Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mr. Caldwell Goes to Richmond

Did you know that there was a Republican in the Virginia State Senate -- in 1860? There was:

"Alfred Caldwell, former mayor of Wheeling, was elected to the Virginia Senate in 1859 under the Opposition banner, but, by 1860, he was an active Republican. Serving as a member of the Republican National Committee in 1860, Caldwell would eventually become what one contemporary called one of 'the most sagacious and resolute Republicans in the Northwest.' In Richmond, Caldwell was ostacized, left to smoke his cigars alone and pay his own bills at the bar. But Panhandlers elected Caldwell to represent their 'peculiar sentiments' about slavery, not 'to be the toast of urbanity.' Despite his ostracism, it was difficult for what he termed the 'peddler-lynching, school-mam expelling, parson-whipping editors and asses of Old Virginia' to undermine his popularity among his constituents."

William A. Link,
Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press 2003), at 202-03.

Incredibly, there's no Wikipedia entry for Senator Caldwell, and Professor Link's footnote (omitted) suggests by negative implication that there is little modern discussion of him. He might make an interesting topic for a thesis or paper.

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