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John Beckley

John James Beckley (August 4, 1757-April 8, 1807) was born the son of obscure English parents. He was sent to Virginia in 1769 as an indentured servant. Using his remarkable skills as a scribe and the opportunities presented by the American Revolution, Beckley moved from general clerical assistant to his master, John Clayton, to become a lawyer. In 1789, he became the first clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and first Librarian of Congress in 1802. While Congress met in New York, Beckley met Maria Prince, whom he married in 1790. A political ally of Thomas Jefferson, Beckley wrote many supportive essays, pamphlets, and a Jefferson campaign biography in 1800. Beckley sought to make his fortune in land speculation, and among other properties he acquired a large acreage in what is now Raleigh County, where his only surviving child, Alfred, established the town of Beckley.

Written by Gerard W. Gawalt