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December 14, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part I

Caesar Perkins. Courtesy E. Renée Ingram and Charles W. White, Sr.

To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

In 1870, Caesar (a.k.a. Cesar) Perkins, “Mulatto,” lived in Buckingham County’s Maysville Township. Thirty years old, he was probably the youngest African American on Lt. Col. Jordan’s list. His contribution to Virginia’s post-Civil War government earned him a lengthy entry at Encyclopedia Virginia. What follows is a summary of his political career and some of his other accomplishments.

According to the 1900 census, Caesar Perkins was born in March of 1839. In 1870, his mother, Clarisse (a.k.a. “Clarissy”), age forty-seven, and Joseph Moseley (a.k.a. Mosley), age seventy, lived together in Buckingham’s James River Township; their relationship is not stated on the census. Several sources identify them as husband and wife, despite their age difference. It has been suggested that Perkins adopted the surname of his “last,” former owner, William H. Perkins, who was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates during the 1853–1854 session.

Caesar Perkins first married a woman named Susan (a.k.a. Susannah). Her maiden name may have been Eldridge. In 1880, her sister, Lavinia Eldridge, was living with the Perkins family. Together, Caesar and Susan had two daughters, Mary A. (born abt. 1862) and Mildred (born abt. 1868).

In an election on July 6, 1869, Caesar Perkins and a man named James H. Noble defeated candidates of the Conservative Party, winning by about 225 votes, earning two seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates. They would be among the men to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

For more about the forming of the Conservative Party in Buckingham County click here:

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VIII

In the fall of 1869, Caesar Perkins attended a convention of Radical Republicans. The goal was to reorganize and strengthen the party against the Conservatives who had been victorious in recent elections. During 1870–1871, Perkins was on the Committee of Claims in the General Assembly.

Significantly, in January of 1873, Perkins was named by the Governor of Virginia as one of the curators to oversee the educational fund for Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). Click here for more about Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.

Simultaneously, Perkins continued his work with the Republican Party and, in 1884, he was named as an alternate delegate to the Republican national convention in Chicago. In 1887, he served a second term in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Buckingham and Cumberland counties.

For much more about African American politicians, educators, and religious leaders in Buckingham County, Virginia, consult Buckingham County by E. Renée Ingram and Charles W. White, Sr.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part II

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