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John Watson

Member From: 1869 - 1871

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  • Birth Date: Unknown Birth Place:Unknown
  • Death Date: December 6, 1869
  • Gender: Male Race: African American
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  • Memberships/Affiliations: Boydton Freedmen’s School
  • Additional Info Links: Bio from Encyclopedia Virginia
    Bio from Virginia's Martin Luther King Jr. Commission
  • Additional Info: 1869-1871 Assembly-John Watson died, and Ross Hamilton was elected to fill his seat.
  • Bio: John Watson was a member of the Convention of 1867–1868 and of the House of Delegates (1869–1870). Born into slavery, he was owned at the time of the American Civil War (1861–1865) by a lawyer in Mecklenburg County and worked as a shoemaker after the war. Almost nothing is known of his life up to that time, although he had not learned to read or write. Watson served as a trustee for a Freedmen’s School, although he seemed to have earned the animosity of some whites. He was considered to be intelligent and a good orator. In 1867, he won election to the constitutional convention and voted with the radical reformers and introduced three resolutions himself. After the killing of a black politician in Charlotte County, Watson and several others spoke there and were arrested for inciting violence; the charges were later dropped. In 1869 he was elected to the House of Delegates as a Republican from Mecklenburg County and voted to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He died while in office.

  • Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: Virginia Constitutional Convention: 1867
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1869-1871 Mecklenberg

*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at history@house.virginia.gov.

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