Tag Archives: John Letcher

- Vote For Me! Governor’s Election Records at the Library of Virginia

As everyone should be aware, it’s almost time to vote for a new governor of Virginia. Election Day is next Tuesday, 7 November, but going to the polls today can be rather boring compared to elections of the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition to casting a vote, early elections were an occasion to gather at the courthouse, socialize, have drinks, and catch up on the latest news. Over time, laws and regulations imposed a more serious and sober atmosphere on the elections: an act was passed in 1838 prohibiting betting, and another to prevent drunkenness and disorder was passed in 1866.

The Library of Virginia contains a variety of resources on elections, including election returns in both published and manuscripts sources. The website for the Virginia Department of Elections (formerly called the State Board of Elections) shows a variety of returns. The Library has also developed research guides and bibliographies for Presidential and Congressional Election Returns, Gubernatorial and State Office Elections Results, and Published Returns. A collection of materials related to the electoral college has also been digitized.

 

In addition to the two laws mentioned above, Virginia’s electoral processes have seen a number of changes over the past four hundred years.

Starting in colonial times and well into the 19th century, voters stated their vote publicly to the … read more »

- Dear Governor

Note: This stack of envelopes from the Gravely Family Papers (Acc. 34126) is used as an illustration for this post. Actual letters from Governor Letcher's papers are scanned below.

Editor’s Note: Guest contributor Brent Tarter offers the following post, pointing out some interesting finds made by the creators of the Library of Virginia’s Union or Secession exhibition.

During Virginia’s secession crisis in the winter and spring of 1860-1861, men and women across the state wrote to Governor John Letcher to comment on public affairs. They wrote to tell the governor what to do, to ask for help, to offer advice and assistance, or to get something off their chests. While researching in preparation for the Library of Virginia’s exhibition, Union or Secession: Virginians Decide , we spent time looking through the letters received by Governor Letcher. Like the records of every Virginia governor since 1776, the letters are preserved in Record Group 3 of the state’s archives in the Library of Virginia. The Governor’s Office records are an extremely rich source for the beliefs and words of ordinary Virginians.

During 1860 and 1861 the governor received letters from men and women in every part of the state who expressed every possible opinion and political allegiance. “I would like to Know from you what is to prevent me from Voting for Lincoln,” Giles County resident John M. Smith asked Governor Letcher in September 1860. “As he is the man I prefer. the reason of this letter is that there is a great deal of threatning on … read more »