William Alexander Harris (Virginia)

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William Alexander Harris
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th district
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843
Preceded byGreen B. Samuels
Succeeded byDistrict eliminated
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
In office
Personal details
Born(1805-08-24)August 24, 1805
Fauquier County, Virginia
DiedMarch 28, 1864(1864-03-28) (aged 58)
Pike County, Missouri
Resting placeRiverview Cemetery, Louisiana, Missouri
Political partyDemocratic
Professionlawyer, newsman

William Alexander Harris (August 24, 1805 – March 28, 1864) was a U.S. Representative from Virginia, father of William A. Harris.

Early life and politics[edit]

Born near Warrenton, Virginia, Harris completed an academic course which included the study of law. He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in the 1820s in Luray, Virginia. A delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates from 1830–1831, Harris could be considered one of the founders of Page County, Virginia, having secured the passage of the bill. As the first Clerk of the Court of Page County, beginning 23 May 1831, and attorney for the Commonwealth, Harris was also appointed as one of the commissioners to oversee the construction of the county offices. In September, 1837, the elder Harris continued in his multi-faceted roles and was responsible for donations for the opening of a road east through the Blue Ridge at Milam's Gap. In 1840, Harris held the distinguished position as Presidential elector on the Van Buren-Johnson ticket.

Harris resigned his position as Clerk of the Court following his election as a Democrat to the Twenty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843).

Connections with the Luray Cave[edit]

Harris may have been one of the fifteen original men to have thoroughly explored the Luray Cave in 1825. An article that he wrote about the cave was printed in the Shenandoah Herald in 1825, and may have been the first to ever appear describing the site.

Later life[edit]

Before his retiring to private life the elder Harris held a host of other positions including editor of the Spectator and The Constitution in Washington, D.C., and also chargé d'affaires to the Argentine Republic from 1846-1851. He moved to Pike County, Missouri and later returned to Washington, D.C. as editor of the Washington Union and printer to the United States Senate, 1857-1859. He died in Pike County, Missouri, March 28, 1864 and was interred in Riverview Cemetery, Louisiana, Missouri.



  • United States Congress. "William Alexander Harris (id: H000257)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Moore, Robert H. II, Short Historical Sketches of Page County, Virginia and Its People, Volume 2 ("The Harris family in Page County"); Heritage Books, Inc., 2005, pp. 193–194.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Green B. Samuels
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th congressional district

Succeeded by
District eliminated