“Apple brandy seemed to flow from every rock.”

John T. Harris’ Independent Campaign for Congress, 1859

Thursday, June 20, 2024, 7 pm | In-Person & Zoom Webinar

Webinar registration required

With author Dale Harter

When John T. Harris decided to run as an independent candidate for Congress in 1858-1859, he did so after losing the official nomination at the Democratic Party convention in Harrisonburg, where he lived and worked as a lawyer and as the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Rockingham County. After engaging in a heated campaign that old Democrats and former Whigs in the Shenandoah Valley reportedly were still talking about at the end of the 19th Century, Harris won the election and served in Congress until resigning his seat in March 1861. He began penning his memoirs shortly before his death in 1899, writing at length about the campaign and the rough and tumble battles with his political opponents.

Using Harris’s memoirs and articles from the newspapers of the day in Harrisonburg and Staunton, Harter will discuss Harris’s independent campaign and the political world it revealed in the Shenandoah Valley before the Civil War.

Dale Harter, a Rockingham County native, is the librarian at Albert Hill Middle School, in Richmond. He began researching John T. Harris as an undergraduate at James Madison University and went on to edit Harris’s memoirs for his master’s thesis at the University of South Carolina. Along with his wife Tracy, he established the archives for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Society and edited the Society’s newsletter for many years. He also was the Society’s museum curator when it was located in Harrisonburg and then known as the Warren-Sipe Museum.