James G. Field

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
James Field
Attorney General of Virginia
In office
August 29, 1877 – January 1, 1882
GovernorJames L. Kemper
Frederick W. M. Holliday
Preceded byRaleigh Daniel
Succeeded byFrank S. Blair
Personal details
James Gaven Field

(1826-02-24)February 24, 1826
Walnut, Virginia, U.S.
DiedOctober 12, 1901(1901-10-12) (aged 75)
Gordonsville, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
Spouse(s)Frances E. Cowherd
Elizabeth R. Logwood
  • Lewis Yancy Field (father)
  • Maria Duncan (mother)
RelativesJohn Field
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Branch/serviceConfederate States Army
Years of service1861-1865
Unit13th Virginia Infantry
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

James Gaven Field (February 24, 1826 – October 12, 1901) was an American politician in California and Virginia, who was also a businessman, government clerk, and Confederate major. He became the Attorney General of Virginia and the vice presidential nominee of the Populist Party during the 1892 presidential election.

Early and family life[edit]

James Gaven Field was born in Walnut, Culpeper County, Virginia to Judge Lewis Yancy Field and Maria Duncan. After attending a private classical school, he became a merchant in the former lands of Lord Fairfax and taught school.

On June 20, 1854, he married Frances E. Cowherd, two years his junior and they remained married until her death in April 1877. They had at least four children: William Field, Mard Field, James G. Field Jr and Maxy Field[1] On February 2, 1882, married Elizabeth R. Logwood.


In 1848 Field accompanied Major Hill, a paymaster for the U.S. Army, to California as clerk. In addition to his federal government job, he became the secretary of the convention that framed the first constitution of the state of California in 1850.[2]

In October 1850 Field returned to Virginia, where he studied law with his uncle, Judge Richard H. Field, and was admitted to the bar in 1852. In 1859 he was elected commonwealth attorney (prosecutor) for Culpeper County. In the 1860 federal census, Field owned six enslaved people—a 70 year old black man, 18 year old Black girl, two 12-year-old girls and two boys aged 9 and 14 years old.[3]

On April 17, 1861, Field resigned as commonwealth attorney and volunteered with Culpeper county's minute men. He enlisted as a private and became an officer of Virginia's 13th Infantry. He fought in the Valley Campaign of 1862. Promoted to the rank of major on March 23, 1862, Field served on the staff of General A. P. Hill. At the Battle of Gaines' Mill he was wounded and later lost a leg at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862. After recovering from that wound in May 1863, Field continued his Confederate service as paymaster until April 9, 1865.[4]

Following the Civil War he joined the Conservative Party.[5] He became Attorney General of Virginia in 1877. In 1879 Field argued Ex Parte Virginia before the U.S. Supreme Court, however he failed to convince the justices that Congress lacked authority to require blacks on trial juries.

Field retired to a farm in Albemarle County, Virginia, but remained active in politics.

During the 1892 presidential election he was nominated as the People's Party vice presidential candidate on the first ballot on July 5 alongside James B. Weaver as the presidential nominee. Field campaigned in the southern and border states and in support of the party's radical reform platform. At a mid-July speech in Gordonsville, in Orange County, he compared the revolutionary impulse of Populism with the American Revolution of 1776 and advised his audience to "Read your Bibles Sunday and the Omaha platform every day in the week."[6] The ticket won five states and received over one million votes. In 1893 he advocated for the impeachment of President Grover Cleveland and later supported William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and 1900.[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

Field died in Gordonsville, Virginia, either on May 18, 1902[8] or October 12, 1901. He is buried in the Culpeper city cemetery.


  1. ^ 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Catalpa, Culpeper County, Virginia p. of , available on ancestry.com though individual page views not available per tech glitch
  2. ^ "Sketch of the People's Party Candidate for Vice President". The Times. 6 July 1892. p. 2. Archived from the original on 15 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Slave Schedule, for Fairfax District, Culpeper County, Virginia p. 2 of 6
  4. ^ "Gen. James G. Field". The Western Call. 22 July 1892. p. 4. Archived from the original on 15 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Public Meeting in Culpeper". Alexandria Gazette. 23 May 1868. p. 2. Archived from the original on 15 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "James Gaven Field (1826–1902) – Encyclopedia Virginia".
  7. ^ "James Gaven Field (1826–1902)". 19 July 2016.
  8. ^ ancestry.com citing Virginia Regimental History Series but libraries closed
Legal offices
Preceded by
Raleigh Daniel
Attorney General of Virginia
Succeeded by
Party political offices
New political party Populist nominee for President of the United States

Succeeded by