Date of Award

Summer 1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Harold Wilson

Committee Member

Peter C. Stewart

Committee Member

James W. Sweeny

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47B72


For over forty years, Francis "Frank" Gildart Ruffin derived his livelihood from slave labor and agricultural pursuits. Like Jefferson, Ruffin believed that the nation should be based on the industry of small farmers. Once the Civil War began, he served the Confederacy on the staff of the Commissary Department. Following the war, Ruffin actively engaged in politics in the Old Dominion, though he never sought office. He became associated with the "Readjuster" party in Virginia. Its goal was to readjust or reduce the state's debt, which was to be particularly beneficial to farmers. Ruffin was an original Readjuster, but later broke with the party believing that it had forsaken an agricultural emphasis in favor of big business and the black vote. As Virginia became industrial, Ruffin felt that the state would ultimately be ruined. He wrote political pamphlets and actively campaigned to return Virginia to her pre-war disposition. This did not occur, but Ruffin never stopped trying to return the Commonwealth to the traditions of his youth.


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