This biography examines the political journey of James McDowell, a Democratic governor from western Virginia during the Jacksonian Era. The journey was shaped by the crosscurrents of a national debate over slavery, democratic advances, and the Jackson’s controversial agenda.
A progressive, he joined the state’s House of Delegates in 1833, pushing for the end of slavery in the Commonwealth, economic improvements, and a system of public education. Called an abolitionist, he ended his anti-slavery campaign, enlarged his plantation holdings, and climbed the political ladder. In 1843, he became governor and congressman until his death in 1851.
The author covers regional and national issues, the multiple burdens of his wife, Susan, who was left alone with her children at home, and other personal crises. An intellectual, noted orator, and diligent party activist, McDowell often opposed the status quo and was an important moderate voice who defended the Constitution at a time of severe sectional divide.
Charles A. Bodie received his PhD in history from Indiana University and has taught at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and the Virginia Military Institute.
Chapter 1: Father’s Legacy
Chapter 2: Early Years
Chapter 3: Exploring Politics
Chapter 4: House of Delegates Debut
Chapter 5: Jacksonian Democrat
Chapter 6: New Places, New Ideas
Chapter 7: Governor
Chapter 8: Family Ties
Chapter 9: Congressman
Chapter 10: The Road Home