Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. W. Harrison Daniel

Second Advisor

Dr. David C. Evans

Third Advisor

Dr. Stuart L. Wheeler


The decade of the 1890s was a complex period in the political history of Virginia. Virginia had experienced prosperity because of the development of railroads after the Civil War. Because of this contribution to statewide growth, the railroads had developed monopolistic characteristics which prompted an ambivalent response from most Virginians. It was said that during the 1890s Virginia's railroads controlled the state legislature through the medium of the Democratic Party. During this period before the creation of laws dealing with political conflicts of interests, Henry Taylor Wickham represented the counties of Caroline and Hanover in the Virginia Senate. In 1937, when the Senator was eighty-eight years old, an associate suggested that Wickham should write a memoir of the Senator's career in the era of "railroad politics." Wickham refused to devote his declining years to a project which he felt would create unnecessary controversy. Wickham had considered it best to bury the past, and he left no personal account of his role in Democratic state politics. Wickham, a high ranking railroad official, had been in the "inner sanctum" of the Virginia Democracy. This thesis represents the first attempt to interpret Wickham's role as a statesman during the controversial era of the 1890s. The author has drawn extensively from newspaper accounts in his research.

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