John Brown Baldwin

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John Brown Baldwin

John Brown Baldwin (January 11, 1820 – September 30, 1873) was a politician in Virginia during the American Civil War, when he served in the Confederate Congress.


Baldwin was born in Staunton, Virginia. He graduated from Staunton Academy and then the University of Virginia in 1838. He was a member of the college's Board of Visitors from 1856–64. He married Susan Madison Peyton on July 4, 1852.

He was elected to the Virginia Convention, as a Unionist, in February 1861. On April 4, 1861, Baldwin represented the Convention's Unionist leadership at a secret one-hour interview with President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. He went to Washington hopeful that an agreement might be reached that would preserve the peace and hold Virginia in the Union. But he returned to Richmond emptyhanded, after finding that he and Lincoln had talked past each other.[1]

When secession of the commonwealth was ratified by the people of Virginia, Baldwin felt that it was his duty stay with his home state. He was elected as a representative from Augusta County, to the First Confederate Congress, and was then reelected to the Second Confederate Congress (defeating incumbent Governor John Letcher) and served until the conclusion of the Civil War.

Following the war, Baldwin returned home. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, under the new post-war United States government and was chosen as its Speaker. In this capacity, he showed exceptional ability and the rules of procedure which he evolved are still in use in Virginia, being known as "Baldwin's Rules."

Baldwin is buried in Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia.


  1. ^ Daniel W. Crofts, Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 301-6.

Jamerson, Bruce F., Clerk of the House of Delegates, supervising (2007). Speakers and Clerks of the Virginia House of Delegates, 1776-2007. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia House of Delegates. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Hugh W. Sheffey
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
Succeeded by
Zephaniah Turner, Jr.