John Page (Virginia politician)

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John Page
John Page Rosewell Gloucester County Virginia.jpg
13th Governor of Virginia
In office
December 1, 1802 – December 7, 1805
Preceded byJames Monroe
Succeeded byWilliam H. Cabell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 12th district
In office
March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1797
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byThomas Evans
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1793
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byAbraham B. Venable
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Gloucester County
In office
Alongside William Hall
In office
Alongside William Hall
In office
Alongside Thomas Smith, Jr.
In office
Alongside Thomas Smith, Jr.
In office
Alongside Thomas Smith, Jr.
President of the Virginia Council of State
In office
Personal details
Born(1743-04-28)April 28, 1743
April 17, 1743 (O.S.)
Rosewell Plantation, Colony of Virginia, British America
DiedOctober 11, 1808(1808-10-11) (aged 65)
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Frances Burwell
Margaret Lowther Page
Alma materCollege of William and Mary
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
United States of America
Branch/serviceVirginia militia
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War
American Revolutionary War

John Page (April 28, 1743 – October 11, 1808) was an American politician. He served in the U.S. Congress and as the 13th Governor of Virginia.

Early life[edit]

Governor John Page House, Williamsburg

Page was born and lived at Rosewell Plantation in Gloucester County. He was the son of Alice (Grymes) and Mann Page. His great-great-grandfather was Colonel John Page (1628–1692), an English merchant from Middlesex who emigrated to Virginia with his wife Alice Lucken Page and settled in Middle Plantation. He was the brother of Mann Page III.

John Page graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1763, where he was a close friend and college classmate of Thomas Jefferson, with whom he exchanged, as fellow revolutionaries, much correspondence.



Broadside, order by John Page, president of the council, ordering state militia to be trained and prepared for battle, August 20, 1776

After his graduation from William and Mary, he then served under George Washington in an expedition during the French and Indian War. He He also served during the American Revolutionary War as an officer in the Virginia state militia, raising a regiment from Gloucester County and supplementing it with personal funds. During that war, he attained the rank of colonel.


Page inherited wealth, including Rosewell plantation, but lacked business success as a planter, so that after his death, when his debts became due, his family was forced to sell the plantation [1]


Page was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1776. Page was also instrumental in getting wife Frances' brother, Nathaniel Burwell, appointed to the Governor's council and together Page and Burwell opposed Lord Dunmore's proclamation against Patrick Henry, Page and Burwell building the council whose membership read like a list of Patriots, shaping the American Revolution against Britain.[citation needed]

The revolutionary Virginia legislature elected Page as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and served 1776–1779. Gloucester County voters elected him and Thomas Smith as their representatives in the new Virginia House of Delegates 1781–1783 and re=elected the pair three times to the one-year, part-time position until electing James Hubard to replace Page in 1784, only to re-elect Page with Smith's namesake son, who served 1785 – 1788.[2] However, when voters were asked to select delegates to the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, they selected Warner Lewis alongside Thomas Smith, rather than this man. Nonetheless, the Page family remained politically powerful in Gloucester County, as voters elected Mann Page to succeed him for a term, but then selected Mordecai Cooke and eventually James Baytop became their repeatedly re-elected delegates in Richmond

Following ratification of the federal constitution, Page successfully ran for a seat in the First United States Congress and reelected to the Second and Third, and to the Fourth as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party after that party had been created by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He was a Congressman from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1797. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1792.[3]

After his terms in Congress, Page again won election as one of Gloucester County's representatives to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1797, alongside William Hall. However, only Hall won re-election in 1798, as Mordecai Cooke and several other men won the second seat.[4] In 1800, Gloucester County voters again selected Page to sit alongside Hall, and re-elected neither, presumably in part because fellow legislators elected Page as Governor of Virginia.[5]

Page became the Governor of Virginia in 1802 and served to 1805. After his term ended (since the state constitution forbad re-election), Page accepted a federal appointment as United States commissioner of loans for Virginia and held office until his death.

Personal life[edit]

Remains of Page's Plantation, Rosewell, burned in 1916

In 1765, Page was married to Frances Burwell (1745–1784), daughter of Col. Robert "Robin" Burwell. Together, Frances and John were the parents of twelve children, though only seven lived to adulthood: Mann (1766-1813), Robert (1770-?), Sally (1771-?), Alice (1775-?), Frances (1777-?), Francis (1781-?), and Judith (1783-?).[6] Of the seven who survived to adulthood, five married children of Gov. Thomas Nelson, thereby forging a major alliance between the Page and Nelson families, there was also Burwell blood on both sides, the Burwells by these marriages becoming close relatives of the Page and Nelson families for at least three generations.

After the death of his first wife in 1784, Page remarried, this time to early American poet Margaret Lowther Page (1759–1835), who hosted a vibrant literary salon at the Rosewell Plantation. Page, himself also a poet, wrote several poems about national political issues, including Shays' Rebellion and the Virginia Religious Disestablishment Act (Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom). He and Margaret were parents to eight children, although only three lived to see adulthood: Margaret (1790-?), Barbara(1795-?), and Lucy (1807-?).[7] Page's niece by marriage, Judith Lomax, was also a poet.[8]

Page died in Richmond, Virginia, on October 11, 1808. He was interred in St. John's Churchyard in Richmond.


The Page family is one of the First Families of Virginia. Its members include Colonel John Page, Governor John Page, his brother Mann Page, Thomas Nelson Page a leading proponent of the Lost Cause myth, and Virginian Railway builder William Nelson Page.

Page County, Virginia, located in the Shenandoah Valley, was formed in 1831 and named for Governor John Page. Also bearing his name is a residence hall at the College of William and Mary.[9]

Governor Page was quoted by George W. Bush in his inaugural address in 2001. Writing to his friend Jefferson shortly after the Declaration of Independence was published, Page said of the Declaration and the Revolution: "We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm".[10]

Page is an ancestor of American musician, writer, and podcaster John Roderick.[11]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1789; Page was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives defeating Spencer Roane and Meriwether Smith
  • 1790; Page was re-elected unopposed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lanciano, Claude O. Jr., Rosewell:Garland of Virginia., Gloucester County Historical Committee, 1978 ISBN=74-28949 p. 119 et seq
  2. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, The Virginia General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond: Virginia State Library 1978) pp. 142, 145, 149 , 156, 160, 164
  3. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  4. ^ Leonard p. 207
  5. ^ Leonard p. 219
  6. ^ Glenn, Thomas Allen (1898). Some Colonial Mansions: And Those who Lived in Them : with Genealogies of the Various Families Mentioned. H. T. Coates.
  7. ^ Glenn, Thomas Allen (1898). Some Colonial Mansions: And Those who Lived in Them : with Genealogies of the Various Families Mentioned. H. T. Coates.
  8. ^ David S. Shields (2007). American Poetry: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Library of America. ISBN 978-1-931082-90-7.
  9. ^ "William & Mary- Harrison & Page Halls". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. ^ Bobrick, Benson: Angel in the Whirlwind. Simon and Schuster, 1997
  11. ^ "Omnibus Podcast - Article the First". Retrieved October 7, 2020.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by
District established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by