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John Francis Lewis
9th and 14th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 1, 1882 – January 1, 1886
GovernorWilliam E. Cameron
Preceded byJames A. Walker
Succeeded byJohn E. Massey
In office
October 5, 1869 – January 1, 1870
GovernorGilbert Carlton Walker
Preceded byLeopold C. P. Cowper
Succeeded byJohn Lawrence Marye, Jr.
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
January 26, 1870 – March 4, 1875
Preceded byLemuel J. Bowden
Succeeded byRobert E. Withers
Personal details
Born(1818-03-01)March 1, 1818
Lynnwood, Virginia
DiedSeptember 2, 1895(1895-09-02) (aged 77)
Lynnwood, Virginia
Political partyRepublican

John Francis Lewis (March 1, 1818 – September 2, 1895) was an American planter and politician from Rockingham County, Virginia. He represented Rockingham County as a Whig during the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861 and refused to sign the final document, and twice served as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia following the American Civil War and represented Virginia as a Republican in the United States Senate during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War.

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Early and family life

John F. Lewis was born on the "Lynnwood" plantation in rural Rockingham County, Virginia, a son of Samuel Hance Lewis (1794–1869) and Nancy Cameron Lewis (1795–1841). He attended a private school and farmed as a young man. He owned one 25 year old enslaved mulatto woman in 1850.[1] He (or nore likely another John Lewis who married a woman named Amanda in Rockingham District 1) owned 8 slaves in 1860.

Lewis married Serena Helen Sheffey (1823–1901) in October 1842, and they raised two sons and four daughters. Daniel Sheffey Lewis (1843-1912) became a newspaperman as well as served for many years as treasurer of the city of Harrisonburg, and became one of the state's most prominent Republicans. His brother John Francis Lewis Jr. (1860-1915), survived him but committed suicide after suffering a stroke and learning he would not heal completely.


He was a delegate to the Virginia secession convention in 1861, but refused to sign the ordinance of secession. He was the only member from east of the Allegheny Mountains that refused to endorse the document.

During the Civil War, portions of the Battle of Port Republic were fought on his family's land.

Lewis was an unsuccessful Union Party candidate for Congress in 1865. He was elected as Virginia's lieutenant governor in 1869 and served from October 5 of that year until January 1, 1870. Upon the readmission of Virginia to representation in the U.S. Congress, Lewis was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from January 26, 1870, to March 4, 1875. He served on the Committee on the District of Columbia in the Forty-third Congress. He was not a candidate for reelection as the Republicans had already become a minority party by 1874[2] and wouldn't control either house on their own in Virginia for the rest of the 19th century.

He returned home and was appointed by Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes as the United States Marshal for the western district of Virginia 1875–1882, when he resigned. Lewis was again elected lieutenant governor in 1881, alongside Readjuster Party candidate William E. Cameron, and served with him from 1882 to 1886. After his term, no Republican served as Virginia's lieutenant governor until John N. Dalton served from 1974 to 1978.

He retired from politics after his term and resumed farming.

Death and legacy

Lewis died at Lynnwood in Rockingham County, Virginia. He was buried in the family burial ground on the plantation.


  1. ^ 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Slave Schedule for District 56 and a half, Rockingham County, Virginia, p. 9 of 11 on
  2. ^ "The Republican Party of Virginia in the Nineteenth Century".

External links

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by  U.S. senator (Class 1) from Virginia
January 26, 1870 – March 4, 1875
Served alongside: John W. Johnston
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 26 May 2023, at 20:19
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