|Representative in the Virginia State House of Delegates|
|Commissioner to settle the boundary between Virginia and Kentucky|
|Judge of the General Court|
|Member of the Rockfish Gap Commission|
|Born||March 19, 1757|
|Near Staunton (Augusta County), Virginia|
|Died||July 11, 1832|
|Education||The College of William & Mary|
|Profession||lawyer, judge, politician, and soldier|
Archibald Stuart was born on March 19, 1757, near Staunton, Virginia, to Alexander Stuart and Mary Patterson. Not long after Stuart's birth, his parents moved from their Staunton farm to Rockbridge County. There, Stuart attended Liberty Hall Academy before going on to study law at the College of William & Mary in 1777. While studying law, Stuart was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society and served successively as its treasurer and vice president. In 1780 Stuart left William & Mary without a degree in order to serve as a private soldier in the battle of Guilford Courthouse and the Yorktown Campaign.
Following his military service, Stuart studied law with Thomas Jefferson. By 1782 Stuart was living in Rockbridge and had established himself as a practicing attorney in both Augusta and Rockbridge counties. In 1783 he was elected to the State House of Delegates from Botetourt County after being narrowly defeated in the Rockbridge election only a week prior. Later that same year, Stuart moved to Staunton. He was reelected in both 1784 and 1785 as Botetourt's delegate, and served as Augusta's delegate in 1786 and 1787. Stuart strongly identified with James Madison's reform party, and supported "religious freedom, the payment of British debts, the reform of the court system, and the attempts to increase the powers of the Confederation Congress." He also supported state constitutional reform, and joined the Constitutional Society in 1784.
Stuart championed the federal Constitution during the 1787 house session, and worked to raise support. He published Madison's Federalist essays, which Madison had forwarded to Stuart, and made public speeches in Botetourt to convince voters. In 1788 he was unanimously elected to represent Augusta in the convention, and in June he voted for the Constitution's ratification. After the ratification, Stuart retired from politics to practice law with John Marshall, his friend from college. In 1791 he married Eleanor Briscoe, with whom he had four children. Stuart bought a large Jefferson designed home in Staunton, and his law practice "prospered."
Even after returning to his legal practice, Stuart continued to act as Jefferson and Madison's political agent--"He denounced the assumption of state debts and the anti-Republican National Bank Bill and supported the pro-French policies of Jefferson and Madison." In 1792 Stuart was a presidential elector, and continued in that role for every presedential election through 1824. In 1795, he acted as a commissioner to settle the Virginia and Kentucky boundary.
Stuart served on the state senate from 1797 to 1800, and acted as Speaker in his last two months of service. In 1800 Stuart was appointed judge of the General Court and served as such until 1831. As of 1808, Stuart presided over the circuit including Bath, Rockbridge, Augusta, Amherst, Nelson, and Albemarle counties. He strongly opposed extending the vote to non-property owners as well as reforms in equalizing house representation. In the 1820's Stuart acted as a leader of Virginia's emerging Whig party. On July 11, 1832, Stuart passed away in Staunton, Virginia.
- American National Biography Online, s.v. "Stuart, Archibald," by Gaspare J. Saladino, accessed October 19, 2015.
- "Archibald Stuart," Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 2016), accessed February 18, 2016.
- This is likely based on a biography written by Stuart's son, which states, "Archibald Stuart spent the greater part of next two years in the study of law with Mr. Jefferson;" "Archibald Stuart" The Jefferson Monticello, accessed February 18, 2016.
- Saladino, "Stuart, Archibald."
- According to Gaspare Saladino, "by 1797 [Stuart] owned 2,764 acres of land in Augusta and twelve slaves, as compared to 440 acres and one slave in 1788;" Ibid.