Politicians | Gilliams of Virginia

Virginia State Legislative Photographs
Updated March 21, 2016

Background
The 1776 Virginia Constitution confirmed a bicameral legislature, consisting of the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia. The present state Constitution provides that the House of Delegates shall consist of 90 to 100 members and the Senate shall consist of 33 to 40 members. Arranged chronologically, the Library of Virginia’s, Virginia State Legislature Photograph Collection contains annual composite portraits of the General Assembly. The photographs range in date from 1857 to 2004, and are primarily the work of the Foster Studio and later the Dementi Studio of Richmond.


1895-1896
Virginia House of Delegates, session 1895-96

Samuel Yates Gilliam
[Samuel Yates Gilliam in 1900 was living in Namozine, Dinwiddie County with his wife Martha Page Cox. Samuel was born 18 Jan 1849, at Burnt Quarter, Brunswick County, to Col. John William Gilliam and Mary Elizabeth Coleman Goodwyn.

On October 3rd, 1877 a group of the most esteemed men of Dinwiddie, VA drafted a letter to the attorney S.Y. Gilliam expressing their nomination of him for a seat in the House of Delegates. In their letter, these men announced that they felt that little progress and “no fair or certain” conclusion was reached with the meeting at the courthouse on September 17th. Gilliam’s reply, in between the thanks for the vote of confidence, announced that he was now willing to enter the election. Gilliam’s claimed that he felt an obligation to attach his name to the ballot as he thought it would prove unjust to leave Powell on as the lone conservative candidate for Virginians to choose from. Gilliam’s reply indicated that he agreed not to leave “a single abuse or extravagance if there is any possible means known to me of reaching and destroying it.” Furthermore, and fore-shadowing today’s oft-used political strategy of exposing the other’s faults before one’s own strengths, Gilliam agreed to inform the public fully of all points of difference between Powell and himself. The letter is an important document in that it serves as a solid microcosm of the political process in the 19th century. The letter sent from within the small sphere of the Virginia elite to a component of this elite, and with no mention of the public good or common man, affirms the political nature at this time. With women still unable to vote, and with blacks struggling to go to the polls in the post-reconstruction era, America’s political culture was defined strictly by the White upper class—with their decisions arguably aimed principally at providing benefit to chiefly their own.
Letter to and Response from S.Y. Gilliam Esquire, Burnt Quarter, October 3, 1877, Broadsides 1877 Special Collections, University of Virginia]

1912
Virginia, House of Delegates, session 1912

Robert Gilliam, Jr.
[Robert Gilliam was born 6 Oct 1881, in Petersburg, VA to Robert Gilliam and Mary Love Bragg, daughter of former North Carolina governor Thomas Bragg]

1918
Virginia House of Delegates, session 1918

Robert Gilliam, Jr.
[Robert Gilliam was born 6 Oct 1881, in Petersburg, VA to Robert Gilliam and Mary Love Bragg, daughter of former North Carolina governor Thomas Bragg]

1871-1872
Legislature of Virginia, session 1871 and 1872

Wm. Gilliam
[The 1871–1872 session of the Virginia General Assembly included some of the first African Americans to hold public office in the state. In 1870 William Gilliam was living in the household of his father Reuben and his mother, Patience Walker. William is listed as a mulatto. It is likely that William is the grandson of Reuben Meriwether Gilliam. In 1880 William, age 38, is listed with wife Susan and five children: John H., Martha, Louisa L., William S., and Lucrecia. William is again listed as a farmer.]

Also holding office in 1871 was James Skelton Gilliam

J. S. Gilliam
[Dr. James Skelton Gilliam, born 15 FEb 1835 in Petersburg, VA to Robert Gililiam and Janet Colquhoun. He married Elizabeth Bates Hudnall and practiced medicine in Lancaster and Northumberland Counties, VA.]

1874
Legislature of Virginia, session 1874

Wm. S. Gilman
[William S. Gilman was born in 1831 to Granville and Mary H. Gilman. Granville was the son of Dudley Gilman.]


1928
The Senate of Virginia, 1928

Robert Gilliam, Jr.
[Robert Gilliam was born 6 Oct 1881, in Petersburg, VA to Robert Gilliam and Mary Love Bragg, daughter of former North Carolina governor Thomas Bragg]

1932
The Senate of Virginia, 1932

Robert Gilliam, Jr
[Robert Gilliam was born 6 Oct 1881, in Petersburg, VA to Robert Gilliam and Mary Love Bragg, daughter of former North Carolina governor Thomas Bragg]

1945
Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1945

Robert Gilliam, Jr.
[Robert Gilliam was born 6 Oct 1881, in Petersburg, VA to Robert Gilliam and Mary Love Bragg, daughter of former North Carolina governor Thomas Bragg]



Sources
  • Library of Virginia. Virginia Legislature Photograph Collection