Wyndham Robertson


Wyndham Robertson : biography

January 26, 1803 – February 11, 1888
"And now, after twenty years’ experience of yet unripened results, I have no regrets, nor repent a single act of my State, or myself, in these unhappy affairs – welcoming the end of slavery, but still believing it would have been reached without the horrors of war."
Wyndham RobertsonRobertson, Pocahontas and her Descendants, 83

Robertson was re-elected to the House of Delegates for the next two sessions, ending in 1865.Leonard, The General Assembly of Virginia, 480, 485. In 1863, he opposed and helped to defeat a bill to fix the prices of food, which he believed was "fraught with the direst mischief". When a committee of citizens presented a resolution asking their representatives to support a similar bill or resign, Robertson refused. When he found that his colleagues had already acquiesced, he resigned so as not to misrepresent his constituents. The House, however, requested that his resignation be withdrawn until the wishes of his constituents could be determined. A formal poll was held and it was determined that a majority did not support the bill and Robertson retained his seat.

After the war, he moved back to Abingdon. During Reconstruction, Robertson was a member of the Committee of Nine, led by Alexander H. H. Stuart, that sought Virginia’s readmission to the Union.Brenaman, 78 At issue was the new state constitution, which included disenfranchisement of many white males. The committee successfully negotiated with the Federal government to have that clause voted on separately, so that Virginians would accept and ratify the new constitution and so rejoin the Union. He died on February 11, 1888, and was buried at Cobbs, Chesterfield County.

Legacy and writings

Robertson was an early donor to Emory and Henry College, which later endowed the Robertson prize medal for "encouraging oratory".Summers, History of Southwest Virginia, 578

After the American Civil War, Northern writers began questioning the validity of the rescue story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, attacking the accounts of the historical role played by both, as well as that of her husband John Rolfe. The movement was led by Henry Adams, a descendant of John Adams whose rival was John Randolph of Roanoke, a descendant of Pocahontas. Several Virginians replied, one of whom was Robertson. "Northern attacks disturbed him so much that he prepared a detailed study" and wrote Pocahontas alias Matoaka and Her Descendants through Her Marriage with John Rolfe. He traced her descendants, who included the Bollings, Branches, Lewises, Randolphs, and Pages, as well as his own family. His thesis was that because her descendants were notable, so was she. "History, poetry, and art," wrote Robertson, "have vied with one another in investing her name from that day to the present with a halo of surpassing brightness."