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George Blow

Union or Secession
George Blow (1813–1894)
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GEORGE BLOW (1813–1894)

George Blow (5 May 1813–2 May 1894), member of the Convention of 1861, was born in Sussex County, the son of George Blow and Elizabeth Waller Blow. He grew up in the household of his maternal grandmother in Norfolk, was educated at the College of William and Mary, and studied law at the University of Virginia. Blow became a lawyer in Portsmouth before moving about 1839 to Texas, where he practiced law in San Antonio and became a prosecuting attorney. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and represented Bexar County in the 5th Congress of the Republic of Texas from November 1840 to February 1841.

Blow returned to Norfolk after his mother died in 1841 and practiced law in Virginia for the next twenty years. On 27 August 1846 he married Elizabeth Taylor Allmand, of Norfolk. They had six daughters and four sons. Active in the local militia, Blow rose by 28 April 1860 to the rank of brigadier general of the 9th Brigade, 4th Division. Blow served on the board of the Virginia Military Institute from 1851 to 1852, 1857 to 1860, and 1861 to 1862. He was reportedly a friend of Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas and ran unsuccessfully for presidential elector on Douglas's ticket in November 1860.

On 26 January 1861 Blow was the overwhelming choice of a mass meeting of Norfolk Unionists to represent the city in that year's state convention on the secession question, and on 4 February he defeated James R. Hubard, a secessionist, by a margin of more than two to one. In the convention Blow served on the Committee on Federal Relations and joined in efforts to encourage peaceful federal acceptance of the departure of those states that had already seceded. On 4 April he voted against secession, but the night before the second vote on secession he abandoned all hopes of preserving the Union. On 17 April 1861 he voted for secession, and the next day he was appointed to the seven-man Committee on Military Affairs.

Elements of his old militia brigade were formed into the new 41st Regiment Virginia Infantry later in the spring of 1861, and on 8 July Blow received a commission as lieutenant colonel of the regiment. He served until 3 May 1862 when, for unrecorded reasons, he was not reelected in a reorganization of the regiment. Blow returned to Norfolk, where he was arrested and paroled during the Union occupation of the city.

After the Civil War, Blow resumed the practice of law. On 25 March 1870 the General Assembly elected sixteen circuit court judges to preside over the state's principal trial courts established under the Constitution of 1869. Blow became judge of the First Judicial Circuit, composed of the city of Norfolk and the counties of Isle of Wight, Nansemond, Norfolk, Princess Anne, Southampton, and Surry. He served as circuit court judge until he retired at the end of 1886. George Blow died of a heart attack at his home in Norfolk on 2 May 1894 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery there.

Contributed by Guy R. Swanson

This biography, with a bibliographical note, appears in John T. Kneebone et al., eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: The Library of Virginia, 1998– ), 2:31–32.

Copyright 2001 by the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved.