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John Walter Boyd Matthews
Member From: 1871 - 1873
- Birth Date: 1840 Birth Place:Petersburg
- Death Date: July 11, 1879
- Gender: Male Race: African American
- Spouse: Frances E. V. R. Gilliam (m. May 28, 1873)
- Children: 1 son and two daughters
- Religion: Baptist
- Military Service:
- Occupation/Profession: Barber and Deputy customs collector
Additional Info Links:
Bio from Virginia's Martin Luther King Jr. Commission
Encyclopedia Virginia Biography
- Bio: John Walter Boyd Matthews, member of the House of Delegates (1871–1873), was born free in 1840 in Petersburg. His mother named him after the white planter who bequeathed land and enslaved workers to her and was her father. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) he worked as a barber and in May 1870 he had a job in the city’s customs house. In 1871 he won election to a two-year term in the House of Delegates representing Petersburg. Active in the legislature, Matthews introduced bills, made motions, and spoke more than most Black delegates. Aggressive, if not successful, his failed propositions included abolishing chain gangs for prisoners, raising taxes on alcoholic beverages, and pushing for laws to enforce the state constitution that guaranteed equal rights to all citizens. Matthews was a founding officer of the Petersburg Grant and Wilson Club and served as deputy collector at the City Point customs house. In 1875 he attended a state convention in Richmond that addressed the political and economic discrimination faced by African Americans in Virginia. Mathews died of a stroke at his home in Petersburg on July 11, 1879.
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