Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PLEASANTS, James, senator, born in Leechland county, Virginia, 24 October, 1769; died at his residence, "Contention," Goochland county, Virginia, 9 November, 1839. He was a first cousin of Thomas Jefferson. He was educated by private tutors, studied law, was admitted to the bar of his native county, and enjoyed an extensive practice, especially as an advocate. He was a member of the legislature in 1796, having been elected as a Republican, clerk of the house in 1803-'11, and from the latter date till 1819 was in congress. He then became United States senator, served in 1819-'22, when he resigned, and was governor of Virginia for the succeeding three years. During his term of office, in 1824, Lafayette visited Virginia. He was a delegate to the Virginia constitutional convention in 1829-'30, and subsequently declined the appointment of judge of the circuit court and of the Virginia court of appeals. The county of Pleasants, now West Virginia, is named in his honor. John Randolph of Roanoke said of him : "James Pleasants never made an enemy nor lost a friend."--His son, John Hampden, journalist, born in Goochland county, Virginia, 4 January, 1797; died in Richmond, Virginia, 27 February, 1846, was educated at William and Mary college, and was admitted to the bar at an early age, but abandoned law for journalism, and founded and became editor of the Lynchburg " Virginian." He subsequently removed to Richmond, Virginia, and in 1824 founded the "Constitutional Whig and Public Advertiser," and was its chief editor for twenty-two years. He was killed in a duel with Thomas Richie, Jr., of the "Richmond Enquirer," a Democratic organ. Mr. Pleasants was a brilliant editor and paragraphist, and his journal was the principal exponent of the Whig party in Virginia. His brother Whigs erected a monument to his memory, on which his gallant and self-sacrificing patriotism is recorded.
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