Category: Representatives of Virginia (U.S.)

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Archer, William Segar (1789–1855)

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.

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Atkinson, Archibald (1792–1872)

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.

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Barbour, John S. (1820–1892)

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.

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Barbour, Philip Pendleton (1783–1841)

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.

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Bassett, Burwell (1764–1841)

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.

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Bayly, Thomas Monteagle (1775–1834)

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.

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Beale, R. L. T. (1819–1893)

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.

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