Lawyer and sectional leader Philip Doddridge (May 17, 1773-November 19, 1832) was born near Bedford, Pennsylvania. As an infant he moved with his family, including older brother Joseph Doddridge, to Washington County, Pennsylvania. At age 17 he moved again with his family to nearby Wellsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), and there he read for the law. He became successful as a circuit lawyer, and his reputation grew throughout the region. He was known as a great public speaker.
Doddridge served in the Virginia State Senate from 1804 to 1809, and beginning in 1815 he represented Brooke County intermittently for several terms in the House of Delegates. He soon took up the causes of the people living in the western part of the state. He fought to repeal the law that qualified only landholders to vote and became a leader for public education. In 1829, he was one of four selected to represent the northern district of Western Virginia at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829–30, a distinguished gathering including among its other members James Madison, James Monroe, and John Marshall. The convention attempted unsuccessfully to address the growing east-west sectionalism in Virginia. Doddridge was a major spokesman for the trans-Allegheny region. He failed at the convention, but his arguments against the East were influential in creating sentiment for the subsequent separation of West Virginia from Virginia.
In 1828, Doddridge was elected to Congress and reelected in 1830. Daniel Webster said of him, ‘‘He was the only man I ever feared to meet in debate.’’ Philip Doddridge died in Washington and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Doddridge County was named in his honor in 1845.
This Article was written by Dan B. Fleming
Last Revised on August 04, 2015
Ambler, Charles H. & Festus P. Summers. West Virginia: The Mountain State. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1958.
Lambert, Oscar D. Pioneer Leaders of Western Virginia. Parkersburg: Scholl Printing, 1935.
Cite This Article
Fleming, Dan B. "Philip Doddridge." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 04 August 2015. Web. 26 February 2017.