during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Born in Richmond to an influential family, Carrington practiced law in Pittsylvania County before the war. He served in various staff and administrative positions in the Confederate army before, in 1863, the Confederate Congress appointed him a commissioner of prisoners in Richmond. The next year the secretary of war named him Richmond’s provost marshal with responsibility for issuing passports to all persons leaving the city. Just prior to the Union occupation of Richmond in 1865, Carrington set fire to military stores in the city, but despite taking precautions, the fire spread and destroyed much of the capital. He was later exonerated on charges of misappropriating funds sent by the U.S. government for prisoner relief. After the war Carrington practiced corporate law, served on the University of Virginia board of visitors (1873–1875), and served as president of the Richmond Bar Association (1886–1887). He died in 1887.
A. P. Carter was a song collector and member of the Carter Family, a trio that helped to pioneer what became known as country music. Born in Scott County, in Southwest Virginia, Carter worked as a carpenter and traveling salesman before marrying Sara Dougherty in 1915. Carter’s true passion had always been music, and with his new wife, who sang and played the autoharp, he began to perform and audition to make recordings. With Maybelle Carter—Sara Carter’s first cousin and the wife of A. P. Carter’s brother—the couple formed the Carter Family, recording for the first time at the Bristol Sessions of 1927. The group made nearly 300 records in a career that lasted until the early 1940s, and for several years they performed on ultrahigh-frequency border radio. These broadcasts could be heard across North America and helped make the group nationally famous. Many of the songs the Carter Family performed had been collected and arranged by A. P. Carter, who often spent weeks at a time combing the Virginia countryside for material, absences that, along with the fame, took a toll on his marriage. He and Sara Carter divorced in 1936 but continued to record together until 1941. The next year she moved to California, leaving behind their three children. With the Carter Family dissolved, A. P. Carter returned to Scott County, where he opened a general store, reuniting briefly with his former wife in the 1950s to perform with two of their children. Carter died in 1960 and was buried near Sara Carter in Virginia.
Charles Carter served as a member of the House of Burgesses (1756–1771, 1774–1775), the House of Delegates (1776–1779, 1782–1783), the Senate of Virginia (1789), and the Council of State (1789–1791). The grandson of Robert “King” Carter, he was sometimes referred to as Charles Carter of Ludlow, his Stafford County plantation, to distinguish him from his relatives of the same name. Carter supported the colony‘s opposition to Parliamentary rule, and served in the first four of five Revolutionary Conventions that met between 1774 and 1776. He also supported adopting the Constitution, and influenced its ratification in 1788 when he released a private letter from George Washington endorsing the document. Despite his public service and familial prestige, Carter’s profligate spending resulted in the loss of almost all of his real estate, including Ludlow, before his death in 1796.
Mark Renie (or Réné) DeMortie was an antislavery and Republican Party activist. Born with slave status in Norfolk, his enslaver emancipated him in 1850, a few weeks before his twenty-first birthday. He assisted other men and women who fled slavery by way of the Underground Railroad in Virginia. Between about 1853 and 1868 he lived in Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended antislavery meetings and campaigned for voting rights. By 1870 DeMortie had returned to Virginia, where he owned a factory that extracted oil from sassafras roots to be used in soap and medicine. There he remained politically active, serving on the Republican Party’s state central committee and the Readjuster state committee. In 1874, 1876, and 1882, he unsuccessfully sought election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fourth District. In 1887 he returned to Boston. He died in 1914 in Newport, Rhode Island.
John Custis was a member of the governor’s Council (1677–1692) and the founder of the Custis family in Virginia. He was raised in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1649 or 1650. Custis became wealthy through land speculation, tobacco planting, and facilitating trade between Virginia and the Netherlands and its colonies. Early in the 1670s he built a mansion in Northampton County and named it Arlington; the house was the namesake of Arlington House, the nineteenth-century home of the Washington and Custis families. Custis supported Governor Sir William Berkeley during Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) and was appointed to the governor’s Council in 1677. He retired in 1692 and died in 1696.
John Mercer Langston served as Virginia’s first African American member of Congress (1890–1891) and as the first president of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (later Virginia State University). The son of a white Louisa County planter and the woman he freed, Langston grew up in Ohio, where, as an attorney and local office holder, he helped recruit African American troops during the American Civil War (1861–1865). After the war, his involvement with the Freedmen’s Bureau as inspector of schools brought him back to Virginia. In 1870 Langston became dean of Howard University’s law school and served as acting president of the university from 1873 until 1875. In 1885, the Virginia State Board of Education named Langston president of the new Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. The new school grew under his leadership, but the Democrat-packed board of visitors did not renew his contract two years later. In 1888 he sought the Republican nomination for Congress, but party leader William Mahone engineered his defeat. Langston ran an independent campaign in which a Democrat was named the winner. Langston disputed the election results, however, and eventually Congress seated him for the final months of his term. He lost reelection and returned to Washington, D.C., where he published an autobiography. He died in Washington in 1897.
James W. Hunnicutt, a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868, saw his public career shift during the 1860s from a slavery supporter to a prominent Radical Republican to an ally of the Conservative Party. In 1860 Hunnicutt, a minister and newspaper publisher, voiced his concerns that secession would lead to the American Civil War (1861–1865), and would end slavery. He fled Fredericksburg for Philadelphia in 1862, already evolving into an advocate of African American rights. Settling in Richmond after the Civil War, his actions to help organize freedpeople earned him enemies in the white community. He won election to the Convention of 1867–1868 that wrote the state’s new constitution but his political power soon declined because of increased scrutiny on his prewar support of white supremacy, disenchantment from blacks outside of Richmond, and estrangement from other party leaders. In 1869 he lost a congressional election as a True Republican, a moderate Republican-Conservative coalition, and retired to Stafford County where he died a decade later.
John Carter was secretary of the colony and a member of the governor’s Council. His father, Robert “King” Carter, sent him to England, where he studied law in London, and attended Cambridge. Called to the bar in 1720, Carter was appointed secretary of the colony in June 1722 and he returned to Virginia six months later. As secretary, a lucrative and politically powerful office, Carter was responsible for keeping the colony’s records and appointing all of the county court clerks. Some men, including the lieutenant governor, voiced concerns about the extent of the power of the secretary, but Carter successfully defended his conduct. In 1724 he also became a member of the Council and held both positions until his death. Through marriage and inheritance Carter acquired extensive estates, including Shirley plantation and Corotoman, and became one of Virginia’s wealthiest gentlemen.
Westmoreland Davis was a lawyer and agriculturist who served as governor of Virginia from 1918 to 1922. Born abroad, his family moved to Richmond when he was still young and he attended the Virginia Military Institute and the University of Virginia before studying law in New York. He practiced there until 1903, when he purchased Morven Park, a large estate in Loudoun County. There he studied farming, lobbied on behalf of agricultural groups, and published the Southern Planter magazine from 1912 until his death. Despite lacking experience in electoral politics, Davis won election as governor in 1917, as a Democrat. He presided over the creation of a state highway system and negotiated a truce between union and non-union coal miners in southwestern Virginia. He identified with the Progressive movement and distrusted the Democratic machine run by Thomas Staples Martin, Claude A. Swanson, and, later, Harry F. Byrd Sr. He attempted to break the organization by running against Swanson for the U.S. Senate but lost, and later campaigned against the poll tax which was, in effect, campaigning against the power of the Byrd Organization. Davis died in 1942.
Alfred W. Harris introduced the bill that chartered Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (later Virginia State University) during his time in the House of Delegates (1881–1888). Born enslaved in Fairfax County, during the American Civil War (1861–1865) his family moved to Alexandria, where he attended a school operated by the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands and later the city’s first segregated public schools. He won a seat on the Alexandria common council as a twenty-year-old and became a lawyer. Harris relocated in Petersburg and in 1881 won the first of four consecutive terms term in the House of Delegates, representing Dinwiddie County. He played key roles in Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute’s first years, serving as its de facto treasurer and the first secretary of the board of visitors. Harris strongly supported the Readjuster and later Republican Party leader William Mahone, even backing his candidate in the 1888 congressional election against John Mercer Langston. After leaving the House of Delegates, Harris served as a Newport News specials customs inspector and a Petersburg census enumerator. He resigned his post after being arrested and exonerated twice on charges of theft. Following a stroke, Harris died in his Petersburg home in 1920.
Millie Lawson Bethell Paxton was a civic leader who worked toward a more inclusive democracy in Roanoke. She worked to redress racial inequality on many fronts as organizer of the city’s first Colored Women’s Voting Club, leader of a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People membership drive, Roanoke chair of the Better Homes in America organization, founding president of the Ideal Garden Club, and president of the auxiliary at the local Burrell Memorial Hospital, a pioneering health-care facility for African Americans. Paxton was an officer or member of almost every African American women’s organization in Roanoke including the Independent Order of Calanthe, Young Women’s Christian Association, and Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. She also raised three children as a single mother and worked in Roanoke’s African American schools. Paxton died on July 2, 1939.
Charles Carter, a planter and member-elect of the Council of State, spent much of his adulthood managing Corotoman, the Lancaster County plantation he inherited from his father, John Carter. Later he inherited Shirley Plantation in Charles City County and relocated there after renovating its main house. He was a successful and wealthy planter and entrepreneur, owning more than 13,000 acres of land in thirteen counties at his death. Carter served as a member of the House of Burgesses from 1758 until the American Revolution (1775–1783). Carter supported the reaction against greater parliamentary regulation of colonial affairs and sat in the four Revolutionary Conventions that met in 1774 and 1775. Despite these efforts, he declined a seat on the Council of State in the new commonwealth of Virginia. He died in 1806.
John Tyler was the tenth president of the United States. The son of a Virginia governor, Tyler had already been a member of the House of Delegates and the Council of State before being elected to Congress in 1816. After serving as governor of Virginia, the assembly elected him to the United States Senate. A slaveholder and Democrat, he supported states’ rights and limited government. He broke with Andrew Jackson early in the 1830s over what he viewed as an alarming increase in federal power. Tyler joined the Whig Party and won the vice presidency in 1840 on a ticket with William Henry Harrison. Following Harrison’s death in April 1841, Tyler became the first vice president to assume office after the death of the chief executive. His support of states’ rights clashed with his party’s prevailing belief in a stronger government, nearly causing the collapse of his administration. Tyler found some success in foreign affairs, but he left the White House in 1845 unpopular and expelled from the Whig Party. As the secession crisis intensified early in 1861, Tyler presided over the ill-fated Peace Conference to head off armed conflict. He served as a delegate to the Virginia convention that addressed the state’s response to the crisis, ultimately voting for secession in April 1861. The following November Tyler won election to the Confederate House of Representatives, but died before his term began.
Noah Davis was a Baptist minister and author of an emancipation narrative, A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, a Colored Man, published in 1859. Born into slavery in Madison County, Davis learned farming and carpentry and joined the Baptist church in Fredericksburg, which elected him a deacon. In 1847, white Baptists paid for Davis’s freedom (he had already raised some of the money) and hired him as a missionary to African Americans in Baltimore. The next year he established the Second Colored Baptist Church in that city and over the next decade raised the money to free his family, who were in danger of being sold. His memoir was published in part to earn funds for that effort. In 1863, Davis attended the American Baptist Missionary Convention in Washington, D.C., and there met with President Abraham Lincoln, requesting he be allowed to preach to African American troops. In 1866, his church united with another, and Davis died the next year, in Baltimore.
George Washington Parke Custis was a writer and orator who worked to preserve the legacy of his stepgrandfather, George Washington. Born in Maryland, Custis moved to Mount Vernon after the death of his father in 1781. He was expelled from college, served in the army, and lost election to the House of Delegates before moving to an inherited estate he called Arlington. In addition, Custis owned two other large plantations and property in four other counties. He promoted agricultural reform and commercial independence and disapproved of slavery on economic grounds, supporting gradual emancipation and colonization. During the War of 1812, Custis manned a battery, helped Dolley Madison save Washington’s portrait at the White House, and delivered well-received orations on a variety of topics. In the years after the war, he began writing essays, often about Washington’s family and career. He later turned to the penning of historical plays and operettas. Pocahontas; or, The Settlers of Virginia, from 1830, was dedicated to John Marshall and remains his most durable work. The patriotism of his plays fed into his work to preserve the legacy of his stepgrandfather. Custis curated a collection of Washington relics made available for public view and sometimes distributed as gifts. He arranged for portraits of Washington and painted his own scenes of life during the American Revolution (1775–1783). Custis died at Arlington in 1857.
William Claiborne served as a member of the governor’s Council (1623–1637; 1642–1661) and as secretary of the colony (1626–1634). Born in England and educated at Cambridge, Claiborne came to Virginia in 1621 as surveyor of the colony and by 1623 was a member of the Council. He operated a lucrative trading post on Kent Island but was evicted by Maryland authorities, who claimed the land as their own. In 1626, Claiborne became secretary of the colony and led a powerful faction on the Council that clashed with Governor Sir John Harvey and eventually evicted him from office. After serving in the militia during the Anglo-Powhatan War of 1644–1646, Claiborne, a Puritan sympathizer, helped negotiate the surrender of Virginia to Parliament in 1652 after the English Civil Wars. When Charles II was restored to the throne, Claiborne, who had a civil relationship with the long-serving loyalist governor Sir William Berkeley, retired from public life. He defended the governor during Bacon’s Rebellion (1676), losing much of his property in the process. Claiborne died in 1679.
John Esten Cooke was a novelist, biographer, and veteran of the American Civil War (1861–1865). One of the most important literary figures of nineteenth-century Virginia, Cooke was the prolific author of historical adventures and romances in the tradition of Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper. His most famous and perhaps best work, The Virginia Comedians: or, Old Days in the Old Dominion (1854), follows the aristocratic cad Champ Effingham in Virginia before the American Revolution (1775–1783). In fact, Cooke saw himself as a critic of aristocracy, but that criticism was rarely particularly sharp, and after the Civil War, his work unselfconsciously glorified the Confederacy in the tradition of the Lost Cause. “Come!” Cooke wrote in Surry of Eagle’s-Nest (1866). “Perhaps as you follow me, you will live in the stormy days of a cavalier epoch: breathe its fiery atmosphere, and see its mighty forms as they defile before you, in a long and noble line.” A relative by marriage to Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart, Cooke served with the cavalryman during the war and wrote hagiographic biographies of generals Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
John Dabney was a renowned Richmond-based caterer through much of the nineteenth century. Dabney began acquiring his reputation while enslaved, even serving one of his famed mint juleps to the future Edward VII during the prince’s 1860 visit to America. He was in the process of purchasing his own freedom when the American Civil War (1861–1865) and slavery ended. Known for his integrity, he could secure credit from banks, which he and his wife used to purchase several properties and open a restaurant. While outwardly conforming to the expectations of white society, he privately harbored no illusions about his clients’ racism. Dabney inwardly experienced the “two-ness” that the sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois described in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), of being “an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings.” Exemplifying his popularity, all four of Richmond’s daily newspapers reported his death.
Lott Cary was a Baptist minister and one of the first American settlers of Liberia. Born enslaved about 1780, he labored in Richmond tobacco warehouses before purchasing his own freedom by about 1813. He bought land in Henrico County, married, and became a popular lay preacher. In 1815 Cary helped found the Richmond African Baptist Missionary Society and after the establishment of the American Colonization Society a year later, prepared to immigrate with other free blacks to Liberia, in West Africa. He arrived there in 1821 and helped to settle what became the town of Monrovia in 1824. Demonstrating a wide range of leadership skills, he tended the sick, organized a native labor force, established a joint stock company, and helped extend the settlement’s territory. He was twice elected vice agent of Liberia, in 1826 and 1827, and president of the Monrovia Baptist Missionary Society. He assumed leadership of Monrovia in 1828 but died later that year in an accidental gunpowder explosion. After his death, Cary became something of a folk hero, becoming even more eloquent and pious than he had been in life.
John Parke Custis was a planter and member of the House of Delegates (1778–1781). After the death of his father, Daniel Parke Custis, his mother, Martha Dandridge Custis, married George Washington and moved the family to Mount Vernon. Washington became Custis’s guardian and the administrator of his large inheritance. Custis was never a strong student (one of his teachers described him as “exceedingly indolent”) and left King’s College in New York City without earning a degree. Back in Virginia he managed his extensive landholdings and served in the House of Delegates, where during the American Revolution (1775–1783) he criticized the conduct of the war but often did not attend the assembly’s sessions. Custis served with his stepfather at the siege of Yorktown (1781) and died of illness a few months later.
James F. Lipscomb represented Cumberland County in the House of Delegates from 1869 until 1877. Born free in Cumberland, Lipscomb became a landholder after the American Civil War (1861–1865) and in 1869 he won a seat in the General Assembly, the second election in which African Americans could vote in Virginia. Affiliated with the radical wing of the Republican Party and reelected three times, Lipscomb lost his attempt for a fifth term in 1877. He was likely related to John Robinson, who represented Cumberland County in the Convention of 1867–1868 and in the Senate of Virginia. Lipscomb, primarily a farmer, possessed one of the largest African American–owned houses in the county. He also opened a store that stayed in his family until it closed in 1971.
Charles R. Fenwick served as a Democratic member of the House of Delegates (1940–1945) and the Senate of Virginia (1948–1969) and played a key political role in the development of Northern Virginia after World War II (1939–1945). Fenwick entered politics in the 1930s as a member of the Byrd Organization and represented Arlington County for three terms in the House of Delegates. After an unsuccessful attempt to secure the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, Fenwick was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 1947. During the 1950s he opposed the statewide program of Massive Resistance to public-school desegregation, instead supporting local-option plans. He served as the University of Virginia‘s rector and helped to establish the branch of the university that in 1972 became George Mason University. Fenwick led efforts to regulate the region’s public transportation, develop a regional subway system, and establish an authority to build airports in the state. Fenwick died in 1969, while still serving n the Senate. The main library at George Mason University and the Washington, D.C., Metro’s Fourteenth Street bridge across the Potomac River are named in his honor.
Richard Eppes was a wealthy planter, slaveholder, Confederate soldier, and wartime surgeon whose detailed diaries have provided historians insights into the lives of elite Virginians of his time. Born at his family’s plantation in Prince George County, Eppes was educated in Petersburg and at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and the University of Pennsylvania, before traveling in the Middle East. It was during that trip that he began his lifelong habit of recording his experiences in a diary. Eppes found high earnings in his plantations where his father had not, and treated the enslaved men, women, and children who labored for him with a strict, sometimes violent paternalism. At the Convention of 1861 he supported remaining in the Union, but when the American Civil War (1861–1865) began he joined a cavalry regiment, serving during the Peninsula Campaign (1862) before hiring a replacement. He later served as a surgeon at a Petersburg hospital while Union general Ulysses S. Grant used his property as his headquarters while laying siege to the city. After the war, Eppes returned to farming and died in 1896. His Appomattox Manor later became a unit of Petersburg National Battlefield, while his diaries were published in twenty-one volumes.
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.
George Major Cook, also known as Wahunsacook or Wahansunacoke, served as chief of the Pamunkey Indians from 1902 until his death in 1930. Born on the Pamunkey Reservation in King William County in 1860, Cook had become one of the headmen of the tribe by 1888 and was elected chief in 1902. In 1917 he obtained rulings from the state attorney general that Virginia had no right to tax Indians living on the reservation or to draft members of the tribe for military service, thus reaffirming Pamunkey status as wards of the state. During the 1920s he opposed the Virginia Act to Preserve Racial Integrity, which effectively classified Virginians as either black or white. In speeches, newspaper articles, and visits to legislative committees and successive Virginia governors, Cook argued for the right of Virginia’s Indians to maintain their distinct heritage and be correctly classified as Indians in official records. During the final year of his life, Cook led opposition to a proposal to exempt Indians on reservations from being classified as black because it did not protect those who lived off the reservations. He died at his home on the reservation on December 16, 1930.
William S. Christian was a Confederate army officer, a temperance organization leader, and a doctor who worked in Middlesex County. In 1859 Christian raised a cavalry company known as the Middlesex Light Dragoons, which became Company C of the 55th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Christian was wounded twice during the war: first at the Battle of Glendale (1862) and then again at the Battle of Chancellorsville (1863). Christian participated in the Army of Northern Virginia‘s advance into Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863 and was captured by Union forces after the Gettysburg campaign (1863). He was imprisoned for less than a year at Johnson’s Island in Ohio, where he composed a long poem entitled “The Past.” After the war Christian returned to Urbanna to practice medicine. From 1876 to 1881 he served as state head of the Independent Order of Good Templars, an international temperance league. In 1880 he set up a segregated Dual Grand Lodge in Richmond, accommodating members who believed African Americans should be admitted to the society while pacifying white southerners who resisted that notion. Christian was also a member of the Medical Society of Virginia and Middlesex County’s board of health and, from 1890 to 1909, the superintendent of Middlesex County’s public schools. He died on December 10, 1910.
John R. Everett presided over Hollins College (later Hollins University) from 1950 until 1960. Reportedly the nation’s youngest college president when he assumed the office, he established a new curriculum and oversaw the near doubling of Hollins’s student body and faculty. Everett also instituted a study abroad program. He left Virginia to become the first chancellor of the Municipal College System of the City of New York and later spent nearly two decades as president of the New School for Social Research (later the New School) in New York City. He died in 1992. A scholarship was established in his name at Hollins following his retirement.
William Faulcon represented Surry and Prince George counties for one term in the House of Delegates (1885–1887). Probably born into slavery, after the American Civil War (1861–1865) he operated a blacksmith’s shop. He began purchasing land in Surry County in 1879, eventually acquiring ninety acres. Little is known about how he became involved in politics, but local Republicans nominated him for the House of Delegates in 1885. Faulcon won the seat handily, but he did not present legislation or speak on the record during the term’s first session. He submitted a few bills on behalf of Surry County residents during the extra session. Faulcon was the Republican nominee for the seat in 1891, but he withdrew from the race before election day. He continued to farm in Surry County and died by 1904.
Henry Cary was a leading contractor in colonial Virginia. Born in Warwick County, Cary spent much of his life constructing public buildings. His major projects included the York County courthouse (1697) and a new prison and Capitol in Williamsburg (by 1705). His success in these projects led to his appointment in 1706 to oversee construction of the new residence for the governor. A dispute in 1711 with Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood over progress on the governor’s residence led to his dismissal from the project. With his career in Williamsburg effectively at an end, Cary retired to his Warwick County plantation. He died on an unrecorded date before September 1, 1720, when his will was proved in the county court.
John A. G. Davis was a law professor at the University of Virginia who was murdered there by a student. Born in Middlesex County, Davis attended the College of William and Mary and then, after marrying a grandniece of Thomas Jefferson, the recently founded University of Virginia. He established a law practice in Albemarle County, helped found a newspaper, and then, in 1830, joined the University of Virginia’s faculty as a professor of law. In his publications, Davis defended states’ rights and limited government, supporting nullification in 1832. A popular but strict professor, he used his role as faculty chairman in 1836 to help expel about seventy student-militia members, leading to a riot. Four years later, on the anniversary of that riot, two students in masks shot off their weapons outside Davis’s residence, Pavilion X. When Davis confronted them, one of the students, Joseph G. Semmes, shot the professor dead. Semmes fled the state and later committed suicide. Davis died two days later, and his murder helped finally to calm years of misbehavior among the university’s students.
William Daniel Jr. was a member of the House of Delegates (1831–1832, 1835–1836, 1838) and served as a judge of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (1847– 1865). Born in Winchester, Daniel earned a law degree from the University of Virginia and practiced in Lynchburg. He represented Campbell County in the House of Delegates, and during the slavery debate of 1831–1832 spoke against a proposal to free children born to enslaved mothers. Elected to the Supreme Court of Appeals in 1846, he sat on the bench through the American Civil War (1861–1865) issuing respected rulings on equity jurisprudence and property rights. In 1861, he wrote an opinion in Baker v. Wise, Governor, which upheld a Virginia law that required state inspectors to verify that ships owned out of state and bound for the North did not harbor fugitive slaves. After the war Daniel resumed his law practice in Lynchburg and died in nearby Nelson County in 1873.
John H. Davis was an African American entrepreneur and newspaper publisher who advanced with the economic boom created by Roanoke‘s establishment in the 1880s and then lost much of his wealth in the financial panic of 1893. It is unknown whether Davis was born free or into slavery, but in 1869 he owned property in Lynchburg. In January 1879 he purchased land in the Roanoke County community of Big Lick, soon to become the railroad center Roanoke. His business holdings expanded over the next thirteen years, ultimately solely owning thirty lots, the four-story Davis Hall, and the Roanoke Weekly Press published in the Davis Building. Davis attended two state conventions as a supporter of the Readjuster Party, and had two failed bids for city council. At his peak, his real and personal property valued between $50,000 and $75,000. Davis’s holdings shrank rapidly during the economic bust of the mid-1890s, and he died in 1896.
Cockacoeske, also known as Cockacoeweske, was a Pamunkey chief, and a descendant of Opechancanough, brother of the paramount chief Powhatan. After the death of her husband, Totopotomoy, chief of the Pamunkey from about 1649 until 1656, Cockacoeske became queen of the Pamunkey. In 1676, a few months before the outbreak of Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677), the insurrection’s leader, Nathaniel Bacon, and his followers attacked the Pamunkey, took captives, and killed some of Cockacoeske’s people. That summer she appeared before a committee of burgesses and governor’s Council members in Jamestown to discuss the number of warriors she could provide to defend the colony against frontier tribes. She gave a speech reminding the colonists of Pamunkey warriors killed while fighting alongside the colonists. In February 1677 she asked the General Assembly for the release of Pamunkey who had been taken captive and for the restoration of Pamunkey property. An astute politician, Cockacoeske signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation on May 29, 1677, reuniting under her authority several tribes that had not been under Powhatan domination since 1646. Cockacoeske ruled the Pamunkey until her death in 1686.
Raleigh Edward Colston was a Confederate officer during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Born in Paris, France, Colston attended the Virginia Military Institute (1843–1846) and after graduation taught at his alma mater. In December 1859 Colston served as adjutant of the VMI detachment sent to Charles Town to supervise the hanging of John Brown. Throughout the war Colston commanded several different regiments, brigades, and districts, and rose in the Confederate army from colonel to brigadier general. In June 1862, after fighting in battles at Williamsburg and Seven Pines, he contracted “Peninsular” fever, jaundice, and malaria, and was placed on leave. He recovered to fight at the battles of Chancellorsville (1863) and Petersburg (1864). Following the war, Colston lectured about his friend and former VMI colleague Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and served as principal at two North Carolina military schools. Colston moved to Egypt in 1873 to teach at a military college and lead expeditions for the Egyptian army. His poor health, however, caused him to return to the United States, where he worked as a teacher and writer at various schools until he was too ill to do so. Colston died on July 29, 1896.
John Custis was a member of the governor’s Council and a tobacco planter often referred to as John Custis, of Williamsburg, to distinguish him from his grandfather, father, and other relatives of the same name. He is best known as Martha Dandridge Custis Washington‘s first father-in-law. The Northampton County native studied the tobacco trade in London in his early years, which helped him acquire a better economic understanding compared with his contemporaries. Custis married Frances Parke, and their relationship became known in Virginia lore for its quarrelsomeness, immortalized on his tombstone. The couple produced the heir Daniel Parke Custis, but after her death he fathered a son, John, with his slave Alice. Custis freed his son and gave him gifts of money, land, and slaves.
T. B. Fitzgerald helped to found and served as the longtime president of the Riverside Cotton Mills, in Danville. Born in Halifax County, he served briefly in the Confederate army during the American Civil War (1861–1865) before being discharged for illness. In 1882, he was a founder of the Riverside Cotton Mills, a company that provided contracts to a construction business Fitzgerald had established a decade earlier. Over the next several decades, the business and Danville both grew rapidly, and Fitzgerald invested in real estate and lumber and helped establish the Danville College for Young Ladies and the Danville Street Car Company. In 1895, he became president of the newly chartered Dan River Power and Manufacturing Company, which merged with the cotton mills in 1909, eventually becoming Dan River Mills. Fitzgerald, who remained on the company board for the rest of his life, died in his Danville home in 1929.
Sara Carter was a member of the Carter Family, a trio that helped to pioneer what became known as country music. Born and raised in Southwest Virginia, Sara Dougherty sang and played the autoharp from an early age. In 1915, she married the salesman A. P. Carter, who sang bass and collected and arranged songs. With Maybelle Carter—Sara Carter’s first cousin and the wife of A. P. Carter’s brother—the couple formed the Carter Family, recording for the first time at the Bristol Sessions of 1927. The group made nearly 300 records in a career that lasted until the early 1940s, and for several years they performed on ultrahigh-frequency border radio. These broadcasts could be heard across North America and helped make the group nationally famous. With the Carter Family’s success, Sara Carter’s marriage became strained. In 1933 she and A. P. Carter separated; three years later they divorced but continued to perform together. In 1941, she remarried and the next year moved to California, leaving her three children in Virginia with A. P. Carter. Sara Carter spent the rest of her life in California, reuniting briefly with her former husband in the 1950s to perform with two of their children. In 1966 she recorded an album with Maybelle Carter. Sara Carter died in 1979 and was buried near her first husband in Virginia.
Pauline Haislip Duncan served as one of Virginia’s first female law enforcement officers. She was a charter member of the Organized Women Voters of Arlington County, which was among a number of local civic and political groups she joined after women received the right to vote. The organization pushed for a woman deputy in 1923, recommending Smith. She recorded her first criminal arrest the following year and served until 1943, surviving an attempt to remove her in 1927. Smith mostly worked on cases involving women and children, though she at times chased thieves and helped stop fights. She also aided the local Parent-Teacher Association and the Girl Scouts, helping earn her the nickname Aunt Polly. The Organized Women Voters of Arlington County honored her as its Woman of the Year in 1965.
William Roscoe Davis was an important African American leader in Elizabeth City County (later the city of Hampton) during the American Civil War (1861–1865), and served as doorkeeper for the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868. Born into slavery, Davis was noted for his intelligence and received permission to work as a boat operator. He spent a considerable amount of his money paying for a lawsuit to defend his wife‘s manumission, but a local judge refused to enforce the couple’s legal victory. Davis was among the first slaves to find freedom at Fort Monroe. A Baptist exhorter before the conflict, he became an ordained minister by 1863. His charisma was so impressive that he became a paid orator who toured Northern states. Later in life he claimed credit for the creation of Hampton Normal and Collegiate Institute (later Hampton University), telling people that his request for a new teacher led to the arrival of the institution’s founder, Samuel Chapman Armstrong. He remained a leader in the community and respected elder in his family, also serving as the Old Point Comfort lighthouse keeper and buying property in Hampton. He died in 1904.
Henry Cary was one of the leading building contractors in Virginia during the first half of the eighteenth century. The son of the builder Henry Cary, Cary was probably born on his father’s plantation in Warwick County and likely learned the trade from his father. His first major project, late in the 1710s, was a church for Saint Paul’s Parish in what became Hanover County. A few years later he worked on the governor’s residence, a project begun by his father; repaired the Capitol; and, in 1723, likely supervised construction of the Brafferton building at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg. It is one of the earliest examples of the “neat and plain” style that dominated late colonial Virginia architecture. Cary also worked on a chapel wing and a president’s residence for the college. In the 1730s he constructed his own large residence, Ampthill, on the James River in Henrico (later Chesterfield) County. Active in the Church of England, Cary also sat on the Henrico and Warwick county courts and was a sheriff of Henrico County. He died in the winter of 1749–1750, perhaps not long before his will was proved on March 2, 1750.
William Colson was a merchant who helped establish Roberts, Colson, and Company, one of the first African American transatlantic shipping companies. Born in Petersburg the son of a free black barber, he was probably self-educated. His partnership with Joseph Jenkins Roberts, another free black businessman, began during or before 1829. They acquired a schooner and began to trade between the United States and Liberia, where Roberts moved. The business did well and Colson lived well in Petersburg. In 1835 he visited Liberia to acquaint himself with the business there and to serve a year as a missionary. Not long after arriving, however, he became ill and died.
Susannah Sanders Cooper tested restraints on married women‘s property ownership in eighteenth-century Virginia. In 1717 Susannah Sanders married Isles Cooper, but he had deserted her by 1720 and later illegally married at least two other women. Her husband’s creditors seized assets she had brought to her marriage. She later engaged in business in her own name, including operating an ordinary in New Kent County for many years. Early in the 1740s Cooper petitioned the House of Burgesses to protect her estate, to allow her to operate as a feme sole, and to enable her to bequeath her property to her son. The burgesses and governor’s Council agreed in 1744 and forwarded the bill to London for the Crown’s review. The Privy Council ignored the bill for many years and did not approve it. In June 1751 Cooper’s husband sold her property to a son born of one of his illegal marriages, after which Susannah Sanders Cooper disappeared from public records.
William W. Evans served one term in the House of Delegates (1887–1888). Evans, whose father served in both houses of the General Assembly, was born enslaved and became involved with politics by 1882, when Petersburg‘s voters elected him city gauger. By August 1887 Evans had become editor of the Virginia Lancet, a Republican newspaper that he used to advocate improvements in the political and material lives of African Americans. In November of that year he won a seat in the House of Delegates, representing Petersburg. He remained loyal to the Republican Party leader William Mahone during a bruising congressional race in 1888, ultimately won by the independent candidate John Mercer Langston. That year Evans obtained a law license and established a practice in Petersburg. Later he worked in Portsmouth until ill health caused him to move back to Petersburg, where he died in 1892.
Miles Cary was a member of the governor’s Council. Born in England, Cary became involved in the tobacco trade, perhaps as a result of the losses his father suffered during the English Civil Wars. By 1645 Cary had arrived in Elizabeth City County. He resided in Warwick County and opened a store. Successful at this business, he became a justice of the peace by 1650. He patented 3,000 acres of land in Westmoreland County and by 1660 was a colonel of militia. In 1659 he was elected to the House of Burgesses and was a member of the governor’s Council at some point before 1664. He helped plan for the defense of Virginia during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. He died in 1667; family tradition holds that he was mortally wounded during a fight against Dutch men-of-war at the mouth of the James River.
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.
Charles Henry Corey served as president of what became Virginia Union University. Born in New Brunswick, Canada, he entered the United States late in the 1850s to pursue a divinity degree. He preached to Union troops during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and later became active in the American Baptist Home Mission Society, which ministered to freedpeople. In 1868 he took over a fledgling theological school for African Americans in Richmond. The school became the Richmond Institute in 1876, and a decade later it was renamed Richmond Theological Seminary. In 1896 the seminary and the nearby Hartshorn Memorial College, a women’s institution, pursued plans to incorporate as Virginia Union University. By May 1897 Wayland Seminary, in Washington, D.C., joined the institution. The merger was formalized in 1900 with the school’s reincorporation as Virginia Union University; however, Corey did not live to see the event. His poor health had forced him to resin the presidency in 1898, and he died the following year.
D. Webster Davis was a teacher, poet, and lecturer in Richmond and Manchester. Born into slavery, Davis became a teacher in 1879, working in Richmond public schools for thirty-three years. In 1896 he was ordained a pastor. He also worked as an editor in the 1890s, but his literary ambitions centered mostly on poetry. His first collection was published in 1895 and a second two years later. Literary scholars have criticized his work for perpetuating racial stereotypes, but some argue that, read in context, the works illustrate the complicated position of the first generation of free, educated African Americans. Davis also became a popular lecturer, incorporating his poems into speeches. His notoriety augmented his position within Richmond and Manchester’s African American communities, where he held a series of leadership positions. Schools in Richmond and Staunton, as well as Virginia State University, named buildings in honor of Davis, and several Richmond city schools closed on the day of his funeral in 1913.
Frances Farmer was a law librarian and the first female law professor at the University of Virginia. Born in Charlotte County, Farmer studied history and then law before becoming a law librarian at the University of Richmond in 1938 and the University of Virginia in 1942. She took charge of cataloguing and then greatly expanding the School of Law’s collection, helping to develop the school’s alumni association as a fund-raising tool. In 1959, she served a one-year term as president of the American Association of Law Libraries. Four years later she was elected to the general faculty and, in 1969, made a full professor. During her tenure the law library grew from fewer than 40,000 to more than 300,000 volumes. Farmer retired in 1976 and died in 1993.
L. R. Flemings was an African American justice of the peace in Lancaster County from about 1887 until 1937; records are not complete, but it is possible he served in office continuously during these years. Whatever the case, he likely was the longest-serving black public official in Virginia’s history prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Born free in that county sometime between 1857 and 1861, Flemings was a storekeeper when he first won election as justice of the peace. He served four-year terms in the majority-black county for at least thirty-two years despite widespread efforts in Virginia to disfranchise African American men, especially after passage of the Constitution of 1902. In 1912, Flemings was named registrar of vital statistics in Lancaster County, serving for more than a decade. He also served as a coroner, a member of the county grand jury, and a delegate to the Republican Party state convention in 1896. Flemings died in Lancaster County in 1937.
Miles Cary was a commander of the militia, justice of the peace, and member of the House of Burgesses, serving intermittently from 1682 until 1706. Born in Warwick County and educated in England, he was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1682 and 1684. Reelected in 1688, he served until 1706 with the exception of several assemblies. He became one of the most influential members of the General Assembly through service on important committees. Cary held other important administrative posts including clerk of the General Court, register of the Virginia Court of Vice Admiralty, and surveyor general of Virginia. A founding trustee of the College of William and Mary, he served on its board probably until his death and was rector for a pair of one-year terms beginning in 1695 and in 1704. He controlled nearly 2,000 acres of land in Warwick County, where he was one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens. He died in 1709, probably at his plantation in Warwick County.
Aaron Commodore represented Essex County in the House of Delegates (1875–1877). Commodore was born enslaved, but by 1872 he had earned enough money to buy property in Tappahannock. Respected for his intelligence and charisma, the powerfully built Commodore became a leader in the county’s Republican Party despite his illiteracy. He won his General Assembly seat by a mere twenty-nine votes. After his term, he remained a fixture in county politics, and died, probably in Tappahannock, in 1892.
Elizabeth Parke Custis was a social leader and the stepgranddaughter of George Washington. Born in Maryland, she lived with her mother in Alexandria after the death of her father in 1781. When her mother remarried in 1783, they moved to Hope Park, a country estate in Fairfax County, where Custis felt isolated and limited by the social restrictions imposed on women. Eccentric, intelligent, and sometimes difficult, Custis married the merchant Thomas Law in 1796, and the couple lived and entertained in Washington, D.C., until they separated in 1804. A divorce was finalized in 1811. Custis lived for a time on an estate outside Alexandria, which she called Mount Washington. Later in life she traveled between friends and relatives, collecting Washington family memorabilia. She died in 1831 and is buried at Mount Vernon.
James T. S. Taylor represented Albemarle County at the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868. Born to free parents, Taylor served with the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and wrote letters to the New York Anglo-African during his service. Described as a radical, Taylor won election in 1867 as one of the county’s two delegates to a convention called to rewrite the state’s constitution. African Americans, voting for the first time in Virginia, overwhelmingly supported him, although his own father, a moderate, publicly opposed Taylor’s election. Taylor spoke occasionally during convention and voted with the majority to approve the new constitution, which provided for universal manhood suffrage and the establishment of a statewide public school system. In subsequent years he twice ran for a seat in the House of Delegates, but he lost both times. Taylor remained a prominent member of Charlottesville‘s African American community well into the twentieth century. He died of pneumonia at his home in 1918.
Emily Wayland Dinwiddie was a social worker and reformer. Born in Virginia, she helped to professionalize and systematize social work. She drew on her experience as a tenement inspector in New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh to write handbooks, manuals, and forms. In her reports Dinwiddie placed an emphasis on maintaining high standards of public health and sanitation in city tenements. In 1918 she joined the American Red Cross in France, and continued to work for the organization until 1922. Five years later Dinwiddie became director of the Children’s Bureau at the Virginia State Board of Public Welfare. She also took a leave of absence to write Virginia State Hospitals for Mental Patients (1934), a comprehensive report of the state’s public mental hospitals. Dinwiddie moved to Kansas in 1934 to work for the Emergency Relief Administration. She retired from public service in 1938 and died in Virginia in 1949.
Daniel Parke Custis, a planter, is best known as Martha Dandridge Custis Washington‘s first husband. Custis found his early life constrained by his father, John Custis (1679–1749), who squelched at least two of his courtships and was reluctant to give him land. Martha Dandridge, twenty years younger than Custis, eventually won his father’s approval. He was a major landholder—inheriting 18,000 acres of land upon his father’s death—but Custis declined to take a major role in Virginia politics. Martha Dandridge Custis inherited his property after Custis died without a will. She was one of the wealthiest young widows in Virginia when she married George Washington in 1759.
William H. B. Custis was a member of the House of Delegates (1842–1846) and the Convention of 1861 and a member-elect of the House of Representatives. Born in Accomack County and educated in Indiana, he served in the House of Delegates as a Democrat known for his eloquence and speaking skills. At the state convention called to consider secession in 1861, Custis strongly supported remaining in the Union as the best means of protecting slavery and twice voted against the Ordinance of Secession; he nevertheless signed the document. His activities during the American Civil War (1861–1865) are unknown. In 1865, he was elected to represent the First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives but Radical Republicans prevented members from former Confederate states from being seated. Thereafter, he served as clerk of the Accomack County Court and of the circuit court. He died in 1889.
Daniel M. Norton, one of three brothers elected to the General Assembly, was a physician who served in the Senate of Virginia (1871–1873, 1877–1887). Born enslaved, he escaped to New York in the mid-1850s. He learned the medical profession and by 1865 moved to Yorktown, where he quickly became a leader among the area’s freedpeople. The region’s voters elected him to the state Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868 and he later served for twelve years in the Senate of Virginia. Norton often clashed with the Republican Party‘s leadership and launched unsuccessful candidacies for the U.S. House of Representatives late in the 1860s and early in the 1870s. Norton aligned with the Readjuster Party in its early stages and played a key role in bringing African American voters into the short-lived, but powerful faction. He later clashed with political leader William Mahone, who engineered his removal from the Senate of Virginia. Norton owned considerable property in Yorktown, including the historic customs house. By 1910, he and his family were using the surname McNorton, although it is unclear why. He died in Hampton in 1918.
Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis was the stepgranddaughter of George Washington and important preserver of the first president‘s legacy. Born in Maryland, she and her brother, George Washington Parke Custis, went to live at Mount Vernon after the death of her father in 1781. Nelly Custis was educated in New York and Philadelphia while Washington served as president and helped to entertain guests. In 1797 she married Washington’s nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and the couple lived briefly at Mount Vernon. After Washington’s death, they inherited about 2,000 acres of his estate and in 1805 built their own home, Woodlawn. Throughout her life Nelly Custis Lewis regarded herself as the keeper of George Washington’s legacy, serving as an accurate purveyor of information about him and his life. She was instrumental in having a tomb erected at Mount Vernon in 1835. She died in 1852.
George Fitzhugh was a proslavery writer best known for two books: Sociology for the South; or the Failure of Free Society (1854) and Cannibals All! or, Slaves Without Masters (1857). Born in Prince William County and raised in King George County, Fitzhugh studied law before marrying and establishing a practice in Caroline County. In the years before the American Civil War (1861–1865), Fitzhugh distinguished himself for his aggressive and provocative defenses of slavery. In Fitzhugh’s writings, Virginia slaveholders presided over a society that was more free than in factory towns in the North and where enslaved African Americans were well treated and even better off enslaved. He argued for the benefits of slavery in general, regardless of the slave’s skin color, although he also asserted the moral inferiority of black people. In addition to publishing book-length arguments, Fitzhugh traveled widely, including in the North, where he sometimes debated abolitionists. In order to pay for his travels and publishing, Fitzhugh, ironically, may have had to sell many of his slaves. Before the war he worked in Washington, D.C., briefly, during the war for the Confederate Treasury Department in Richmond, and after the war for the Freedmen’s Bureau. He later moved to Kentucky and then Texas, where he died in 1881.
Isaac Edmundson represented Halifax County for one term in the House of Delegates (1869–1871). Born enslaved, he served as his owner’s body servant during the American Civil War (1861–1865). In 1869 the local Conservative Party, an organization dedicated to white supremacy, accepted political reality and nominated Edmundson as one of its candidates for the General Assembly. After winning a seat in the general election he became one of the first African Americans to serve in the assembly. After his term he worked as a barber and was able to secure both credit and real estate. He also held good enough political connections that the General Assembly passed a bill releasing him from a fine he owed to the Halifax County court. In 1924 Edmundson successfully applied for a state pension under a law that compensated African Americans who served the Confederate military in non-combat roles during the Civil War. He died in 1927.
Earnest Sevier Cox was a committed white supremacist who advocated on behalf of anti-miscegenation laws and in 1922 cofounded with the composer John Powell the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, a Richmond-based, nationwide organization devoted to maintaining a strict separation of the races. In 1923, Cox published White America, a book that described his travels in Africa and argues that race-mixing would result in the collapse of “white civilization.” He also wrote extensively on eugenics, a now discredited scientific movement aimed at proving the superiority of the white race. Together with composer Powell and Virginia state registrar Walter Plecker, Cox played an influential role in lobbying the Virginia General Assembly to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a strict anti-miscegenation law, and later the Massenburg Bill, which banned racial mixing in all public places. In 1924, Cox formed an unlikely alliance with the black nationalist Marcus Garvey based on their shared belief that the only way to save the races was for African Americans to relocate to Africa. Cox retired from the real estate business in 1958 and died in Richmond in 1966.
Nathaniel Herbert Claiborne was a member of the House of Delegates (1810–1812), the Council of State (1812–1817), the Senate of Virginia (1821–1825), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1825–1837). Claiborne also served as a member of the Rockfish Gap Commission, which chose Charlottesville as the site of the University of Virginia, and as commonwealth’s attorney for Franklin County. As a U.S. representative, he generally supported the policies of President Andrew Jackson until 1832, when he began to vote with the anti-Jackson faction. After losing reelection in 1836, Claiborne retired from politics and spent his remaining years on his farm near Rocky Mount.
John Wesley Cromwell was an educator, lawyer, and journalist. Born enslaved in Portsmouth, he became free after his mother, who was manumitted in 1849, purchased and freed his father and siblings. The family settled in Philadelphia, where Cromwell attended the Institute for Colored Youth, a Quaker school. He taught at several schools between 1865 and 1871, some of which were located in Portsmouth and Norfolk County. Cromwell acquired his law degree at Howard University and likely was the first African American attorney to argue before the Interstate Commerce Commission. He also published and edited the People’s Advocate, a weekly newspaper, from 1876 to 1884; established a series of intellectual associations, such as the Negro American Society and the Bethel Literary and Historical Association; and helped found the American Negro Academy. He resumed his career in education in 1899. Cromwell was a strong advocate for industrial and agricultural education, but later came to believe that African American leaders should also seek political solutions to racial problems. He died at his Washington, D.C., residence in 1927.
George Teamoh represented Portsmouth and Norfolk County at the Convention of 1867–1868 and in the Senate of Virginia (1869–1871). Born enslaved, Teamoh secretly learned to read in his youth and worked in Portsmouth’s shipyards. After his wife was sold, one of his owners helped him escape from a ship. Teamoh returned to Virginia after the American Civil War (1861–1865), and he quickly became involved in local politics and labor issues. He won election to the Convention called to create a new state constitution, and then served a term in the General Assembly’s upper house. Republican Party infighting cost him his political career. He returned to the Norfolk shipyards and died sometime after 1887. His autobiography, God Made Man, Man Made the Slave, was published in 1990.
George Lewis Dixon was a Baptist minister in the Fredericksburg area. Born with slave status, he and his family fled from Fredericksburg to Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War (1861–1865). After the war ended, Dixon returned to Fredericksburg, where he was elected pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church and was active in the local Republican Party. Dixon was representative of a unique generation of African American leaders, largely self-educated preachers, who inspired their communities to rebuild and expand antebellum churches and adapt them to the changing needs of their communities in a post-slavery society. He died in 1907.
John Q. Hodges was an African American leader in Norfolk and Princess Anne County after the American Civil War (1861–1865) and a member of the House of Delegates (1869–1870). Born in what later became Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of a free African American father and an English mother. Little is known of his early life, but he fought in the last half of the Civil War, participating in the Petersburg Campaign (1864–1865). He was present at the surrender of Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. Hodges’s father and uncles became prominent African American leaders in Tidewater Virginia, and he exploited their popularity to become well known too, winning election to the House of Delegates in 1869. He voted to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In 1866 Hodges’s stepmother sold him a share of his late father’s estate, and other family members successfully sued to nullify the transaction. After several run-ins with the law, Hodges returned to New York, where he worked as a clerk and died sometime after 1900.
William P. Moseley, a black Republican from Goochland County, was a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and of the Senate of Virginia (1869–1871). Born into slavery, Moseley likely operated a boat on the James River before the American Civil War (1861–1865). He was free by 1857, when he married the recently freed daughter of a nearby planter. After the war he lived in Richmond while buying land in Goochland and Fluvanna counties and becoming involved in local and state politics. He held an important committee post at the Convention of 1867–1868 and voted for all of the new constitution’s most important reforms. In 1869, he easily defeated the white Conservative Party candidate for a seat in the Senate of Virginia, where he offered an unsuccessful bill to prohibit racial segregation in the state’s new public schools. After serving one term, Moseley remained active in party politics but did not run again for public office. He farmed, owned land in several counties, and acquired a brick house in Richmond. He died in 1890.
Willis A. Hodges was an antislavery activist, newspaper editor, and member of the Convention of 1867–1868. Born in Princess Anne County, the son of free African Americans, he learned to read and write and, with his brothers Charles E. Hodges and William Johnson Hodges, became an outspoken abolitionist. Before the American Civil War (1861–1865), Hodges moved between Virginia and Brooklyn, New York, where his brother William Johnson had settled after a run-in with the law. In New York he ministered at a Baptist church, farmed, helped found a temperance society, and, in 1847, cofounded a weekly antislavery newspaper, the Ram’s Horn, through which he befriended the abolitionist John Brown. He also wrote an autobiography. After the war, having returned to Tidewater Virginia, Hodges became an outspoken leader of African Americans, opening a school and becoming involved in Republican Party politics. He served as a delegate to the constitutional convention and was the best known and one of the most active and vocal of the convention’s twenty-four African American members, supporting radical reforms and racial equality. In subsequent years, Hodges ran unsuccessfully for the Senate of Virginia and, three times, for the the House of Delegates. He did serve on the Prince Anne County board of supervisors, however, and as the keeper of the Cape Henry lighthouse, perhaps the first African American to hold that position. He died in 1890.
William Johnson Hodges was an antislavery activist and African American political leader in Tidewater Virginia. Born William Johnson Hodges in Princess Anne County to free African Americans of mixed-race ancestry, he began speaking at Baptist meetings as a young man and may have used his literacy to help forge free papers for enslaved people. In 1829 Hodges was convicted for altering an invoice and after his conviction he escaped from the Norfolk County jail, fleeing to Canada and later settling in New York. There he ran a grocery store and bought land, resuming his antislavery activities and founding the Colored Political Association of Kings County. Hodges returned to Virginia during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and was the founding president of the Colored Monitor Union Club in Norfolk. He and his son, John Q. Hodges, both acted as agents of the Southern Claims Commission. He had several more run-ins with the law, however, and was arrested again on the 1829 forgery charge before being pardoned by the governor. He served a year in the county jail for larceny and was charged with another crime soon after his release. In 1870, he won three elections in Norfolk County, as justice of the peace, member of the board of supervisors, and superintendent of the poor. He died in 1872.
Percy C. Corbin was a civil rights activist. A lawsuit he filed on behalf of his son, Corbin et al. v. County School Board of Pulaski County, Virginia, et al. (1950), led to one of only six successful lawsuits supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its legal campaign to equalize school facilities before Brown v. Board of Education (1954). A Texas native and physician, Corbin established his practice in the town of Pulaski, where he helped combat an influenza outbreak in 1918 and attracted both black and white clients. Corbin fought to equalize school facilities and was active in the local black community. He died in 1952.
Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis was an Episcopal lay leader whose efforts helped to revive Virginia’s Episcopal church early in the nineteenth century. Custis’s father, William Fitzhugh, served in the Continental Congress. Her husband, George Washington Parke Custis, was the stepgrandson of George Washington and well-known writer and orator. Their daughter, Mary Randolph Custis, married Robert E. Lee. Mary Custis lived at Arlington, a plantation in Alexandria County, and from there involved herself in raising funds for Episcopal schools and the American Colonization Society, which sought to free enslaved African Americans and send them to Africa. She and her daughter Mary also took an active role in the education of slaves. Custis died in 1853 and was buried at Arlington.