A Country to Serve
“In presenting such a measure I cannot but regret that I shall be deprived of the support of many members of this body with whom I have lately stood side by side in upholding and defending the principles on which it rests. . . . In taking this course, I know full well, Mr. President, I am to incur the anathemas of party. But I can never forget that I have a country to serve as well as a party to obey. . . .”[US Senator William Cabell Rives of Virginia, 1838 referring to his proposal of response to the economic distress caused by the Panic of 1837.]
One of Virginia’s favorite sons, William Cabell Rives was a plantation and slave owner. Born in the center of the commonwealth in 1793, Rives was tutored by his neighbor Thomas Jefferson. As a politician he served in the U.S. Senate as well as U.S. Minister to France during the revolution of 1830. An opponent of secession he represented Virginia at the Peace Conference in Washington, D.C. in February of 1861. Failing to stem the rising tide of political unrest, he returned to his home and served as a Virginia representative in the Confederate Congress. After the Civil War, Rives joined U.S. Grant, Hamilton Fish, and David Farragut as a trustee of the Peabody Education Fund, distributing two million dollars to help the South rebuild. Rives descendant Barclay Rives, an historian and author of several books of local history, had written a detailed biography of his important yet little known ancestor. The opportunity to design this book would return me to a period of American history that linked the work I had done for Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello with the time I spent promoting the preservation of Civil War battlefields for the Civil War Trust. I was eager for the opportunity to immerse myself in this period of history. The resulting work is a fascinating look at the antebellum politics of this country. Illustrated with images collected by Barclay during his research, it is an easily readable history of this important era and I am sure it will become a valuable reference in classes in American history. I designed the book to comfortably fit within the genre of university press publications where it belongs. The text font is a very friendly classically inspired face, Adobe Jenson.
William Cabell Rives: A Country to Serve
Atelerix Press, 2014
Soft cover, 6×9 inches