slate river ramblings . . . .

Buckingham Notables: Frank Moss

Virginia State Capitol

During the Reconstruction Era, Francis “Frank” Moss represented Buckingham County at the Virginia Convention of 1867–1868 and, later, was elected Senator. An outspoken and controversial Republican, in 1871, Senator Moss opposed the acquisition of a portrait of Robert E. Lee to hang in the Capitol building.

In a post at the Library of Virginia blog Out of the Box entitled “STATUE STORIES: THOMAS J. JACKSON AND CIVIL WAR REMEMBRANCE,” Frank Moss’ opinion was mentioned:

In 1871 the state had proposed an acquisition of $600 for a portrait of Robert E. Lee to hang in the Capitol. Senator Frank Moss, an African American legislator from Buckingham County, took the floor to object to the appropriation. Moss felt that as “Gen. Lee had fought to keep him in slavery…he couldn’t vote to put his picture on these walls.” While Moss’s opposition made the newspapers, the portrait purchase was approved. By 1875, Moss was serving in the House of Delegates. Together with three white Republican lawmakers—Charles G. Bickings, Godfrey May, and George W. Young—Moss and fellow African American delegates Peter Jacob Carter, Matt Clark, Henry Cox, William Gilliam, James P. Goodwyn, Ross Hamilton, H. Clay Harris, Henry C. Hill, Rufus S. Jones, and Robert H. Whitaker, voted against the Jackson [statue] appropriation. They were outnumbered, and the bill was passed.

Was Frank Moss a former slave? His entry at Wikipedia claims that he was born a free black man, a member of  an African-American family that had been free for several generations.

Can a Slate River Ramblings reader shed light on this discrepancy? If so please comment.