Robert Latane Montague

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Robert Latane Montague
Member of the Confederate States House of Representatives from Virginia's 1st district
In office
February 18, 1864 – May 10, 1865
Preceded by Muscoe R. H. Garnett
Succeeded by None (position eliminated)
4th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 1, 1860 – January 1, 1864
Governor John Letcher
Preceded by William L. Jackson, Jr.
Succeeded by Samuel Price
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the Middlesex County district
In office
January 1, 1874 – March 31, 1875
Preceded by Lemuel C. Bristow
Succeeded by Lemuel C. Bristow
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the Mathews and Middlesex Counties district
In office
December 2, 1850 – January 11, 1852
Preceded by Alexander K. Shepard
Succeeded by George N. Nicholson
Personal details
Born Robert Latané Montague
(1819-05-23)May 23, 1819
Middlesex, Virginia, U.S.
Died March 2, 1880(1880-03-02) (aged 60)
Middlesex, Virginia, U.S.
Spouse(s) Cornelia Gay Eubank

Robert Latané Montague (May 23, 1819 – March 2, 1880) was a prominent Virginia lawyer, politician and judge, before and after the American Civil War. He twice won election to the Virginia House of Delegates, and also served during the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861, as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia (1860 to 1864), and in the Second Confederate Congress from (1864 to 1865).[1] His son Andrew Jackson Montague became Governor of Virginia and a U.S. Congressman, and grandson Robert Latane Montague (general) rose to become a general in the U.S. Marine Corps after receiving the Distinguished Service Cross in World War I.

Early and family life[edit]

Montague was born at Ellaslee plantation, Jamaica, Middlesex County, Virginia to Lewis Brooke Montague (1793-1868) and his wife the former Catherine Street Jesse (1803-1852). The family traced its descent from Peter Montague who emigrated to the Jamestown Colony.

Montague attended Fleetwood Academy in King and Queen County for two terms.[2] He then read law with Judge Lomax in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but later decided to continue studies under Nathaniel Beverly Tucker at the College of William and Mary, from which he received a legal degree in July 1842.[3]

Robert L. Montague married Cornelia Gay Eubank on December 14, 1852. Although at least four of their children died young (Allen Street Montague (1857 - 1864), Percy Eubank Montague (1860 - 1861), Barton Ball Montague (1861 - 1862) and Josephine Lewis Montague (1867 - 1870)), three sons survived into adulthood: Julieus Drew Montague (1853-1900), Andrew Jackson Montague (1862 - 1937) and Robert Lynch Montague (1864 - 1934).[4][5]

Career[edit]

After admission to the Virginia bar, Montague established his legal practice in Middlesex County. When he earned enough money to buy a plantation, he began farming using enslaved labor, in addition to his legal practice. He became politically active as a Democrat campaigning for James Polk in the Presidential Campaign of 1844.[6]

Voters in Mathews and Middlesex Counties elected him to represent them in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1850, but two years later he instead ran for (and was elected) Commonwealth Attorney, which position he held until 1860, having won re-election several times.

Voters from Mathews and Middlesex Counties elected him as a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861, and he became the Convention's President after John Janney resigned on November 16, 1861. He was an ardent defender of slavery and secessionist, and was physically in the president's chair when the ordinance of secession passed. Briefly during the American Civil War, Montague led both legislative bodies meeting in Richmond. Elected Virginia's Lieutenant Governor in 1861 (and polling 5000 more votes than John Lechter who led the ticket and was elected Governor of Virginia), Montague served ex officio as President of the Virginia Senate beginning in 1861 until December 21, 1863, when he became one of Virginia's delegates to the Confederate States Congress (1864-1865). His youngest (and favorite) brother, Andrew Jackson Montague, while a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, volunteered to defend Richmond, and died during the Battle of Gaines' Mill in 1862.

After the war, in 1871, Middlesex County voters again elected him to represent them in the House of Delegates. He represented Middlesex County for one term, before fellow legislators elected him in 1875 to an eight year term as a judge of the 8th Circuit Court, which he died before finishing.[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

Judge Montague died at home of erysipelas[8] on March 2, 1880, and was succeeded as judge of the 8th Circuit by Benjamin W. Lacy. A prominent Baptist (and moderator of the state's Baptist General Association), he was initially buried at Inglewood. However, he was eventually reburied in the family plot at the historic cemetery of Christ Episcopal Church in Middlesex county.[9]

His son Andrew Jackson Montague became Virginia's governor, and several male descendants were named after him, including Marine Corps Brigadier General Robert L. Montague (Jr.) (1897-1971) and living regulatory lawyer R. Latane Montague IV. This Robert L. Montague was the great-uncle of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Political Graveyard
  2. ^ "Robert L. Montague" in Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography digitized in 2000 available at https://archive.org/stream/encyclopediaofvi03tyleuoft/
  3. ^ David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler (eds), The American Civil War-A Political, Social, and Military History, Vol. 1, pp. 1350-51
  4. ^ Although Montague's name was spelled creatively on many censuses, the 1860 census for Middlesex County, Virginia listed lawyer Robert S. Montague (who owned 15,000 in real estate and 18,536 in personal estate including slaves, by far the largest amount on the page) and his wife as living together with his 67 year old father Lewis B. Montague, his 18 year old brother A.J. Montague, as well as overseer Richard Lane (age 52), and children J.D. Montague(6 years old), A.S. Montague (2 years), P.E. Montague (2 months); the children of farmer R.H. Montague (possibly a relative) and F.A. Montague as Charles (b. 1853), Gabriel (b. 1855), William (b. 1857 and Robert (b. 1859). Virginia's 1860 slave schedule is not available online, but Robert L. Montague is apparently listed in both Middlesex and nearby Essex County
  5. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20476721
  6. ^ http://www.montaguefamilyassociation.com/TNG/getperson.php?personID=I4613&tree=0001
  7. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, Virginia General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond, Virginia State Library 1978), pp. xvii, xxx, 444, 472, 474, 475, 481, 486, 518
  8. ^ 1880 U.S. Census death schedule for Middlesex County, Virginia; he is the only entry on the page with that cause of death
  9. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20476721