LETCHER, John, a Representative from Virginia; born in Lexington, Rockbridge County, Va., March 29, 1813; attended private rural schools and Randolph-Macon College; was graduated from Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University), Lexington, Va., in 1833; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Lexington, Va., in 1839; editor of the Valley Star from 1840 to 1850; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1850; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1851-March 3, 1859); was not a candidate for renomination in 1858, having become a candidate for Governor; Governor of Virginia 1860-1864; 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 war; discouraged secession, but was active in sustaining the ordinance passed by Virginia April 17, 1861; after the war and the expiration of his term as Governor resumed the practice of law in Lexington; member of the State house of delegates 1875-1877; member of the board of visitors of the Virginia Military Institute 1866-1880 and served as president of the board for ten years; again resumed the practice of law in Lexington, Va., where he died on January 26, 1884; interment in the Presbyterian Cemetery.
BibliographyBoney, F.N. John Letcher of Virginia; The Story of Virginia’s Civil War Governor. University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1966.
Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present