This Day (Trio of Birthdays Edition)

Published:December 6, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1637, Sir Edmund Andros was born in London. He wasn’t actually born a knight, of course, but he got there eventually. He also got to Virginia, as royal governor, in 1692, serving for six years. Up to that point, the main line on his résumé was his stint as governor of the Dominion of New England; that went so well he ended up being imprisoned by his constituents. He was only slightly more popular in Virginia.

Also on this day, in 1806, Henry Alexander Wise was born in Drummondtown (now Accomac), Virginia. Wise also grew up to be governor and held that office on the occasion of John Brown‘s raid on Harpers Ferry. At the Secession Convention in 1861, Wise dramatically revealed that Virginia militia units had pledged their loyalty to him personally—not to the state—and were en route to capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Perhaps he was not so much a states’ rights guy as a personal rights guy. Whatever the case, the delegate who rose most forcefully to object was the unfortunately named John Brown Baldwin.

And a third birthday: John Singleton Mosby was born on this day in 1833 at his grandfather’s house in Powhatan County. Mosby did not grow up to be a governor; he preferred (pardon the cliché) straight shooting. As the leader of Mosby’s Rangers, he had plenty to shoot at, but more interesting was his no-b.s. approach to postbellum life. In an 1894 letter to Dr. Aristides Monteiro, Mosby wrote that slavery was certainly a cause of the war, despite protests by others to the contrary: “I notice that … [one Lost Cause apologist] says the charge that the South went to war for slavery is ‘a slanderous accusation.’ I always understood that we went to War on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about. I never heard of any other cause of quarrel than slavery.”

A version of this post was originally published on December 6, 2011.

NOTA BENE: In sixth grade I absolutely devoured this book: Confederate Surgeon: Aristides Monteiro (1969) by Sylvia G. L. Dannett.

IMAGES: Portrait of Sir Edmund Andros by Mary Beale (Virginia Historical Society); Henry A. Wise (Library of Congress); Colonel John Singleton Mosby, Richmond 1865 (Library of Congress)