Revolutionary Family Man - Alexander Spotswood
When I first began researching a story on Alexander Spotswood, I planned on writing about the time he sold Thomas Jefferson a horse. Instead, I came upon the more interesting tale of Spotswood’s marriage.
But, in case you were curious, in 1775 Alexander Spotswood sold Thomas Jefferson a horse. The steed’s name was ‘The General.’
Anyway, on to today’s tale…
Alexander Spotswood shared a name with his grandfather, a former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia who played a large role in developing the colony from a settlement into the soon-to-be-State on the eve of Revolution. (Also, he sent out the expedition which killed the famous pirate Blackbeard).
The younger Alexander was as close to royalty as a colonist could get.
And, in 1769, he married into a family that would later become as close to royalty as an American could get.
Elizabeth Washington’s father, Augustine, passed away when she was very young. As a result, she was left in the care of her Uncle George.
That Uncle George was, you guessed it, none other than George Washington.
Back then, the patriarch of a family was given final say over who the young woman (and often, young men) could marry.
That being said, as a leader in one of Virginia’s up and coming wealthy families, it must have been an easy decision for Washington to accept Spotswood’s (and his powerful family’s) proposal to his niece.
Furthermore, though I could not find a primary source to verify this, it is probable that, as her legal guardian, George was the man to give Elizabeth away at the altar.
Alexander Spotswood joined the Continental Army early in the Revolutionary War, making his way up to Colonel.
Concerned about what might happen to Elizabeth if he were to be killed, Alexander made a pack with his brother, John. If one of the men were to die, the other would resign from the army and take care of both families.
Honoring this compact, Alexander left the army when John Spotswood was killed at the Battle of Germantown.
Or was he…
Back from the Dead
It turns out that, despite his death being published in the papers, John survived his wounds in a British prison.
When he was revealed to still be alive two years later, Alexander attempted to rejoin the Continental Army. Unfortunately, several men had passed him in rank and instead he was commissioned as a Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia.
The Revolutionary War soon ended and Alexander retired to his estate where he and General Washington (who was for all intents and purposes his father-in-law) kept up a correspondence regarding a little about their family and a lot about their plantations.
Interested in reading about more Revolutionary Weddings?
Check out these articles:
As I said in this article, Spotswood’s grandfather was a large part of Virginia’s development.
To learn more about the older Alexander Spotswood, check out ‘Rediscovering Christanna’ which looks at an important fort he created to protect the settlers from Native Americans (and vise versa).
Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same) but be warned, it is very rare and therefore expensive.
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