If you are around Leesburg on May 23, here’s an event to consider:
Tour John Janney’s historic Cornwall Street home in Leesburg and learn about the situation in Loudoun during the spring of 1861 before Fort Sumter. The tour will be followed by a lecture from John Janney’s biographer, Dr. Anne Sarah Rubin of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Tour participants should meet in front of the courthouse.
The tour starts at 6:30 PM at the Loudoun County Courthouse (a couple of short blocks from the Janney house). More details on the Visit Loudoun website.
Janney was a staunch Whig of Quaker descent. In 1839, while serving as a Virginia delegate to the Whig presidential convention, he was nominated for the Vice-President slot on the ticket. Janney lost that nomination by one vote to fellow Virginian John Tyler. Janney had not, either deliberately or by mistake, voted for himself. When President William Henry Harrison died in office, Tyler became the 10th President. Thus Janney is indeed a man who could have been president, but for a single vote.
Janney remained a major political figure in Virginia politics through the 1850s despite the collapse of the Whig party. In 1861 Janney represented Loudoun at the state secession convention. Named the convention president, Janney retained a pro-union stance. Despite voting against secession, he did sign the convention’s secession ordnance. Later Janney, due to his position with the convention, officially passed command of Virginia state forces to Robert E. Lee.
After the war broke out, Janney returned to Leesburg and practiced law. Despite the conflict all around, Janney took no active role in the war. He died in 1872.