Watkins Moorman Abbitt
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Virginia's 4th district
February 17, 1948 –January 3, 1973
|Preceded by||Patrick H. Drewry|
|Succeeded by||Robert Daniel|
|Born||May 21, 1908|
|Died||July 13, 1998 90) (aged|
|Resting place||Appomattox, Virginia|
|Spouse(s)||Corinne Hancock (d. 1989)|
Mary Ann Schmidt
|Children||Watkins Abbitt, Jr., Anne Abbitt Kerr, Corinne Abbitt Hynes|
|Alma mater||University of Richmond (LL.B.)|
Watkins Moorman Abbitt (May 21, 1908 – July 13, 1998) (nicknamed "Wat") was an American politician and lawyer. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia from February 17, 1948 to January 3, 1973. He was a top lieutenant within the Byrd Organization, the political machine named for its leader, U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd.
The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States.
Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.
The Byrd Organization or Byrd Machine was a political machine led by former Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. (1887–1966) that dominated Virginia politics for much of the 20th century. From the 1890s until the late 1960s, the Byrd Organization effectively controlled the politics of the state through a network of courthouse cliques of local constitutional officers in most of the state's counties.
Abbitt was born in Lynchburg, Virginia to George Francis Abbitt and Otway C. Moorman Abbitt. He graduated from Appomattox Agricultural High School in Appomattox, Virginia in 1925. He earned an LL.B. from the University of Richmond in 1931 and began the practice of law in Appomattox.He married Corinne Hancock on March 20, 1937, and they had a son and two daughters who survived infancy.
Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,568. The 2017 census estimates an increase to 81,000. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills" or the "Hill City". In the 1860s, Lynchburg was the only major city in Virginia that was not recaptured by the Union before the end of the American Civil War.
Appomattox is a town in Appomattox County, Virginia, United States. The population was 1,733 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Appomattox County.
The University of Richmond is a private liberal arts university in Richmond, Virginia. The university is a primarily undergraduate, residential university with approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students in five schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the University of Richmond School of Law and the School of Professional & Continuing Studies.
Upon admission to the Virginia bar, Abbitt had a private legal practice, and was also a bank executive. In 1931 he was elected Commonwealth's attorney for Appomattox County and served from 1932 to 1948. He also was elected member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1945.
Commonwealth's attorney is the title given to the elected prosecutor of felony crimes in Kentucky and Virginia. Other states refer to similar prosecutors as district attorney or state's attorney.
Appomattox County is a United States county located in the Piedmont region and near the center of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county is part of the Lynchburg, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and its county seat is the town of Appomattox.
When U.S. Representative Patrick H. Drewry died in office, Abbit won the special election to fill the vacancy. A Democrat, Abbitt was reelected to the twelve succeeding Congresses (February 17, 1948 – January 3, 1973). He was a member of the agriculture committee, and supported farm subsidies as well as fiscal conservatism and opposed increased federal intervention in state affairs. Abbitt became known for his opposition to school desegregation in the 1950s, as the Byrd Organization advocated Massive Resistance , and he was a signatory to the 1956 Southern Manifesto. He was a delegate to the 1964 Democratic National Convention, and chairman of the state Democratic party from 1964-1970.
Patrick Henry Drewry was a U.S. Representative and state legislator from Virginia.
The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.
The Declaration of Constitutional Principles was a document written in February and March 1956, in the United States Congress, in opposition to racial integration of public places. The manifesto was signed by 101 congressmen from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The document was drafted to counter the landmark Supreme Court 1954 ruling Brown v. Board of Education, which determined that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. School segregation laws were some of the most enduring and best-known of the Jim Crow laws that characterized the American South and border states at the time.
Abbitt announced his retirement after being redistricted into the same congressional district as fellow Democrat Dan Daniel, and Republican Robert Daniel won the seat in a 5-candidate general election field, becoming the first Republican to represent Southside Virginia in the century.
Robert Williams Daniel, Jr. was a Virginia farmer, businessman, teacher, and politician who served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican. He was first elected in 1972 and served until 1983.
Despite his former segregationist views, Abbitt endorsed L. Douglas Wilder, who became Virginia's first black governor in 1989, and noted the influence of his children. His son, delegate Wat Abbitt Jr. noted that his father always worked for free for any black church that needed his services, and a black minister spoke at the funeral.
Abbitt survived one wife, but died from leukemia in Lynchburg, Virginia on July 13, 1998. He was survived by a widow, son and two daughters, and interred at Liberty Cemetery in Appomattox, Virginia.A park in Appomattox, Virginia is named for him.
His son, Watkins Abbitt, Jr.,served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1986 to 2012.
Thomas Newton Jr. was an American politician. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia.
Andrew Jackson Montague was a Virginia lawyer and American politician. He served as the 44th Governor of Virginia, from 1902 to 1906, and a Congressman from 1912 until his death in 1937. A Democrat, Montague is best remembered as the first Virginia governor since the American Civil War not to have served in the Confederate military. Initially a Progressive, Governor Montague expanded the state capitol building, supported public education and the Good Roads Movement and opposed the Martin Organization. However, later as U.S. Congressman, he became a Conservative Democrat and supporter of the Byrd Organization.
Carter Glass was an American newspaper publisher and Democratic politician from Lynchburg, Virginia. He represented Virginia in both houses of Congress and served as the United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Woodrow Wilson. He played a major role in the establishment of the U.S. financial regulatory system, helping to establish the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
William Munford Tuck was a Virginia lawyer and lieutenant in the Byrd Organization, who served as the 55th Governor of Virginia from 1946 to 1950 as a Democrat, and as a U.S. Congressman from 1953 until 1969.
Norman Sisisky was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia from 1983 to 2001, representing the 4th District. He was a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition and one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress at the time.
Thomas Salem Bocock was a nineteenth-century politician and lawyer from Virginia. After serving as an antebellum United States Congressman, he was the Speaker of the Confederate States House of Representatives during most of the American Civil War.
Thomas Jerome Bliley Jr. is a United States Republican politician and former U.S. Representative from the state of Virginia.
Owen Bradford Pickett was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia.
Edward Watts Saunders was a Virginia lawyer, politician and judge, who served as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. Representative and Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Porter Hardy Jr. was a U.S. Representative from Virginia.
Manley Caldwell Butler was an American lawyer and politician widely admired for his integrity, bipartisanship and courage. A native of Roanoke, Butler served his hometown and wider community first as a member of the Republican Party in the Virginia General Assembly (1962–1972) and later United States House of Representatives (1972–1983).
James Kenneth Robinson was a State Senator and U.S. Representative from Virginia.
Clarence Godber Burton was a U.S. Representative from Virginia.
Thomas Walter Harrison was a Virginia lawyer and politician. He served in the Senate of Virginia and in the United States House of Representatives.
Lewis Preston "Pat" Collins served as the 26th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1946 until his sudden death in office in 1952. He was usually known as L. Preston Collins or Pat Collins.
Watkins Moorman Abbitt Jr. is an American politician. He is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Charles Matthew Fariss is an American politician. A Republican, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2011. He currently represents the 59th district, made up of Appomattox County and Buckingham counties, and parts of Albemarle, Campbell, and Nelson counties between Charlottesville and Lynchburg.
Robert Sidney Burruss Jr. was a state Senator and businessman from Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1963 he became the first Republican elected to represent the area since Congressional Reconstruction.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Patrick H. Drewry
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from Virginia's 4th congressional district