William Cabell Rives
|Member of the Confederate Congress from Virginia's 7th district|
May 2, 1864 – March 2, 1865
|Preceded by||James Philemon Holcombe|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Delegate from Virginia to the Provisional Confederate Congress|
February 4, 1861 – February 17, 1862
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|United States Minister to France|
|Appointed by||Zachary Taylor|
|Preceded by||Richard Rush|
|Succeeded by||John Y. Mason|
|Appointed by||Andrew Jackson|
|Preceded by||James Brown|
|Succeeded by||Levett Harris|
|United States Senator|
January 18, 1841 – March 3, 1845
|Succeeded by||Isaac S. Pennybacker|
March 4, 1836 – March 3, 1839
|Preceded by||John Tyler, Jr.|
December 10, 1832 – February 22, 1834
|Preceded by||Littleton W. Tazewell|
|Succeeded by||Benjamin W. Leigh|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Virginia's 10th district
March 4, 1823 – 1829
|Preceded by||Thomas L. Moore|
|Succeeded by||William F. Gordon|
|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Albemarle County|
Alongside William F. Gordon
|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Nelson County|
Alongside Thomas McCleland, John Cobbs and Joseph Shelton
|Born||May 4, 1793|
Amherst County, Virginia
|Died||April 25, 1868 (aged 74)|
William Cabell Rives (May 4, 1793 – April 25, 1868) was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate. He served two terms as U.S. Minister to France. As minister during the Andrew Jackson administration, he negotiated a treaty whereby the French agreed to pay the U.S. for spoliation claims from the Napoleonic Wars. During the American Civil War, Rives served as a Delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress and as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives.
Rives was born at "Union Hill", the estate of his grandfather, Col. William Cabell, in Amherst County, Virginia. It was located on the James River in what is now Nelson County. His parents were Robert (1764–1845) and Margaret Cabell (c. 1770–1815) Rives, and his brothers included Alexander Rives. He was a great-uncle of Alexander Brown, author of books on the early history of Virginia and a family history, The Cabells and their Kin.
He left Williamsburg to study law with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, and in 1814 was admitted to the bar at Richmond. Rives began his law practice in Nelson County, but after marrying Judith Page Walker (1802–1882), the daughter of Francis Walker, in 1819, he moved to her estate Castle Hill, near Cobham in Albemarle County. This was his home for the remainder of his life.
Rives's political career began by serving in the state constitutional convention of 1816. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1817–19 for Nelson County, and again in 1822 for Albemarle County. In 1823 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served from 1823 to 1829. In 1829 he was appointed by Andrew Jackson as Minister to France.
When Rives took office, compensation demands for the capture of American ships and sailors, dating from the Napoleonic era, caused strained relations between the American and French governments. The French Navy had captured and sent American ships to Spanish ports while holding their crews captive forcing them to labor without any charges or judicial rules. According to Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, relations between the U.S. and France were "hopeless." Yet, Rives was able to convince the French government to sign a reparations treaty on July 4, 1831, that would award the U.S. ₣ 25,000,000 ($5,000,000) in damages. The French government became delinquent in payment due to internal financial and political difficulties, but after firm insistence from the United States, payments were finally made in February 1836.
Rives was presented as a candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1835, but the nomination went to Richard M. Johnson, in spite of having been presidential nominee Martin Van Buren's preferred candidate.
On his return from France, Rives was elected to the United States Senate. He would serve three terms, the last as a member of the Whig Party. He served on the Board of Visitors for the University of Virginia from 1834 to 1849, and was for many years the president of the Virginia Historical Society. In 1849, Rives was once more appointed Minister to France. He served until 1853. In 1860, he endorsed the call for a Constitutional Union Party Convention, where he received most of Virginia's first ballot votes for President.
Rives was a delegate to the February 1861 Peace Conference in Washington, which sought to prevent the American Civil War. He spoke out against secession but was loyal to Virginia when it seceded. He served in the Provisional Confederate Congress from 1861 to 1862 and the Second Confederate Congress from 1864 to 1865.
Rives wrote several books, the most important being his Life and Times of James Madison (3 vols., Boston, 1859–68). He died at Castle Hill in 1868 and was buried in the family cemetery.
His second son William Cabell Rives, Jr., (1825–1890) owned Cobham Park Estate. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. His son, also William Cabell Rives (1850-1938) donated the Peace Cross and supported building the Washington National Cathedral.
- Brown, Alexander (1939). The Cabells and Their Kin. Richmond: Garrett and Massie.
- Latner 2002, pp. 119–20.
- Cunningham, Hugo S. (1999). "Gold and Silver Standards France". Archived from the original on August 18, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- CVirginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (December 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Cobham Park" (PDF).
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- inscription to the right of the Great Choir.
- Kenny, Hamill (1945). West Virginia Place Names: Their Origin and Meaning, Including the Nomenclature of the Streams and Mountains. Piedmont, WV: The Place Name Press. p. 533.
William Cabell Rives: A Country to Serve by Barclay Rives. New York, Atelerix Press, 2014
- Latner, Richard B. (2002). "Andrew Jackson". In Graff, Henry (ed.). The Presidents: A Reference History (7th ed.).
- William Cabell Rives: A Country to Serve by Barclay Rives. New York, Atelerix Press, 2014.A Country to Serve
- United States Congress. "William Cabell Rives (id: R000285)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- William Cabell Rives at Find a Grave
- McCoy, Drew R. The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 323–369.