MERCER, Charles Fenton

1778–1858

Biography

MERCER, Charles Fenton, (cousin of Robert Selden Garnett), a Representative from Virginia; born in Fredericksburg, Va., June 16, 1778; was graduated from Princeton College in 1797; took a postgraduate course in the same college and received his degree in 1800; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1802 and commenced practice in Aldie, Loudoun County, Va.; member of the State house of delegates 1810-1817; during the War of 1812 was appointed lieutenant colonel of a Virginia regiment and then major in command at Norfolk, Va.; inspector general in 1814; aide-de-camp to Governor Barbour and brigadier general in command of the Second Virginia Brigade; projector and first president of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Co. 1828-1833; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1829; elected as a Federalist to the Fifteenth through the Seventeenth Congresses; reelected to the Eighteenth Congress as a Crawford Republican; reelected to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses as an Adams; reelected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the Twenty-First through the Twenty-fourth Congresses; reelected as a Whig to the Twenty-fifth through Twenty-sixth Congresses and served from March 4, 1817, to December 26, 1839, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Roads and Canals (Twenty-second through Twenty-fifth Congresses); was one of the originators of the plan for establishing the Free State of Liberia; vice president of the Virginia Colonization Society in 1836; vice president of the National Society of Agriculture in 1842; died in Howard, near Alexandria, Va., May 4, 1858; interment in Union Cemetery, Leesburg, Loudoun County, Va.

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

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External Research Collections

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 12 letters.

Columbia University
Rare Book and Manuscript Library

New York, NY
Papers: 2 official letters (February 7, 1824; February 3, 1827) in the DeWitt Clinton collection. Finding aid in repository.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1825. 1 letter.

New Jersey Historical Society

Newark, NJ
Papers: 1816-1854. 39 items. Includes a diary (1816) and a 10 page autobiography (ca. 1839).

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1816-1832. 25 items.
Papers: Letters in William H. Harrison papers.

Texas State Library

Austin, TX
Papers: Letters in Colonization Records, Secretary of State Record Group, the A.J. Houston collection, and the Washington D. Miller papers.

University of Virginia Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: 1804-1845. 17 items in Mercer family and other papers. Personal and business papers and correspondence, some relating to University of Virginia and some with political content. Finding aids for some collections.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: In Mercer family papers, 1656-1869. 569 items. Collection analyzed by repository.

Virginia State Library and Archives
Archives Branch

Richmond, VA
Papers: Diary (1853-1858, 2 volumes) and an autobiographical sketch (22 pages). Finding aid in repository.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Carey, Mathew. Letters on the colonization society; and on its probable results; under the following heads: the origin of the society; increase of the coloured population; manumission of slaves in this country; declarations of legislatures, and other assembled bodies, in favour of the society; situation of the colonists at Monrovia, and other towns ... Addressed to the Hon. C. F. Mercer. New York: Arno Press, 1968. Reprint, Philadelphia: Stereotyped by L. Johnson, 1832.

Carter, Robert Allen. "Virginia Federalist in Dissent: A Life of Charles Fenton Mercer." Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1988.

Egerton, Douglas Rogers. "Charles Fenton Mercer and the Foundations of Modern American Conservatism." Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 1985.

Garnett, James Mercer. Biographical Sketch of Hon. Charles Fenton Mercer. Richmond, Va.: Privately printed by Whittet and Shepperson, 1911.

Mason, Armistead Thomson. Controversy between Armistead Thompson Mason and Charles Fenton Mercer. [Washington: N.p., 1818].

Mercer, Charles Fenton. A discourse on popular education; delivered in the church at Princeton, the evening before the annual commencement of the College of New Jersey, September 26, 1826. Princeton: Princeton Press, Printed for the societies, by D. A. Borrenstein, 1826.

------. The farewell address of the Hon. C.F. Mercer to his constituents. [N.p., 1839].

------. Speech of Mr. C. F. Mercer, on the subject of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, delivered in the convention of delegates, held at the city of Washington, November 7, 1823. Washington: Printed by Gales & Seaton. 1823.

------. The weakness and inefficiency of the government of the United States of North America; by a late American statesman. Edited by a member of the Middle Temple. London: Houlston & Wright, 1863.

Scott, John. Judge Scott's reply to Mr. Mercer. [Richmond: N.p., 1839].

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