On the other hand, a local newspaper editor printed two reports on speeches Watson gave that spring and complimented his ability and good sense. Watson had become relatively well known among the county's freedpeople by then. In April 1867 he and three other men "mounted on fiery steeds, their white sashes flying, and batons in hand" led a thousand freedpeople through the streets of Boydton. The reference to sashes and batons suggests his leadership in a fraternal organization. Watson also had a prominent role in a biracial political conference in the county the following month, and on July 26, 1867, he was one of four men elected as delegates to represent Mecklenburg County at the Republican State Convention in August.
On October 22, 1867, in the first election in which African Americans voted in Virginia, Watson and Sanford M. Dodge won election as the two delegates from Mecklenburg County to the convention called to write a new constitution for Virginia. Watson received 2,557 votes of African American men and 1 of a white man. Dodge received 17 fewer votes and their closest competitor received only 869 votes. The commanding general of the First Military District, John M. Schofield, described Watson as an illiterate but intelligent shoemaker and a good orator whose local popularity carried Dodge, a white candidate, into office with him.
April 1867 - John Watson and three other men lead what is probably a black fraternal organization through the streets of Boydton.
July 26, 1867 - John Watson is elected a delegate to represent Mecklenburg County at the Republican State Convention.
October 22, 1867 - John Watson is elected to represent Mecklenburg County at the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868.
December 3, 1867–April 17, 1868 - Edward Nelson represents Mecklenburg County at the constitutional convention.
December 26, 1868 - John Watson and other trustees of a Freedmen's School in Boydton buy a small tract of land.
May 3, 1869 - Joseph R. Holmes is shot and killed when seeking an arrest warrant against the man who had once enslaved him and who reportedly threatened to kill him.
July 1869 - John Watson and Sanford M. Dodge win election to the House of Delegates from Mecklenburg County.
August 1869 - Charges against John Watson for inciting violence after the killing of Joseph R. Holmes are dropped.
December 6, 1869 - John Watson dies in a Richmond hotel. He is buried near Boydton, in Mecklenburg County.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Tarter, B., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. John Watson (d. December 6, 1869). (2019, January 17). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/John_Watson_d_December_6_1869.
- MLA Citation:
Tarter, Brent and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "John Watson (d. December 6, 1869)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 17 Jan. 2019. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: September 12, 2018 | Last modified: January 17, 2019