John Henry Alexander Biography

Submitted by Alice Warner

Author: Lyon G. Tyler LLD

ALEXANDER, JOHN HENRY, lawyer, was born in Clarke county, Virginia, September
23, 1846. His father, William C., was a farmer of Clarke county, a man of
integrity, decision of character, business ability, and marked literary
proclivities. He neither held nor desired public office, but followed the even
tenor of his way, as an unobtrusive farmer and private citizen. John H.'s mother
was Susan C. Alexander, a woman of great force of character and of intellectual
tastes : to her, by her husband's early death, fell the training of her son; and
all that he is, he owes to the influence of his mother. After giving him such
home training as was proper to set him on the way of righteousness, she sent him
to a preparatory school of which the late Virginius Dabney was principal; here
he received a great stimulus toward intellectual pursuits, under one of the most
famous of the post-bellum teachers of Virginia. From this school he proceeded to
the University of Virginia, from which he was graduated in 1870 with the degree
of B. L. At the university young Alexander came under the influence of Dr. W. H.
McGuffey, and of John B. Minor, the famous law professor, whose name has long
been a household word among the lawyers of Virginia.

With such teachers and such home training, Mr. Alexander had moral and mental
capital to take him through life. In addition to this, however, he had family
traditions to inspire him to do something. His father's father, John Alexander,
was a soldier of the War of 1812. John's father, William, was a soldier of the
Revolution. The earliest American ancestor of the Alexanders was John Richard
(Alexander), who came from Scotland, and settled in Dumfries, Prince William
county, Virginia, about 1750.

With such vigorous Scotch blood coursing through his veins, with such training
as he received from his mother, and with such teachers as the fates provided
him, we can see that the career of John H. Alexander is but a logical evolution.
He might have been a failure. He might have thrown himself in the face of the
forces that were working to make him a man; but, with natural ability and such
environments, without any interference on his part, he is what he is.

In boyhood, John Alexander read books of adventure, such as Scott's novels, etc.
In later life, he fed his mind upon metaphysical works and standard poetry, the
one class training his logical powers; the other, his imagination and his taste.
Take a young man so trained, with teachers already named, put him in close touch
with such older men as Dr. William H. McGuffey, Major Burr P. Noland, General
William H. Payne, and we see a product of a high order.

In spite of his youth, Mr. Alexander served one year in the Confederate army,
with Mosby's Rangers ; and his experience has taken shape in a lecture on
Mosby's men, which he has frequently delivered. He occasionally writes for the
press on similar topics.

Mr. Alexander began life in 1871 as a lawyer in Middleburg, Virginia. As a boy,
he longed to be a lawyer; hung around the courthouse while important cases were
being argued. All the influences around his youth at Warrenton, Virginia, were
such as to create within him a thirst for honorable distinction in law. This
thirst was no wise abated while he sat at the feet of John B. Minor, the
greatest law teacher ever known to living generations of Virginians. An
honorable ambition has guided Mr. Alexander from youth to ripe maturity. It
stimulated and inspired him when General William H. Payne, the knightly paladin
of Warrenton, asked him to become his partner; and the intimacy between these
two spirits was a joy to both.

Mr. Alexander has rendered valuable service to his people as chairman of the
Democratic committee of Loudoun county. He belongs to several social and
beneficiary orders, such as the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, and the
Masonic order. He is a member of the supreme tribunal of the first named, and
has been its chief tribune since 1898.

What is the philosophy of this successful life? What is the basic principle upon
which John H. Alexander has built his vigorous manhood? Let us hear his advice
to young Americans: Be uncompromisingly loyal to the Truth." There we have it.
The poet said. " He is a freeman whom the truth makes free." A greater yet put
it in terms of eternal life.

October 1, 1874, Mr. Alexander married Emma H. Hughes, of Loudoun county,
Virginia. They have had six children ; five survive.

His address is Leesburg. Virginia.

Additional Comments:
From Men of Mark in Virginia: Ideals of American Life by Lyon G. Tyler LLD, 1907.

 

 

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Clarke County, Virginia

 

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