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Background Information on Senator Benjamin Watkins Leigh

Judy C. Ware
January 2009

     Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born in 1781 in Chesterfield County, Virginia. He attended school at William and Mary College, practiced law in Petersburg, Virginia in 1802, and later served in the War of 1812.  During the time he was writing to Josiah Ware in 1836 and 1839, Leigh was serving as a reporter of the Virginia Court of Appeals (1829-41) and United States Senator.  He had been elected to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Rives, and was reelected in 1835 and served until his resignation on July 4, 1836.  He served under President John Tyler.  One of the letters from Leigh to Josiah Ware directly dealt with a case that had appeared before the Court of Appeals and shows a judgment found in favor of Josiah.

     B.W. Leigh had the distinction of being a founding member of the Virginia Historical Society (1831) and served as first chairman of its standing committee.  After his service in the Senate, Benjamin Leigh resumed his law practice in Richmond Virginia and died there in 1849. 

 

Bibliography

Dictionary of American Biography ; Hall, Cline Edwin. “The Political Life of Benjamin Watkins Leigh.” Master’s thesis, University of Richmond, 1959; Macfarland, William H. An Address on the Life, Character, and Public Services of the Late Hon. Benjamin Watkins Leigh . Richmond: Macfarlane and Fergusson, 1851.

Hall, Cline Edwin. “The Political Life of Benjamin Watkins Leigh.” Master’s thesis, University of Richmond, 1959.

Macfarland, William H. An Address on the Life, Character, and Public Services of the Late Honorable Benjamin Watkins Leigh . Richmond: Macfarlane & Fergusson, 1851.

Steiner, Bruce E. “The Prelude to Conservatism, 1781-1822: An Account of the Early Life, First Ventures into Politics, and Legal Career of Benjamin Watkins Leigh.” Master’s thesis, University of Virginia, 1959.


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