Kemper, James Lawson, 1823-1895

Alternative names
Birth 1823-06-11
Death 1895-04-07

Biographical notes:

C.S.A. general; Virginia governor, 1874-1878.

From the description of Letter to Dr. A. G. Grinnan, 1856 June 4. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 52960481

James Lawson Kemper (1823-1895) was a Virginia legislator, Confederate soldier and governor of Virginia (1874-1878).

From the description of Papers, 1800-1894 (bulk 1841-1888). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 86172341

Kemper was an alumnus of Washington College (Class of 1842) and a Madison County and Richmond, Va., lawyer; Virginia governor (1874-1878).

From the description of Letters : to James Lawson Kemper, 1868-1877. (Washington & Lee University). WorldCat record id: 319065043

Madison County and Richmond, Va., lawyer; Virginia governor (1874-1878).

From the description of Papers : of James Lawson Kemper, 1837-1903. (Virginia Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 29553105

James Lawson Kemper was born 11 June 1823 at "Mountain Prospect" in Madison County, Virginia, to William Kemper (1776-1853) and Maria E. Allison Kemper (1787-1873). He attended the Locust Dale Academy, then Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, graduating in 1842. He read law under George W. Summers (1804-1868) of Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, and received a master's degree from Washington College. Admitted to the bar 2 October 1846, Kemper returned to Madison County to practice law. When the Mexican War began, Kemper was appointed captain in the First Virginia Regiment and served until the end of the war. In 1853, Kemper was elected to the House of Delegates and served until 1863. He was Speaker of the House from 1861 to 1863. When the Civil War began, Kemper was appointed colonel of the 7th Virginia Infantry. Due to his performance at the battle of Seven Pines, Kemper was promoted to brigadier general. He was wounded in Pickett's Charge on 3 July 1863, and was captured by Union troops a few days later. Exchanged in September 1863, he returned to his command. Kemper was put in command of the reserve forces of Virginia in 1864. After the war ended, Kemper returned to his law practice in Madison County and pursued business interests. He was elected governor of Virginia in 1873 and served from 1874 to 1878. Much of his term was spent in dealing with Virginia's debt. After he left the governor's office, Kemper returned to Madison County, then moved to Orange County in 1882. Kemper married Cremora Conway Cave (ca. 1837-1870) 4 July 1853 in Madison County, and they had seven children. Kemper died 7 April 1895 in Orange County and buried at the family cemetery at "Walnut Hills" in Madison County.

From the guide to the Papers, 1804-1951, (Library of Virginia)


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  • Recommendations For Positions
  • Light House Board
  • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863
  • Exposition
  • Ponies
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848
  • Local election
  • Real estate investment--History--19th century
  • African Americans


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  • United States (as recorded)
  • Virginia--Madison County (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Iowa (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)
  • Virginia--Madison County (as recorded)
  • Madison County (Va.) (as recorded)
  • Madison County (Va.) (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)