Henry Carter Stuart

Last updated
Henry Carter Stuart
H.C. Stuart.jpg
47th Governor of Virginia
In office
February 1, 1914 February 1, 1918
Preceded by William Hodges Mann
Succeeded by Westmoreland Davis
Member of the Virginia State
Corporation Commission
In office
March 1, 1903 February 28, 1908
Preceded by None (commission formed)
Succeeded by William F. Rhea
Personal details
Born January 18, 1855
Wytheville, Virginia, USA
Died July 24, 1933 (aged 78)
Russell County, Virginia, USA
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Margaret Bruce Carter
Profession Politician, farmer and businessman

Henry Carter Stuart (January 18, 1855 July 24, 1933) was an American businessman and politician from Virginia. Between 1914 and 1918, he served as the 47th Governor of Virginia, a period which encompassed World War I. [1]

Governor of Virginia head of state and of government of the U.S. commonwealth of Virginia

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The current holder of the office is Democrat Ralph Northam, who was sworn in on January 13, 2018.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.


Early and Family Life

The eldest of seven sons born to William Alexander Stuart (1826 - 1892) and his wife Mary Taylor Carter Stuart (1831 - 1862), Henry Carter Stuart was born in Wytheville, Virginia. He also had an elder sister, Eliza, who died in 1862. The family owned thousands of acres of ranch land in southwest Virginia, built over generations, including through marriage alliances. Henry Carter Stuart ultimately lived at East Rosedale, a mansion which a maternal ancestor had purchased from Patrick Henry in 1774, and which had been a fort guarding the Clinch River valley during the American Revolutionary War. [2] His paternal grandfather, Archibald Stuart, a lawyer and U.S. Congressman, had several sons, one of whom (Henry's uncle) became Confederate Civil War Cavalry Commander Jeb Stuart. [3] [4]

Wytheville, Virginia Town in Virginia, United States

Wytheville is a town in, and the county seat of, Wythe County, in western Virginia, United States. It is named after George Wythe, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. Wytheville's population was 8,211 at the 2010 census. Interstate Highways 77 and 81 were constructed to intersect at the town, long a crossroads for travelers.

Patrick Henry 18th-century American attorney, planter, and politician

Patrick Henry was an American attorney, planter, and orator best known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention (1775): "Give me liberty, or give me death!" A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.

Clinch River river in the United States of America

The Clinch River rises near Tazewell, Virginia, and flows southwest for more than 300 miles (480 km) through the Great Appalachian Valley, gathering various tributaries, including the Powell River, before joining the Tennessee River in Kingston, Tennessee.

A graduate of Emory and Henry College (1874), Henry married his cousin, Margaret Bruce Carter in 1896, but they had no children. His nephew of the same name, but nicknamed Harry Carter Stuart (1893-1963), son of this Stuart's brother and business partner Dale Carter Stuart, later became a Virginia State Senator and was active in the Massive Resistance movement.

Emory and Henry College Private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Emory, Virginia, United States

Emory & Henry College is a private liberal arts college in Emory, Virginia. The campus comprises 335 acres (1.36 km2) of Washington County, which is part of the Appalachian highlands of Southwest Virginia. Founded in 1836, Emory & Henry College is the oldest institution of higher learning in Southwest Virginia.

Harry Carter Stuart was a Virginia cattle breeder and trader, who also served as the Democratic State Senator from the 18th District. A lifelong Democrat, Carter helped lead the Byrd Organization's policy of Massive Resistance to racial integration in Virginia's public schools.


Stuart was born to wealth, and became wealthier. Upon their father's death in 1893, he and his brothers Alexander ("Zan") and Dale Carter Stuart took over their father's salt company (which by then had become a cattle company). They built Stuart Land & Cattle into the largest cattle company east of the Mississippi River, with 50,000 agricultural acres in four counties. Generations of fathers and sons worked for the company, and many lived in its semi-feudal company towns which attempted to control their access to liquor. The cattle company and other Stuart enterprises also controlled extensive coal and timber reserves. Ironically, Henry Stuart's only child, Mary Fulton, rebelled against her father's country lifestyle and values.

Stuart started his political activity in 1893, after their father's death. He organizing a statewide referendum for popular election of senators because his favorite candidate, Fitzhugh Lee (former governor and a grandson of Robert E. Lee) had not been selected for U.S. Senate from Virginia by the Virginia General Assembly, which instead elevated an obscure railroad attorney, Thomas Staples Martin. Over the years, Stuart became more aligned with the Democratic political machine run by Martin, but favored farmers more than railroads. Thus, Stuart at the State Corporation Commission regulated railroads and increased what had been extremely low corporate taxes, all of which were popular statewide.

Fitzhugh Lee Confederate Army general

Fitzhugh Lee was a Confederate cavalry general in the American Civil War, the 40th Governor of Virginia, diplomat, and United States Army general in the Spanish–American War. He was the son of Sydney Smith Lee, a captain in the Confederate States Navy, and the nephew of General Robert E. Lee.

Robert E. Lee General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States

Robert Edward Lee was an American and Confederate soldier, best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. A son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.

Virginia General Assembly legislative body of Virginia, United States

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia's clerk is known as the "Clerk of the Senate".

As Russell County's delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902, Stuart helped reform the Reconstruction Era Underwood constitution in many ways. However the new 1902 Constitution also instituted poll taxes and other requirements which disenfranchised many African Americans and poor whites, but facilitated the growth of the Martin political machine, which later became the Byrd Organization. Stuart also served in the State Corporation Commission from 1902 to 1908. [5] Although Stuart wanted to run for Governor in 1909, he acceded to Martin's advice and instead ran for U.S. Congress, but lost to six-term Republican Campbell Bascom Slemp. [6]

Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1902

The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1902 was an assembly of delegates elected by the voters to write the fundamental law of Virginia. The 1902 Constitution severely restricting suffrage among blacks and whites was proclaimed without submitting it to the people.

John Curtiss Underwood American judge

John Curtiss Underwood was a lawyer, abolitionist politician, and federal judge.

A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual.

In return for that party loyalty, Martin allowed Stuart to run for governor unopposed. Governor Stuart promoted a statewide referendum that prohibited alcohol sales. He also appointed a commission that in 1919 revised the Virginia Code (for the first time in 1887), as well as enacted legislation which rationalized taxation, so local counties could tax real estate and the state other forms of property. This raised state revenues by almost $750,000. in 1915, Stuart endorsed the state senatorial bid of Harry F. Byrd, who a decade later would control what had been the Martin organization. World War I became the major event in Stuart's administration, and he encouraged Virginians to grow food in home gardens to support the national war effort. Stuart also declared martial law in Hopewell, Virginia, a boom town that grew around a munitions plant.

Harry F. Byrd American politician

Harry Flood Byrd Sr. of Berryville in Clarke County, Virginia was an American newspaper publisher and political leader of the Democratic Party in Virginia for four decades as head of a political faction that became known as the Byrd Organization. Byrd served as Virginia's governor from 1926 until 1930, then represented the Commonwealth as a United States Senator from 1933 until 1965. He came to lead the "conservative coalition" in the United States Senate, and opposed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, largely blocking most liberal legislation after 1937. His son Harry Jr. succeeded him as U.S. Senator, but ran as an Independent following the decline of the Byrd Organization.

Hopewell, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Hopewell is an independent city surrounded by Prince George County and the Appomattox River in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,591. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Hopewell with Prince George County for statistical purposes.

After Stuart's gubernatorial term ended, he served on the federal War Industries Board, then in 1921 formed the "Pay as You Go Roads Association" which fought issuance of road construction bonds to build better highways. The bond-financed highway construction of the Virginia Turnpike System in the area before the Civil War had been disastrous, and led to many bankruptcies.


1913 ; Stuart was elected Governor of Virginia with 91.87% of the vote, defeating Socialist C. Campbell and Socialist Labor B.D. Downey.

Death and legacy

After Henry Carter Stuart's death, the mansion he built in the valley of the Elk Garden River and lived in remained in the Stuart family until 1945. However, "East Rosedale" burned to the ground after a lightning storm in 2002. [7]

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Political offices
Preceded by
William Hodges Mann
Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Westmoreland Davis