1908, December 9: The Richmond Bar Association heard a powerful depiction of Reconstruction and its ills, in a speech by a Virginian who epitomized lyrical “Old Dominion” themes: a war veteran who lost a leg near Bloody Angle in the Battle of Spottsylvania Court House, a University of Virginia man, now a respected elder of the bench in Richmond:
“The scenes of the days of reconstruction in Richmond from 1865 to 1870 are beyond the power of my feeble pen to describe. It is enough to say that, with the military commanders, the Freedmen’s Bureau, the ignorant and, ofttimes vicious and corrupt judges presiding in the courts, life, liberty and property were completely at the mercy of the lawless and vicious.”
From an address to the Richmond Bar Association in 1908 by Judge George L. Christian, published as “Reminiscences of Some of the Dead of the Bench and Bar of Richmond,” The Virginia Law Register, Vol. 14, No. 9 (Jan., 1909), pp. 657-675. accessed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1102644
Who was George Christian?
Christian, George Llewellyn, born April 13, 1841, in Charles City county, Virginia, son of Edmund Thomas Christian and Tabitha Rebecca Graves, his wife. His father’s ancestor, Thomas Christian, settled in Charles City county, Virginia, in 1687, having come from a distinguished family in the Isle of Man His grandfather was Turner Christian, who was a brother of Henry Christian, who was a captain in the revolutionary war. On his mother’s side his ancestors were also English. His early education was obtained at private schools, and in the Northwood and Taylorsville Academies of Charles City county. In 1861, when twenty years of age, he enlisted in the Confederate army as a private in the Second Company of the Richmond Howitzers, with which he served until May 12, 1864, when he was desperately wounded (near the Bloody Angle) at SpottLylvania Court House. At that time he was a sergeant of the company. He lost one leg and a part of the other foot, and as the result of these wounds was incapacitated for further service in the field, and he entered the University of Virginia, in 1864, where he remained one session. Upon leaving the university, having lost everything by the war, he entered the clerk’s office of the circuit court of the city of Richmond, and in 1870 began the practice of his profession. From 1872 until 1878 he was clerk of the court of appeals, and from 1878 to 1883 was judge of the hustings court of the city of Richmond. He has been president of the Richmond City Chamber of Commerce, of the city council of Richmond, of the City Bar Association, of the National Bank of Virginia, of which he is now president, and cf the Virginia State Insurance Company. Judge Christian is a member of the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of Virginia, and has made many contributions to the literature of the war for southern independence. His “Report on the Conduct of the War,” October 11, 1900, is a splendid tribute tc the humanity of the south. His address on John Tyler and Abraham Lincoln, the “Capitol Disaster,” and his “Confederate Experiences” are written with remarkable mastery of the pen. He is a member of the City and State Bar associations, and other social organizations. In politics he is a Democrat….