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James Pleasants, Jr.


In office
December 14, 1819 – December 15, 1822
Preceded by John W. Eppes
Succeeded by John Taylor

In office
December 1, 1822 – December 10, 1825
Preceded by Thomas M. Randolph, Jr.
Succeeded by John Tyler, Jr.

Born October 24, 1769
Powhatan County, Virginia
Died November 9, 1836 (aged 67)
Goochland County, Virginia
Political party Democratic-Republican

James Pleasants, Jr. (1769–1836) was an American politician who served in the U.S. Senate from 1819 to 1822 and was the 22nd Governor of Virginia from 1822 to 1825. Pleasants was born at “Cold Comfort,” in Powhatan County, Virginia, October 24, 1769. He pursued classical studies and graduated from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. He studied law and was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Amelia County, Virginia in 1791.

Pleasants was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates 1797-1802 and clerk of the house of delegates 1803-1811. On January 30, 1811, he was appointed to the Court of Appeals but resigned almost immediately. Pleasants was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Twelfth and to the four succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1811, to December 14, 1819, when he resigned, having been elected a United States Senator. Pleasants served as chairman of the Committee on Public Expenditures (Thirteenth Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy (Fifteenth Congress).

He was elected on December 10, 1819, as a Democrat-Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John W. Eppes and served from December 14, 1819, to December 15, 1822, when he resigned. He was also chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs (Sixteenth and Seventeenth Congresses). He was chosen as Governor of Virginia, serving 1822-1825. Pleasants was a delegate to the State constitutional conventions in 1829 and 1830. He retired and lived on his estate, “Contention,” near Goochland, Goochland County, Virginia, where he died on November 9, 1836. He was buried on his estate. His brother-in-law and law partner, Eugene C. Massie, named his son James Pleasants Massie, after Pleasants. The name has been handed down, now to a total of four generations.

In one version of her memoirs dictated to her god-daughter, Charlotte Downs, abolitionist leader and San Francisco entrepreneur Mary Ellen Pleasant claimed she was born a slave to a Voodoo priestess and the youngest son of Gov. Pleasants.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John W. Eppes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th congressional district

March 4, 1811 - March 3, 1813
Succeeded by
John W. Eppes
Preceded by
Thomas Gholson, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 17th congressional district

March 4, 1813 - December 14, 1819
Succeeded by
William S. Archer
United States Senate
Preceded by
John W. Eppes
United States Senator (Class 2) from Virginia
December 14, 1819 - December 15, 1822
Served alongside: James Barbour
Succeeded by
John Taylor
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas M. Randolph
Governor of Virginia
December 1, 1822 - December 10, 1825
Succeeded by
John Tyler, Jr.
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