U.S. and Confederate Congressman Alexander Robinson Boteler (May 16, 1815-May 8, 1892) was born in Shepherdstown. He was a farmer and a businessman, owning a hydraulic cement plant on the Potomac River near Pack Horse Ford at Shepherdstown. Boteler was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig in 1859. A slave owner, he hoped to preserve both slavery and Virginia’s place in the Union, but after Virginia seceded Boteler served in the Confederate Congress. He designed the seal of the Confederate States of America, which incorporated a likeness of George Washington.
Boteler served as a volunteer aide to Stonewall Jackson, while continuing in the Confederate Congress in Richmond. He counted Generals Turner Ashby and J. E. B. Stuart (whom he also served as an aide) as his friends. His Shepherdstown home, Fountain Rock, was burned to the ground in 1864 on orders of Union Gen. David Hunter, destroying several paintings by portrait artist Charles Willson Peale, Boteler’s ancestor.
After the war, Boteler returned to Shepherdstown and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1872 and 1874 as an independent. He was a federal appointee under Presidents Arthur and Cleveland. He was a founder of Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) and helped to bring the Shenandoah Valley Railroad (a predecessor to the Norfolk & Western, now the Norfolk Southern) through Shepherdstown.
Boteler was an artist and caricaturist of considerable ability and a witness to momentous times. He sketched the abolitionist John Brown after his capture at Harpers Ferry and interviewed Brown extensively. Boteler was an accomplished orator and maintained an interest in James Rumsey, the inventor of the steamboat. He produced a manuscript on Rumsey that he tried, unsuccessfully, to publish.
Last Revised on September 26, 2012
Adams, Charles S., ed. Alexander Boteler, Wheel Horse of Whiggery, Stonewall's Courier. Shepherdstown: Charles S. Adams, 1998.
Pendleton, Helen Boteler. Alexander Robinson Boteler - A Nineteenth Century Romantic. Shepherdstown Register, December 14, 1933; December 21, 1933; January 11, 1934; January 18, 1934; January 25, 1934; February 1, 1934; February 8, 1934; February 14,1934.
"Boteler Papers." Duke University.
Cite This Article
e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Alexander Robinson Boteler." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 26 September 2012. Web. 26 April 2017.