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William Cabell Rives

William Cabell Rives (May 4, 1793 – April 25, 1868) was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France.

Contents

Early life

Rives was born at "Union Hill", the estate of his grandfather, Col. William Cabell, in Amherst County, Virginia. The estate was located along the James River in what is now Nelson County. His parents were Robert (1764–1845) and Margaret Cabell (c.1770–1815) Rives. His brothers included Alexander Rives. Rives was the great-uncle of Alexander Brown, author of several books on the early history of Virginia and of The Cabells and their Kin (1895).[1] After private schooling, William Cabell Rives attended Hampden-Sydney College and then the College of William and Mary until 1809.

Leaving Williamsburg, he studied law with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and was admitted to the bar at Richmond in 1814. Rives began his law practice in Nelson County, but in 1819 he married Judith Page Walker (1802–1882) and moved to the estate she had inherited, named Castle Hill near Cobham in Albemarle County. (Cobham is about 12 miles east of Charlottesville.) This would remain his home for the rest of his life.

Political career

William Cabell Rives

Rives' political career began when he served in the state constitutional convention in 1816. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1817–19 for Nelson County, and again in 1822 for Albemarle County. In 1823 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served from 1823 to 1829. From 1829 to 1832 he was appointed by Andrew Jackson as minister to France. His name was brought forward as a candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1835, but the nomination by the 1835 Democratic National Convention ultimately went to Richard M. Johnson.

When Rives returned from France, he was elected to complete a term in the United States Senate. In all he would serve parts of three terms there, the last as a member of the Whig Party. From 1849 to 1853, he was again minister to France. In 1860 he endorsed the call for a Constitutional Union Party Convention, where he received most of Virginia's first ballot votes for President.

In February 1861 he was a delegate to the Peace Conference in Washington; he opposed secession, but was loyal to his state when it seceded. He represented the state in the Provisional Confederate Congress from 1861 to 1862 and served in the Second Confederate Congress from 1864 to 1865 during the Civil War.

Post Civil War

Rives died at the country estate of "Castle Hill" in 1868 and is buried in a family plot there. He was the author of several books, the most important being his Life and Times of James Madison (3 vols., Boston, 1859–68). He served on the Board of Visitors for the University of Virginia from 1834 to 1849, and was for many years the president of the Virginia Historical Society.

His son, Alfred Landon Rives, was an engineer of some prominence, and his granddaughter Amélie Rives became well known as a novelist, her best known book being The Quick or the Dead? (1888).

Notes and references

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas L. Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th congressional district

March 4, 1823 – Mid-1829
Succeeded by
William F. Gordon
United States Senate
Preceded by
Littleton W. Tazewell
United States Senator (Class 2) from Virginia
December 10, 1832 – February 22, 1834
Served alongside: John Tyler, Jr.
Succeeded by
Benjamin W. Leigh
Preceded by
John Tyler, Jr.
United States Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
March 4, 1836 – March 3, 1839
Served alongside: Richard E. Parker, William H. Roane
Succeeded by
William C. Rives
Preceded by
William C. Rives
United States Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1845
Served alongside: William S. Archer
Succeeded by
Isaac S. Pennybacker
Political offices
Preceded by
None
Delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress from Virginia
April 29, 1861 – February 16, 1862
Succeeded by
None
Confederate States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James P. Holcombe
Member of the C.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

February 17, 1864 – March 7, 1865
Succeeded by
None
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James Brown
Minister to France
Mid-1829 – 1832
Succeeded by
Edward Livingston
Preceded by
Richard Rush
Minister to France
1849–1853
Succeeded by
John Y. Mason
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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