William Cabell Rives
|William Cabell Rives|
|United States Senator
December 10, 1832 – February 22, 1834
|Preceded by||Littleton W. Tazewell|
|Succeeded by||Benjamin W. Leigh|
March 4, 1836 – March 4, 1845
|Preceded by||John Tyler, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Isaac S. Pennybacker|
May 4, 1793|
Amherst County, Virginia
|Died||April 25, 1868
William Cabell Rives (May 4, 1793 – April 25, 1868) was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France.
Early life 
Rives was born at "Union Hill", the estate of his grandfather, Col. William Cabell, in Amherst County, Virginia. It was located on the James River in what is now Nelson County. His parents were Robert (1764–1845) and Margaret Cabell (c.1770–1815) Rives, and his brothers included Alexander Rives. He was a great-uncle of Alexander Brown, author of books on the early history of Virginia and a family history, The Cabells and their Kin (1895).
He left Williamsburg to study law with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, and in 1814 was admitted to the bar at Richmond. Rives began his law practice in Nelson County, but after marrying Judith Page Walker (1802–1882) in 1819, he moved to her estate Castle Hill, near Cobham in Albemarle County. This was his home for the remainder of his life.
Political career 
Rives' political career began by serving in the state constitutional convention of 1816. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1817–19 for Nelson County, and again in 1822 for Albemarle County. In 1823 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served from 1823 to 1829. In 1839 he was appointed by Andrew Jackson as minister to France serving for 3 years. His name was presented as a candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1835, but the nomination went to Richard M. Johnson.
On his return from France, Rives was elected to the United States Senate. He would serve three terms, the last as a member of the Whig Party. From 1849 to 1853, he was again minister to France. In 1860, he endorsed the call for a Constitutional Union Party Convention, where he received most of Virginia's first ballot votes for President.
Rives was a delegate to the February 1861 Peace Conference in Washington which sought to prevent the American Civil War. He spoke out against secession, but was loyal to Virginia when she did seceded. He served in the Provisional Confederate Congress from 1861 to 1862, and the Second Confederate Congress from 1864 to 1865.
Post Civil War 
Rives was the author of several books, the most important being his Life and Times of James Madison (3 vols., Boston, 1859–68). He served on the Board of Visitors for the University of Virginia from 1834 to 1849, and was for many years the president of the Virginia Historical Society. He died at "Castle Hill" in 1868 and was buried in the family cemetery.
Notes and references 
- "The Cabells and Their Kin By Alexander Brown (1843–1906)". UVa Special Collections Library. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
- CVirginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (December 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Cobham Park".
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- William Cabell Rives at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- William Cabell Rives at Find a Grave