Thomas Russell Bowden was born on May 20, 1841, near Williamsburg, the son of Lemuel J. Bowden and Martha Ellen Shackelford Bowden, and grew up on one of his father's farms. In 1859 he entered the College of William and Mary, where he studied Latin, Greek, French, history, and economics for two years. As a member of the college's Phoenix Literary Society, Bowden won a gold medal for his debating skills. He probably also studied law in his father's Williamsburg office.
Bowden also entered politics. In May 1863 a convention of Virginia Unionists had nominated a ticket headed by Governor Francis H. Pierpont for the so-called Restored government of Virginia, but the candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general withdrew from the race. Bowden then became the Unionist candidate for attorney general and was easily elected with the rest of the slate on May 28, 1863, by a small turnout of voters in Alexandria and other Virginia jurisdictions occupied by Northern forces. With 2,743 votes Bowden became the youngest attorney general of Virginia at the age of twenty-two.
On April 27, 1869, Bowden married Rosa Marion Sands, of Williamsburg. They had one daughter. Not long after leaving office as attorney general, Bowden moved to Washington, D.C., where he practiced law for more than twenty years. In August 1870 he was arrested in connection with a Richmond forgery case arising out of the administration of an estate in which he had been briefly involved. The count against him was dropped on September 13, and thanks in part to evidence Bowden produced, former Richmond mayor George Chahoon was subsequently convicted of forgery.
In addition to practicing law, Bowden published Blunders in Educated Circles Corrected (1889), a short book dedicated to the correction of common errors in grammar and English usage. Bowden died in Washington, D.C., on July 6, 1893, and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Williamsburg.
May 20, 1841 - Thomas R. Bowden is born near Williamsburg, the son of Lemuel J. Bowden and Martha Ellen Shackelford Bowden.
1859 - Thomas R. Bowden enters the College of William and Mary, where he studies Latin, Greek, French, history, and economics for two years.
May 28, 1863 - Thomas R. Bowden is elected attorney general of the Restored government of Virginia by a small turnout of voters in Alexandria and other Virginia jurisdictions occupied by Union forces. He becomes the youngest attorney general of Virginia at the age of twenty-two.
January–February 1866 - Attorney General Thomas R. Bowden is in the peculiar position of being both a witness and a central figure in a two-pronged legislative investigation of his uncle's and his own administration of the Eastern Lunatic Asylum's funds and the disappearance of supplies in 1862, among other things. No action is taken against him.
March 9, 1869 - A Republican Party convention nominates Henry Horatio Wells for governor, J. D. Harris, an African American, for lieutenant governor, and Thomas R. Bowden for attorney general.
April 27, 1869 - Thomas R. Bowden and Rosa Marion Sands, of Williamsburg, marry.
July 6, 1869 - James Craig Taylor, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, defeats the incumbent Republican candidate, Thomas R. Bowden.
August 1, 1869 - Thomas R. Bowden resigns as attorney general after his electoral defeat.
August 1870 - Thomas R. Bowden is arrested in connection with a Richmond forgery case arising out of the administration of an estate in which he has been briefly been involved.
September 13, 1870 - A forgery charge against Thomas R. Bowden is dropped. Former Richmond mayor George Chahoon is subsequently charged and convicted in the case arising out of the administration of an estate.
July 6, 1893 - Thomas R. Bowden dies in Washington, D.C. He is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Williamsburg.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Gunter, D. W., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Thomas R. Bowden (1841–1893). (2015, November 2). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Bowden_Thomas_Russell_1841-1893.
- MLA Citation:
Gunter, Donald W. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Thomas R. Bowden (1841–1893)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2 Nov. 2015. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: May 14, 2013 | Last modified: November 2, 2015