William H. Mahone of Virginia: An Intellectual Biography, 1830--1890

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bradley G. Bond

Advisor Department



William H. Mahone of Virginia is an intellectual history of ante and postbellum Virginia told through Mahone as a central figure. While much has been written about Mahone as leader of the Readjuster Party in Virginia in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the present study highlights how and why Mahone--a railroad man turned Confederate general turned prominent national political figure despite humble upbringing--came to be a leader of Virginia. Mahone lead a successful political revolt in the 1870s because he little forgot his rural, economically-disadvantaged childhood, as he campaigned for socially progressive change in the Old Dominion. His management skill and engineering erudition came to the forefront before the war. Mahone's reputation as a leader expanded during the war, especially after his successful repulse of Federal troops at the Battle of the Crater. Feeding off public awareness and celebration of his managerial skills as displayed in business and on the battlefield, Mahone led a successful grassroots political revolt in an effort to rebuild the Republican Party in Virginia after Reconstruction and in an effort to maintain Virginia's long-held republican character.