The Library of Virginia
Portrait of Martin Meredith Lipscomb Martin Meredith Lipscomb (1823-1903) exemplified a new generation of political leaders who emerged after the Virginia Constitution of 1851 abolished property ownership as a prerequisite for voting. A bricklayer, Lipscomb ran for mayor of Richmond in 1853 and lost, but in 1854 he campaigned among the working classes and was elected city sergeant. Virginia's traditional political leaders were unnerved at the prospect of having working men invade the world of public service that had been reserved for gentlemen, but the achievements of Lipscomb and many others like him made Virginia's political culture more egalitarian and democratic. Lipscomb remained active in Richmond city politics until shortly before his death fifty years after his first run for public office, always taking the side of reformers and always upsetting established political apple carts.

Martin Meredith Lipscomb. Photograph. Courtesy of the Valentine Museum.

Related Resources

Virginia Cavalcade