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William Evelyn Cameron

Portrait photograph of Governor William E. Cameron

Governor of Virginia
In office
1882 – 1886
Lieutenant John F. Lewis
Preceded by Frederick W. M. Holliday
Succeeded by Fitzhugh Lee

Born November 29, 1842
Petersburg, Virginia, USA
Died January 25, 1927
Louisa County, Virginia, USA
Political party Readjuster Party
Spouse(s) Louisa Cameron
Profession Politician, Lawyer

William Evelyn Cameron (November 29, 1842 – January 25, 1927) was a soldier, lawyer, journalist, and politician. He served as Governor of Virginia from 1882-1886. He was the candidate of the Readjuster Party headed by William T. Mahone.


Early Life and Career

William Evelyn Cameron was born in Petersburg, Virginia. His parents were Walker Anderson Cameron and Elizabeth Page Walker Cameron. He attended local schools, then a military academy in Hillsboro, North Carolina.

Cameron briefly attended Washington College in St. Louis, Missouri, and received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.


American Civil War

When the American Civil War started, he abandoned his preparatory studies and joined the Confederate Army, serving throughout the war.


After the war, Cameron returned to Petersburg, where he married Louisa Clarinda Egerton (1846-1908) on October 1, 1868. They had three children.


He initially began practicing law. However, he decided to pursue a career in journalism and edited newspapers in Petersburg, Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia.

Hughes Duel

In 1869, Cameron fought a duel with Robert William Hughes, after Cameron criticized Hughes in print for the opportunism of changing his political views from pre-war Secessionist to post-war Republican. According to one account, "the parties met at Chester Station, on the Petersburg Railroad; but, before they could exchange a shot, the police made their appearance, and caused a flight of the parties. They passed into North Carolina, where they fought on the 12th of June with pistols. Cameron was hit in the breast at the first fire, the ball striking a rib and glancing. Hughes demanded another fire, but the surgeons declared that Cameron could not deliver another shot, and the affair ended 'to the satisfaction of all parties.'"[1]

Political career

Cameron served as mayor of Petersburg from 1876 to 1882. In 1881, he was the candidate of the Readjuster Party headed by William T. Mahone and was elected governor of Virginia. During his term from 1882-1886, he attempted to implement his party's programs of debt reduction and racial integration in certain areas.

After his term as governor ended in 1886, Cameron briefly left Virginia, before returning and resuming a career in politics as more conservative politician. Cameron represented Petersburg in the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902. He served as editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper from 1906 to 1919.

William Evelyn Cameron died on January 25, 1927 at the home of one of his sons in Louisa County, Virginia. He was buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Mott, Frank (2000). American Journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United States Through 250 Years, 1690-1940. Routledge (accessed via Google Books). ISBN 0415241448.  
Political offices
Preceded by
Frederick W. M. Holliday
Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Fitzhugh Lee


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