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Dec
10

Washington’s First Election is a loss

By
When:
December 10, 2016 @ 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
2016-12-10T07:00:00-05:00
2016-12-10T19:00:00-05:00
Where:
1840 Courthouse
20 N Loudoun St
Winchester, VA 22601
USA
Cost:
Free

Washington’s First Election is a loss

Compiled by Jim Moyer, 12/10/2016, 4/10/2017, 4/28/2017

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First, a Brief chronology of Washington’s election career:

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George Washington's Political Career Began on this Site Marker

Washington lost

the 10 December 1755 election,

then won the 24 July 1758 election 

and won  the  18 May 1761 elections

to represent Frederick County VA.

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In 1765, a House of Burgesses position became open in Fairfax County,

enabling GW to continue representation of Fairfax County in 1768 and on, instead of Frederick County.

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This plaque exists to the left

of the big glass doors of the

1840 Court house.

Click on picture to enlarge.

See plaque’s inscription here.

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Young

That plaque mentions the word twice.

But we’ve seen the WWII movies where someone is called “Pops.”

And he was really only in his 20s.

And our historian, Norman Baker, mentions this.

And he knows.

He was on Iwo Jima.

Anyone who was a year or two in war, or

who had been in real battle once or twice

got the veteran tag, the “look”, the knowledge …

So too was George Washington a veteran.

Having seen how things can really, really go wrong

on a long journey to & back (Journey to Fort LeBeouf)

or in victory (the Battle of Jumonville)

or in defeat  (Fort Necessity July 3, 1754)

or in major horror  ( Braddock’s Defeat July 9, 1755),

you saw “experience” in a man, a tall leader, a veteran.

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INTERNET RESEARCH


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Okay its obvious not to trust everything you read.

Including this.

And including Wikipedia.

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And we use Wikipedia links OFTEN for one reason, mainly because those links stay intact over a longer time.  Eventually over time errors will be corrected there.

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In this case Wikipedia says this election was in 1757.

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Not correct.

10 December 1755 is the election.

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Wikipedia bases it on a pretty good website called New River Notes, but in this case, the website is wrong.

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And that website bases it on R T Barton.

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The Echo Chamber just for Politics?

No.

The echo chamber is alive and well for repeating an error everywhere and often on ANY subject.

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Robert T Barton’s Story of this election

The story of this loss is written by a Winchester VA born lawyer.

He presented his view  to the Virginia Historical Society,

Tuesday December 22, 1891

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Date and Year of George Washington’s first election

as stated in this little essay are wrong.

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Also, some stories in here are not proven,

such as the allegation that George Washington

lost the December 10, 1755 election because he had

alienated the support of the tippling house keepers.

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See Page 39 of

Garland R. Quarles, author of “George Washington and Winchester VA 1748-1758, A Decade of Preparation for Responsibilities to Come,” 1974, published by Winchester Frederick County Historical Society.

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Quarles states no doubt after this election GW did have problems with the tippling houses.

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And despite that – still won the 24 July 1758 election  and 18 May 1761 elections to represent Frederick County VA.

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WHY DID GW LOSE

HIS FIRST ELECTION ?


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Instead, no one knew of GW’s candidacy

on December 10, 1755

and possibly not even GW

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And where was George Washington?

He was helping his friends in the election at Fairfax County.

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George Washington

knocked down the day after –

literally


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George Washington is not in Winchester VA for his own election December 10. 1755.

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Instead he is helping his friend — George William Fairfax’s  election in Fairfax County.

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Drawing by Eric Cherry in December 2018. Sketch is unfinished because artist is waiting for information of what the old, old Fairfax County Court house looked like 9 December 1755 in Belhave (Alexandria) . Click or Touch to Enlarge.

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Let us just say you are 23 years old,  6 feet  3 inches tall and you are head of all of the military forces in an entire colony and you’ve just seen horrific warfare in the failed Braddock Expedition and you just loss an election the day before in Winchester VA .

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And . . . the next day outside the Fairfax County Courthouse polling place you make a remark against this little guy who becomes so angry he knocks you down to the ground with his hickory cane in front of a big crowd.

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What would you do?

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And what did you say to anger that little guy?

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But forget about that for now.

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More importantly, what are you going to do now?

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Lt Col Adam Stephen his men in Fort Cumberland hears about this insult.

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He writes to GW on 23 December 1755:

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“Such a Spirit of Revenge and Indignation prevaild here, upon hearing you were insulted at the Fairfax Election, that we all were ready and violent to run and tear Your Enemies to pieces.1 As I imagine my self interested in all that Concerns you, I cannot forbear telling you that it would have been far better to have acquainted me with your Intention of Standing Candidate for Frederick,2my acquaintance there is very general, and I would have touchd on the tender part, So gently that with a Weeks Notice, I am perfectly Sure you would have gone Unanimously, in the mean time I think your Poll was not despicable, as the people were a Stranger ⟨to⟩ your purpose, Untill the Election began.”

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What happened there?

At THAT polling place, there is a story of GW being

physically shoved and knocked down.

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See Founders Online Footnote:

“A clue to the insult to GW that Stephen refers to may be found in Parson Weems’s Life of Washington. He tells a tale of GW’s being knocked down with a club at the polls by a supporter of William Ellzey, the losing candidate.”

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And why was this election held in December of 1755?

Founders Online Footnote:

“At the end of the session on 8 Nov. 1755, Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie dissolved the Virginia Assembly that had met since 1748. The voters of the colony went to the polls in December to elect members of the House of Burgesses for the new assembly. Elections were not all held on the same day in the various counties, making it possible for Joshua Lewis, and other recruiters, to be on hand at election time at more than one county seat.”

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So, let’s go deeper on what might have happened.

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He was not in Frederick County for his own election.

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He was in Fairfax County on December 10, 1756  campaiging for  his friend’s election.

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The next day on December 11, 1756 he was helping his friend — George William Fairfax’s  election in Fairfax County.

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Insulted !

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Lt Colonel Adam Stephen in Fort Cumberland finds out about GW being involved in an altercation in Fairfax County and writes to Colonel George Washington, December 23, 1755:

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“Such a Spirit of Revenge and Indignation prevaild here, upon hearing you were insulted at the Fairfax Election, that we all were ready and violent to run and tear Your Enemies to pieces.1 “

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What happened there in Fairfax County?

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First, we go to Parson Weems, who appears to be the only one providing detail.

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See photo of artist Grant Wood in 1939  next to his painting of Parson Weem’s made up story about the Cherry Tree.

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According to Parson Weems, the author who gave us the Cherry Tree Story, writes a long story and morale (starts on Page 205) about that “insult” Lt Colonel Adam Stephen mentions: 

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Colonel Washington makes a remark and is knocked down to the ground.

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Quote from Parson Weems  —

“…the contest ran high between Colonel George Fairfax, and Mr. Elzey.

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Washington was the warm friend of Fairfax: and a Mr. Payne headed the friends of Elzey.

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A dispute happening to take place in the court-house yard, Washington, a thing very uncommon with him, became warm ; and, which was still more uncommon, said something that offended Payne ;

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whereupon the little gentleman, who, though but a cub high in size, was the old lion in heart, raised his sturdy hickory, and, at a single blow, brought our hero to the ground.

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Several of Washington’s officers being present, whipped out their cold irons in an instant : and it was believed that there would have been murder off-hand. “  — End Quote by Parson Weems

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Parson Weems continues.

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Colonel Washington recovered and thanked his men for their love but that no revenge is necessary.  Washington then went to his room and thought of what reaction he should have.

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Quote from Parson Weems —

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“… he went to his room, generously chastising his imprudence, which had thus struck up a spark that had like to have thrown the whole town into a flame.

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Finding on mature reflection, that he had been the aggressor, he resolved to make Mr. Payne honourable reparation, by asking his pardon on the morrow !

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… The next day he went to a tavern, and wrote a polite note to Mr. Payne, whom he requested to meet him.

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Mr. Payne took it for a challenge, and repaired to the tavern, not without expecting to see a pair of pistols produced.

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But what was his surprise on entering the chamber, to see a decanter of wine and glasses on the table !

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Washington arose, and in a very friendly manner met him ; and gave him his hand. ” Mr. Payne,” said he, ” to err is nature : to rectify error is glory.

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I find I was wrong yesterday : but I wish to be right today. You have had some satisfaction : and if you think that sufficient, here’s my hand ; let us be friends.”

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End Quote by Parson Weems

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Any sources other than Parson Weems’ story or Adam Stephen’s letter?

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Short answer?

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No.

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Any idea on what GW said to William Payne?

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No.

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See 2 references to a William Payne in Truro vestry election 10 years later in 1765. and in Fairfax County election 1765. And both William Payne and Lewis Elzey were the first 2 Sheriffs of Fairfax County.

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But this link on the Payne family has more detail.

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We don’t know if there were any contemporary letters written at the time with this detail in it. We don’t know if this is just oral tradition handed down the ages through the Payne family:

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Quote:

There was to be a meeting, in the Fall of 1755, in Alexandria, Fairfax County to chose a delegate to represent the county in the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg. As it rained on the particular day appointed Col. George Washington (23), who was just a few month’s “flush with the laurels of Braddock’s Field,” assumed that the meeting would be postponed. Washington’s regiment at the time was still at Fort Cumberland. Next day he showed up for the meeting and was outraged that it had in fact gone ahead and that the assembled gentlemen and planters had made a selection without him being present. There was a heated argument between him, representing the losing candidate, and William Payne, representing the successful. In impetous anger the Colonel referred to William Payne as something other than a southern gentleman. The small and slender William (31) instantly took his hickory walking stick and lashed out in the public square. He knocked George Washington down. Washington’s officers immediately whipped out their cold irons. Washington stopped any further developments. This settled the matter for the day. Next day Mr Payne received a polite message that Washington wanted to meet him at a certain tavern nearby. He went with the feeling that there was to be a challenge to a duel. Greeting him in a friendly way Washington ushered him to a table at the back where there was a bottle of wine. He apologised for what he had said, saying he had no right to speak like that. William was deeply moved. Where upon the two men drank toasts to each others health and became friends. Some time later William visited Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. Washington introduced his wife, Martha, to the man who, he said, had the courage to attack him even though he, Washington, was a much bigger man.”

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(Excerpted by Ken Harvey from THE PAYNES OF VIRGINIA, based on Parson Weems’s “Life of Washington.”)

End Quote.

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Source:

http://strongfamilytree.org/getperson.php?personID=I4808&tree=STR06

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This link refers to the same story above, but in addition it explains more of the relationships between the Fairfax family and the Payne family and the Washington family:

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https://patch.com/virginia/herndon/the-oldest-house-in-herndon-the-colonial-era-home-of-george-payne

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Any Historian thinks this story True?

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Yes.

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To Douglas Southall Freeman, this Parson Weems story seems partiallly legitimate

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Page 146-147 Douglas Southall Freeman’s Young Washington Volume 2, published by Charles Scribner & Sons, 1948.

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Start of Quote:

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“This is one of the Washington traditions that appears to be well founded.

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It was credited by McGuire, who was not uncritical.

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Bishop Meade found it still current and unadorned among Payne’s descendants.

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All the relevant circumstances fit the story: Washington was in Alexandria; Payne participated in the election; his vote and that of his father are of record.

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The only demonstrable major error in the tradition is that Payne is said to have been a supporter of Ellzey’s when, in fact, he and his father voted for John West and for West only.

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Minor details, of course, are inaccurate — as for example, that Washington’s troops were in Alexandria at the time. A letter from Adam Stephen to Washington, written December 23, 1755, is strong confirmatory evidence. Stephen mentioned the indignation prevailing at Fort Cumberland, “upon hearing you were insulted in the at the Fairfax elections . . .”

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Perhaps as equally good reason for crediting the tradition is the fact Washington’s reported action accords absolutely with the standard of conduct he avowed in his letter to Dinwiddie …” 

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End quote of Douglas Southall Freeman.

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This letter Douglas Southall Freeman references is the letter Colonel GW writes to Lt Gov Dinwiddie, August 27, 1757:

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“…that it is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due; because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one.”

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The religious opinions and character of Washington published 1836 by McGuire, E. C. (Edward Charles)  has a chapter on what GW thought of dueling, entitled His Views on Dueling. See Page 329.

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This is Bishop Meade’version on center of page 253 of the Parson Weems story, referencing mistakenly a Captain Washington, who, was at the time, Colonel Washington, overall commander of Virginia forces:

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Quote:

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“Washington in ‘word and deed condemned duelling.

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Nearly all our great men have done it by word, but, if they have not recommended it by deed, have been afraid to say that they might not so do, either by giving or receiving a challenge.

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When a young man in Alexandria and an officer in the army, a quarrel ensued on an election-day, in which he used strong and offensive language to one who, with a stick, prostrated him to the ground.

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On the following day he sought an interview with his antagonist, when it was fully expected that another reencounter or the preliminaries for one would take place.

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Instead of this, Captain Washington, conscious of being in fault, declared that the interview was sought in order to acknowledge it.

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Here was true greatness of soul.”

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End Quote.

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More links on this incident:

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More information on this story and the people involved might be in here, We just cannot get to the section on that Fairfax election.

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Click on this link and Ctrl F to find “payne” and you will see a screen play’s version of Parson Weem’s story.

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See Another link on the story of William Payne knocking down Colonel George Washington.

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Back to Robert T Barton


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He did not have the benefit

of “online” easy access  which exists today

and despite the errors,

this little book has some interesting observations.

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The First Election of Washington to the House of Burgesses,

Paper read before the Virginia Historical Society,

Tuesday December 22, 1891,

by Mr. R.T. Barton

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More on Robert T Barton

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_T._Barton

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List of Robert Thomas Barton’s writings:

http://0-www.worldcat.org.novacat.nova.edu/identities/lccn-n85808133/

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https://web.archive.org/web/20070927142907/http://www.vba.org/history.htm

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https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Encyclopedia_of_Virginia_Biography_volume_5.djvu/211

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ROBERT T BARTON BIO

Confederate Army

He prepared for the study of law and after the required examination was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1865, after a service of several years in the Confederate army, one of six brothers to offer themselves for military service at the beginning of the war, two of these giving up their lives on the field of battle. Robert T. Barton enlisted in the First Virginia Brigade, commanded until his death by General Thomas J. Jackson (“Stonewall”).

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Lawyer

After the war he was admitted to the bar, began practice in Winchester, where he yet continues. He was senior member of the highly rated legal firm, Barton & Boyd, established in 1869 and continuing until 1910. Mr. Barton is a member of the State Bar Association, of which he is an ex-president. He has been admitted to all state and Federal courts of the district, and for more than two-score years has been a familiar and prominent figure in the legal world, not only as a learned and successful practitioner but as the author of standard law works. In 1878 he published “Barton’s Law Practice,” and in 1909 “Virginia–Colonial Decisions.” His practice, always a large one, has always been conducted on the highest plane of legal ethics, while his research and literary ability has enriched the legal literature of his profession. While the law has ever been to him a jealous mistress, he has given considerable of his time and a great deal of his interest to the public service and to public affairs.

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Offices

He served his district in the Virginia legislature from 1883 to 1885. and from 1899 to 1903 he was mayor of Winchester. In 1902 he was elected president of the Farmers’ and Merchants’ National Bank of Winchester, and still continues the honored head of this solid and conservative financial institution.

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Political Party

He is a Democrat in politics, but during the “free silver” heresy remained true to the Cleveland wing of his party. He is an attendant of the Protestant Episcopal church, and of various professional, social and fraternal organizations of high standing.
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Source

Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume V

http://arlisherring.com/tng/getperson.php?personID=I097266&tree=Herring

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And then there’s Frederick County’s sister county Augusta.

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They were both created in 1738 and stretched out to the Ohio and Mississippi indefinitely.

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They were named for a married couple,

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But while GW lost his election, a riot occurred at the December 1755 election in Augusta.

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Friday April 23, 1756.

PETITION of Richard Woods, David Cloyd and Joseph Lapsley, was presented
A ^ to tne House and read, setting forth, That they are attending, in Custody
of the Serjeant at Arms, in Obedience to the Order of this House, for having
been guilty of a Riot, and interrupting the Election of Burgesses, for the County
of Augusta. That they are altogether innocent of the Matter with which they are
charged, as they were so sar from being concerned in, or encouraging the Tumult, that
happened on that Occasion, that the Petitioner Woods often applied to the Sheriff, de-
siring him to command Assistance to suppress the same, and offering his own Assistance
therein. All which they can prove by many Witnesses, whose Depositions are taken
and sworn to before a Magistrate in that County, as their personal Attendance, at so
great a Distance, especially at this Time, when their Families would be exposed to Dan-
ger from the Enemy, in their Absence, would be very inconvenient, and submitting
themselves to the Judgment of this House, and praying to be discharged out of Custody.
Ordered, That the said Petition be referr’d to the Committee of Privileges and Elec-
tions; that they do examine into the Allegations thereof, and report the same, with
their Opinion thereupon, to the House,

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Page 381  …

Journal of the House of Burgesses of its session starting March 25, 1756

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Mr Attorney, from the Committee of Privileges and Elections, reported, that the
Committee had had under their Consideration the Petition of Richard Woods, David
Cloyd and Joseph Lapsley to them referred, and had agreed upon a Report, and come
to two Resolutions thereupon, which he read in his Place, and then delivered in
at the Table, where they were again twice read, and agreed to by the House as
follows.
The Witness William Lusk deposed that he saw the said Woods, Cloyd and Lapsley
go peaceably and quietly into the Court House, and give their Votes, and then come
out again, and that he saw no Misbehaviour in them, during the Poll, and that he, the
Deponent, was appointed by the Sheriff to stand at the Bar, to keep the Voters from
crowding in too sast.
Resolved, That the further Consideration of the said Matter ought to be referred to
the next Session of Assembly.
Resolved, That as well, the Sheriff of the said County of Augusta, as the said Woods,
Cloyd and Lapsley, be at Liberty to examine Witnesses, touching the Behaviour of any
Person or Persons, in the Day appointed for the Election of Bugesses, to serve in this pres-
ent General Assembly, before any Magistrate of the said County, giving to each other
ten Days Notice of the Time and Place of Examination, and that the Depositions, so
to be taken, be returned to the Clerk of this House, before the Meeting of the next
Session of Assembly.
Ordered, That the said Woods, Cloyd and Lapsley, be discharged out of Custody,
without paying Fees.

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Page 383   . . .

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