Author: William Bynum

ENTRY

Massey, John E. (1819–1901)

John E. Massey served as the lieutenant governor of Virginia (1886–1890), a member of the General Assembly (1873­–1879), and an influential member of two Virginia political parties. Born in Spotsylvania County, he served as a Baptist minister before the American Civil War (1861–1865), earning him the nickname Parson Massey. He won election to the General Assembly in 1873 as a Conservative, but joined the new Readjuster Party in 1879. After he lost his seat in the Senate, the Readjusters appointed Massey auditor of public accounts in 1879. He broke with Readjuster leader William Mahone in 1882 and the next year Massey helped revive the Democratic Party. As part of a Democratic sweep in 1885, Massey won election as lieutenant governor, supporting the disfranchisement of African Americans. In 1889 the assembly voted him to the first of two terms as state superintendent of public instruction. During his tenure, he promoted summer teacher training institutes but endorsed a proposal that would limit already meager appropriations for African American schools. He selected the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University) as the site for a state-supported summer normal institutes for teacher education. He remained active in the Baptist Church throughout his life, supported the temperance movement, and died on April 24, 1901, in Charlottesville, after having been elected to the upcoming constitutional convention.

Sponsors  |  View all