Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Bunning Seat -- John Pope

These days, Northern Virginia is the land of opportunity. Every year, it attracts thousands of new citizens from all over the country and all over the world. Go into certain elementary schools in Northern Virginia and you won't just hear English and Spanish -- you'll hear Arabic, Hindi, Vietnamese, and a raft of other tongues.

But in the late 1700s, Northern Virginia was in decline. The Old Dominion was coming up on its 200th birthday, and a lot of the land was played out. Plus the whole area was becoming too crowded for the tastes of those who cared about their privacy. So a lot of folks left Northern Virginia for greener pastures.

One of those men was John Pope, who was born in Prince William County, Virginia in 1770. During his youth, he lost one of his arms -- but this seems to have made very little difference to his career. Like the other men we have studied, he studied law and moved to Kentucky (Springfield, this time). He got himself elected to the Kentucky House (as a Democrat-Republican, of course), and he was sent to the Senate in the election of 1806. He actually served his full term -- from March 4, 1807 to March 3, 1813 -- and was even elected President pro tem of the Senate.

Then he came home. I don't know if he had political differences with the legislature or not. As we will see more clearly in the next entry, it is not always clear why folks left the Senate.

From 1829 to 1835, he served as the Governor of the Arkansas Territory. While there he commissioned the building of the Arkansas State House and had a county named after him. Then he returned to Kentucky. From 1837 to 1843, he served as a Whig in the House of Representatives, but lost his seat in the election of 1842. He died in Springfield on July 12, 1845 -- having found, for the most part, the success he left Northern Virginia to seek.

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