John Paul Sr. (judge)

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John Paul Sr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
September 5, 1883 – November 1, 1901
Appointed by Chester Arthur
Preceded by Alexander Rives
Succeeded by Henry C. McDowell Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1881 – September 5, 1883
Preceded by John T. Harris
Succeeded by Charles Triplett O'Ferrall
Member of the Virginia Senate from Rockingham County
In office
Preceded by District established
Succeeded by Joseph B. Webb
Personal details
Born (1839-06-30)June 30, 1839
Ottobine, Virginia
Died November 1, 1901(1901-11-01) (aged 62)
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Political party Readjuster (after 1881)
Other political
Democrat (before 1880)
Republican (1880–1881)
Alma mater University of Virginia
Occupation Attorney
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate Army
Rank captain
Unit 1st Virginia Cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War

John Paul (June 30, 1839 – November 1, 1901) was a U.S. Representative and federal judge from Virginia.[1][2]

Early and family life[edit]

Born June 30, 1839 in Rockingham County, Virginia at Ottobine on June 30, 1839 to Peter Paul (1812-1878]] and his wife the former Maria Whitmore (1812-1903), John Paul had an older sister Kate (1837-1905) and had three younger brothers and three sisters who survived to adulthood. He attended the local schools. He had begun studies at Roanoke College when the American Civil War began and the Virginia declared its secession. After the war, Paul studied law at the University of Virginia, and graduated in 1867.

He married Katherine Seymour Green (1847-1927) on November 19, 1874. They had three sons and three daughters who survived them, although their first son, John Rockingham Paul (1877-1879) did not survive infancy. Their son John Paul, also became a U.S. congressman for Virginia's 7th district and federal judge for the Western District of Virginia.

Confederate officer[edit]

During the Civil War, John Paul entered the Confederate States Army and became a captain in the 1st Virginia Cavalry.

Legal, legislative and judicial career[edit]

Paul was admitted to the bar in 1867 and commenced practice in Harrisonburg. He served as the Commonwealth's attorney for Rockingham County from 1870 to 1877.

After restoration of civil rights to Confederate veterans, Paul won election to represent Rockingham County in the Virginia Senate, and served one term in that part-time position, from 1877 to 1880. In 1878 he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Forty-sixth Congress.

John Paul defeated both Republican and Democratic opponents to win election as a Readjuster Democrat to the Forty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1881 – March 3, 1883), succeeding John T. Harris. He appeared to win re-election and served from March 4, 1883, until September 5, 1883, when he resigned to take his judicial position. The seemingly losing candidate, Democrat Charles Triplett O'Ferrall, was ultimately determined the victor in the 1882 campaign after demanding a re-count, and won re-election several times before resigning to run for Governor of Virginia (and winning in 1893).

President Chester A. Arthur nominated John Paul to become judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia and after confirmation by the Senate, he filled the seat vacated by Alexander Rives.

Death and legacy[edit]

He served as federal judge from September 5, 1883, until his death in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on November 1, 1901. Judge Paul dedicated a new courthouse in Harrisonburg in 1896, and delivered a carefully prepared historical address concerning the local bar.[3] Judge John Paul was survived by his widow and six children, and interred in Woodbine Cemetery.[4] President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Henry C. McDowell Jr., who succeeded Judge Paul after confirmation by the Senate. Although the Readjuster Party did not survive into the 20th Century, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually agreed with part of its platform and allocated part of Virginia's pre-Civil War debt to what became West Virginia in that war.

His son, John Paul Jr., also became a lawyer, and served as U.S. Representative and judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. He donated part of the family's farm in Ottobine, Virginia to become the Paul State Forest.

Electoral history[edit]


  1. ^ CongBio|P000144
  2. ^ FJC Bio|1851
  3. ^ John W. Wayland, Historic Harrisonburg (C.J. Carrier Company, Harrisonburg, 1990 reprint of 1949 edition) p. 212
  4. ^ findagrave no. 7772740
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John T. Harris
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Charles Triplett O'Ferrall
Legal offices
Preceded by
Alexander Rives
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Succeeded by
Henry C. McDowell Jr.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website