James Breckinridge

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1970
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Abstract

James Breckinridge, frontier aristocrat, was active in the Virginia House of Delegates during the formation of the United States under the new Constitution. He was a member of Congress from 1809-1817, a time when the young nation was beginning to stand on its own and develop internally and internationally. Bearing the Federalist label, Breckinridge' s career fluctuated with Republican mistakes. But he was more of an independent politician than a doctrinaire Federalist. He voted with expediency to benefit his state and his agricultural section of Virginia. Genuinely interested in developing education and transportation in Virginia, he served on a James and Kanawha River canal coanission and he worked with Thomas Jefferson in initiating the new ersity of Virginia.

Of great significance to Breckinridge was the Virginia militia of which he was a member from his boyhood days during the Revolution until the War of 1812, when he attained the rank of brigadier general. But it was Breckinridge's estate, Grove Hill, that gave him the status of frontier aristocrat. Breckinridge amassed a land empire in the Valley of Virginia at a time when land could be bought almost for the asking.

Soldier, surveyor, lawyer, educator, politician, and planter, Breckinridge led a full and interesting life and can lay claim to being another of Virginia's outstanding citizens.

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