GILES, William Branch

1762–1830

Biography

GILES, William Branch, a Representative and a Senator from Virginia; born near Amelia Court House, Amelia County, Va., August 12, 1762; pursued classical studies and graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1781; studied law; admitted to the bar and practiced in Petersburg, Va., 1784-1789; elected to the First Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Theodorick Bland; reelected to the Second and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from December 7, 1790, to October 2, 1798, when he resigned; member, State house of delegates 1798-1800; elected as a Democratic Republican to the Seventh Congress (March 4, 1801-March 3, 1803); appointed on August 11, 1804, to the United States Senate as a Democratic Republican to fill the vacancy in the term beginning March 4, 1803, caused by the resignation of Abraham B. Venable, and took his seat on November 5, 1804; resigned on December 4, 1804, and was subsequently elected on December 4, 1804, to fill the vacancy in the term beginning March 4, 1799, caused by the resignation of Wilson C. Nicholas; was reelected in 1804 and 1811, and served successively in the two classes from August 11, 1804, to March 3, 1815, when he resigned; member, State house of delegates 1816-1817, 1826-1827; unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1825; Governor of Virginia 1827-1830; was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1829 and 1830; again elected Governor in 1830, but declined; died on his estate, 'Wigwam,' near Amelia Court House, Amelia County, Va., December 4, 1830; interment in a private cemetery on his estate.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Majority of papers were destroyed in the Richmond fire of 1865.
Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 12 items.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: Correspondence in Short-Harrison-Symmes families' papers, 1760-1878. Finding aid.

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: February 27, 1801; July 10, 1802; December 3, 1808; January 15, 1816; December 14, 1821; and June 29, 1827. 6 letters. Finding aid.

Pierpont Morgan Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1823. 2 items.

Rosenbach Museum and Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: October 5, 1808 and March 3, 1827. 2 letters. To Giles.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Ca. 19 items (1802-1830) in Giles and others papers. Several letters have political content, but are not from his terms in Congress. Others concern the University of Virginia. Finding aids to some collections.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections; photographs; and portraits.

Virginia State Library and Archives

Richmond, VA
Papers: 1827-1830. 4 feet. Gubernatorial records.
Additional Papers: In executive letterbook (1823-1830); Tazewell family papers, 1756-1931; and John Y. Mason letters, 1824-1827.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Anderson, Dice Robins. William Branch Giles: A Study in the Politics of Virginia and the Nation from 1790 to 1830. 1914. Reprint. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith, 1965.

Giunta, Mary A. "The Public Life of William Branch Giles, Republican, 1790-1815." Ph.D. dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1980.

Gutzman, Kevin R. "Preserving the Patrimony: William Branch Giles and Virginia versus the Federal Tariff." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 104 (Summer 1996): 341-72.

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