Rives, William C.

Born: 1793-05-04 Amherst County, Virginia

Died: 1868-04-25 Charlottesville, Virginia

Flourished: Virginia

Born into a prominent Amherst County, Virginia, family, Rives received private tutoring before attending Hampden-Sydney College, followed by the College of William and Mary, from which he graduated in 1809. He studied law with Thomas Jefferson, earning admittance to the bar around 1814, and commencing practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1816, he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention. From 1817 to 1822, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates. In 1823, he won election as a Jacksonian Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving in that body until 1829, when he resigned to become Andrew Jackson's ambassador to France. He remained in this post until 1832, and during his tenure, he succeeded in convincing the French to pay U.S. spoliation claims arising from the Napoleonic Wars. In 1832, the Virginia Legislature elected Rives as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. He would serve in the Senate until 1845--his last term as a member of the Whig Party. From 1849 to 1853, he again served as ambassador to France. During the secession winter of 1860-61, he was a delegate to the peace conference in Washington. From 1861 to 1862, he represented Virginia in the Provisional Confederate Congress, and from 1864 to 1865, he was a member of the Second Confederate Congress.

Gravestone, Rives Troubetzkoy Cemetery, Cismont, VA; Mitchell Snay, "Rives, William Cabell," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 18:574-75.