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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: Samuel Dawson

Wheeling Intelligencer
August 15, 1863

The First West Va. Legislature.


Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical.

SAMUEL R. DAWSON, from Ritchie.

Samuel R. Dawson, the Delegate from Ritchie, is a native of Maryland, but has spent his life from early boyhood in the Old Dominion. His educational training, beyond, the advantages of the common school, has been the result of his own persevering industry. At the age of sixteen he was placed in a dry goods store, and spent several years in the mercantile business. He has suffered a good deal of domestic affliction having been married as many as three times.

In 1847 he became a traveling preacher in the Pittsburg Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Being in Virginia at the time the Western Virginia Conference was formed, he became a member of that body and was its Secretary for a number of years. In the thirteen years which Mr. Dawson devoted to the pastoral work, he filled appointments at Weston, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, and Fourth Street and Chapline Street Stations in this city, with credit to himself, profit to his charges, and advantage to the church.

Since the summer of 1860, he has resided in Ritchie county, operating in the ministry as a "local" preacher, and also engaged in the business of a merchant. For several years he has suffered from a bronchial affection, at times being disabled for weeks and even months from public speaking.

Never having had any sympathy with Southern institutions, Mr. Dawson has been from the incipiency of the rebellion, most determined and uncompromising in his resistance to its treason and atrocity. Every instinct of his nature as well as every precept of his education makes him the friend and advocate of the Federal Union, and the earnest supporter of the war for its maintenance and vindication. He has no terms for the rebels except those of General Grant. His county is one of the most loyal in the State, and indeed "Little Ritchie" claims to have sent more soldiers to the field according to population than any other in the State. When we consider how easy it is for a few leading men to give tone to the public sentiment of a county, we may justly attribute some of the unconditional loyalty of Little Ritchie to the exertions and influence of the subject of this sketch. Another evidence of it is his popularity at home, he having been elected to his present position by a large majority over A. J. Wilson, who was a member of the Constitutional Convention, and who is an old and highly esteemed citizen of the county.

Politically Mr. Dawson has been a whig, of the Henry Clay school, and so much attached to the principles represented by that party that he is very loth to give them up, though the organization that gave them vitality is dissolved. At present he is content with being a whole souled new State and Free State man. In person, Mr. Dawson is about five feet ten or eleven inches high and quite spare and slender in figure. His face is thin, colorless and sallow; the cheeks sunken, indicating ill health, though his unvarying cheerfulness would contradict the idea. - Hair dark, fine, straight, thin, and worn short. Eyes deep brown and bright with intelligence. Nose rather pointed and prominent, though not large. Shaves clean except a little remnant of a whisker under the chin, which he probably keeps as a sort of nest egg for next winter. Mr. Dawson makes no speeches, though he offers numerous resolutions:all written in a uniformly beautiful back-hand. He is a member of the Committees on Education, Enrolled Bills and probably some others. Is suave and agreeable in manner, a good talker, wide awake, and exercises considerable influence. Undoubtedly possesses elements of popularity. I should take him to be a good business man, and should think he would succeed as a merchant even better than a minister. He looks more like one. Dresses unpretendingly; takes a good deal of stock in A. Lincoln; goes in for giving his administration a hearty support and for thrashing the rebels on all occasions, and don't care a great deal how its done so it is well done when 'tis done.

Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History