John Botts

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John Minor Botts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by James Seddon
Succeeded by James Seddon
Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by Hugh Haralson
Succeeded by Armistead Burt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1843
Preceded by John Robertson
Succeeded by William Taylor
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Henrico County
In office
Preceded by Robert A. Mayo
Succeeded by Sherwin McRae
Personal details
Born (1802-09-16)September 16, 1802
Dumfries, Virginia
Died January 8, 1869(1869-01-08) (aged 66)
Culpeper, Virginia
Political party Whig
Other political
Constitutional Union
Profession Politician, Lawyer

John Minor Botts (September 16, 1802 – January 8, 1869) was a nineteenth-century politician and lawyer from Virginia.

Life and career[edit]

Botts's home in Culpeper, Virginia, Botts and family on porch, 1863.

Botts was born in Dumfries, Virginia. Both of his parents were killed in the Richmond Theatre fire on 26 December 1811, so he and his siblings were raised by relatives in Fredericksburg. Botts attended the common schools in Richmond, Virginia, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1830. He moved to Henrico County, Virginia, engaged in agricultural pursuits, and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1833 to 1839. Botts was elected as a Whig to the United States House of Representatives in 1838, serving from 1839 to 1843. He was unsuccessful for reelection in 1842 but was elected again in 1846, serving from 1847 to 1849. He was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs from 1847 to 1849. Botts was once again unsuccessful for reelection in 1848 and again in 1850. He represented the city of Richmond and the counties of Charles City, Henrico, and New Kent in the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851 and resumed practicing law in Richmond in 1852.

Botts, who opposed President John Tyler, introduced a resolution on July 10, 1842. It levied several charges against the President and called for a nine-member committee to investigate his behavior, with the expectation of a formal impeachment recommendation. The Botts bill, however, was tabled until the following January, when it was rejected, 127−83.[1]

During the presidential election of 1860, Botts, a member of the United States Constitutional Union Party, supported John Bell.[2] Though his candidate was unsuccessful, Botts continued to support the principles of the Constitutional Union party, and was uncompromisingly Unionist in his sentiments while his native state moved toward secession[3] and through the American Civil War, but refused to fight against Virginia.[4] In 1862, he was jailed without trial for his Unionist positions[5] by the Confederate provost marshal John H. Winder.[6]

Botts was a delegate to the Southern Loyalists' Convention in 1866 before his death on January 8, 1869 in Culpeper, Virginia.[7] He was interred in the Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond, next to his son Archibald, who died in 1847 while serving with the U.S. Army in Mexico. John's grave marker reads: "He was under all circumstances an inflexible friend of the American Union. 'I know no North, no South, no East, no West. I know only my Country, my whole Country, and nothing but my Country.'"

Election of 1847[edit]

Botts was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 55.37% of the vote, defeating Democrat Walter D. Leake.


Botts published his memoirs, The Great Rebellion: Its Secret History, Rise, Progress, and Disastrous Failure (1866).


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Robertson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
William Taylor
Preceded by
James Seddon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
James Seddon