Governor John Letcher

March 29, 1813 – January 22, 1884

My first cousin, 5x removed. In other words

John Letcher 1759-1793 ( my 5th g-grandfather * the Gov. Letcher’s grandfather)

Hannah Letcher 1771-1849 ……. (sister & brother) Wm Houston Letcher
John L. Dougherty 1799-1868 … (1st cousins) Governor John Letcher
Mary Jane Daugherty 1826-1897
Eliza Greever Gregory 1857-1922
Mary Jane Davidson 1886-1960
Larkin Watson Buckland, Jr. 1915-1993

John Letcher was born in the town of Lexington in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He attended private rural schools and Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. In 1833, he was graduated from Washington Academy in Lexington. He studied law was admitted to the Virginia State Bar and opened a practice in Lexington in 1839.

Letcher was editor of the (Shenandoah) Valley Star newspaper from 1840 to 1850. He was active in the presidential campaigns of 1840, 1844, and 1848, serving as Democratic elector in 1848. Although never a true abolitionist, he signed the Ruffner Pamphlet of 1847, which proposed the abolition of slavery in that part of Virginia west of the Blue Ridge Mountains; however, he soon repudiated this antislavery stand. He was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1850.

He was elected as a Democratic candidate and served as a Representative in the United States Congress from 1851-1859. In Congress, he was known as “Honest John” because of his opposition to government extravagance.

John Letcher was elected as Governor of Virginia in 1859, defeating Whig candidate William L. Goggin, and served from 1860-1864. Letcher was prominent in the organization of the peace convention that met in Washington, D.C., February 8, 1861, in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending American Civil War. He discouraged secession, but was active in sustaining the ordinance passed by Virginia on April 17, 1861. In 1864, his home in Lexington was burned by Union troops during General David Hunter’s raid.

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