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Eppa Hunton

Eppa Hunton II (September 24, 1822October 11, 1908) was a U.S. Representative and Senator from Virginia and a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

Early years

Hunton was born near Warrenton, Virginia on September 24, 1822, to Eppa Sr. and Elizabeth Mary (Brent) Hunton (married June 22, 1811, in Fauquier County), who had twelve children in all. After graduating from the New Baltimore Academy, he taught school for three years, then studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1843, commencing practice in Brentsville, Virginia. He became prominent as a colonel, and later brigadier general, in the Virginia militia and as a Commonwealth attorney for Prince William County (1849–1861).

Family life

In 1848, Hunton was married to Lucy Caroline Weir (February 20, 1825September 4, 1899), daughter of Robert and Clara Boothe Weir. They had two children:
*Elizabeth Boothe Hunton (June 20, 1853September 30, 1854)
*Eppa Hunton III (April 14, 1855March 5, 1932)

Their second child, Eppa Hunton III, went on to co-found the notable Richmond law firm Hunton & Williams in 1901. In 1977, the firm established the Eppa Hunton IV Memorial Book Award at the University of Virginia's School of Law, in honor of Hunton's grandson, who lived from July 31, 1904 to November 23, 1976. According to the University, the award is "presented annually to a third-year student who has demonstrated unusual aptitude in litigation courses and shown a keen awareness and understanding of the lawyer's ethical and professional responsibility."

Hunton also appears to have had a child with a female slave, Henrietta. This child, John, was born on November 5, 1854.

Civil War

In February 1861, Hunton was a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention, and advocated secession. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, he was commissioned a colonel of the 8th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate Army, participating in the First Battle of Bull Run in July. In October his regiment was part of Nathan G. Evans' brigade near Leesburg, Virginia, where he led his command against a Union force at Ball's Bluff, driving it into the Potomac River.

Afterward, Hunton held brigade command in Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's corps, Maj. Gen. George Pickett's division, and the Department of Richmond, being promoted to brigadier general in August 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg. During Pickett's Charge, Hunton was wounded in the leg. After service in the defenses of Richmond, he rejoined Pickett's division and fought at Cold Harbor and in the Richmond and Petersburg siege lines. In March 1865 his command fought a delaying action at Five Forks and again the following month at Battle of Sayler's Creek, where he was captured on April 6, 1865. He was paroled at Fort Warren, Massachusetts, on July 24.

Post-war politics

After the war Hunton resumed his former law practice and became involved in politics. He was elected as a Democrat from Virginia to the 43rd and the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1873March 3, 1881). During his years as a Representative, Hunton was chairman of the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions (44th Congress), and of the Committee on the District of Columbia (46th Congress). He was appointed to the 15-member Electoral Commission created by an act of Congress in 1877 to decide the contests in various States in the presidential election of 1876.

Hunton was not a candidate for renomination in 1880, instead resuming the practice of law. He was appointed and subsequently elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John S. Barbour, and served from May 28, 1892, to March 3, 1895. Hunton served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee to Establish a University of the United States from 1893-1895.

On or about April 1, 1894, Hunton became indirectly involved in voting bribery attempts. Charles W. Buttz, a lobbyist and claim agent originally from North Dakota, but living in Washington, D.C. at the time, went to Hunton's house in Warrenton, Virginia, during the Senator's absence. Buttz told Hunton's son, Eppa III, that he would pay him a contingent fee of $25,000 if he would, by presenting arguments as to the pending tariff bill, induce his father to vote against it. Excerpts from the Senate investigating committee on this issue follow:

This offer was declined at once and peremptorily by Eppa Hunton [III], as set forth in his testimony, and the whole matter was communicated by him to his father. Senator Hunton availed himself of the first opportunity to disclose the matter to certain of his friends in the senate, as appears in the testimony, and was in no other way connected with the transaction.

Buttz also attempted to bribe South Dakota Senator James Henderson Kyle to vote against the same bill. Hunton and Kyle were eventually exonerated from all blame.

Afterward, Hunton again resumed his law practice in Warrenton, Virginia. On October 11, 1908, Hunton died in Richmond, Virginia and was buried in the city's Hollywood Cemetery.

Trivia

  • In 1850, Hunton owned 6 slaves, 5 black: 2 males (ages 10, 5), 3 females (ages 33, 30, <1); 1 mulatto: female, age 14.
  • In 1860, Hunton owned 8 slaves, all black: 5 males (ages 60, 50, 12, 6, 2), 3 females (ages 31, 14, 9).

Notes

References

Books and newspapers

1. The Trenton Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 26 May 1894. (Eppa-hunton-attempted-bribery.png)

Websites

References

  • Hunton, Eppa. The Autobiography of Eppa Hunton. Richmond: William Byrd Press, 1933.

External links

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