Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sort of a Virginia book I got in Charlottesville

Playing with Wikipedia, I wrote the little article on a judge of the W.D. Va. named Alexander Rives, who was the brother of William Cabell Rives, who was the grandfather of Amelie Rives, whose marriage to John Armstrong Chanler is the subject of Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age, by Donna M. Lucey.

Having read the book, I would say that it is a somewhat lame account of a fascinating story. I say lame by contrast with the account of the family of the Roosevelts in Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt, from about the same era, or by contrast with the account of Virginia history as for example in the Virginius Dabney book, which I have been reading.

Part of the book is about the litigation by Chanler over his sanity. He escaped from the asylum and hid out in Virginia, then turned up and had some kind of hearing in Virginia, where his lawyers included Micajah Woods, the Commonwealth's attorney in Charlottesville, another interesting character from that era. According to this account in the New York Times of Chanler's reappearance, his lawyers were Woods and John W. Daniel and Armistead Gordon from Virginia, and Augustus Van Wyck from New York.

Ms. Rives was kin somehow to Thomas Nelson Page, another well-known Virginia lawyer, who was a co-author of at least one book with Gordon, who like Woods was a president of the Virginia Bar Association.

No comments: