James Pleasants Jr.
22nd Governor of Virginia
In office
December 1, 1822 – December 10, 1825
Preceded byThomas M. Randolph, Jr.
Succeeded byJohn Tyler, Jr.
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
December 14, 1819 – December 15, 1822
Preceded byJohn W. Eppes
Succeeded byJohn Taylor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 17th district
In office
March 4, 1813 – December 14, 1819
Preceded byThomas Gholson, Jr.
Succeeded byWilliam S. Archer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th district
In office
March 4, 1811 – March 3, 1813
Preceded byJohn W. Eppes
Succeeded byJohn W. Eppes
7th Clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates
In office
December 6, 1802 – March 4, 1811
Preceded byWilliam Wirt
Succeeded byWilliam Munford
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Goochland County
In office
December 1797 – December 6, 1802
Preceded byJohn Guerrant Jr.
Succeeded byJames Carter
Personal details
Born(1769-10-24)October 24, 1769
Cold Comfort, Goochland County (now Powhatan County), Colony of Virginia, British America
DiedNovember 9, 1836(1836-11-09) (aged 67)
Contention, Goochland County, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
SpouseSusanna Lawson Rose
ChildrenJohn Hampden Pleasants
Alma materCollege of William and Mary
ProfessionLawyer, politician

James Pleasants Jr. (October 24, 1769 – November 9, 1836)[1] was an American politician who served in the U.S. Senate from 1819 to 1822 and was the 22nd Governor of Virginia from 1822 to 1825.


Pleasants was born at "Cold Comfort," in Goochland County (later separated as Powhatan County) in the Colony of Virginia on October 24, 1769. He pursued classical studies and graduated from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and commenced practice in Amelia County, Virginia in 1791.

Pleasants was the son of James Pleasants and Ann Randolph, the daughter of Isham Randolph of Dungeness and granddaughter of William Randolph.[2] His sister was Susan.[2]

Pleasants was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates 1797–1802 and clerk of the house of delegates 1803–1811. On January 30, 1811, he was appointed to the Court of Appeals but resigned almost immediately. Pleasants was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Twelfth and the four succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1811, to December 14, 1819, when he resigned, having been elected a United States Senator. Pleasants served as chairman of the Committee on Public Expenditures (Thirteenth Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy (Fifteenth Congress).

He was elected on December 10, 1819, as a Democrat-Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John W. Eppes and served from December 14, 1819, to December 15, 1822, when he resigned. He was chair of the Naval Affairs Committee (Sixteenth and Seventeenth Congresses). He was chosen as Governor of Virginia, serving 1822–1825. Pleasants was a delegate to the State constitutional conventions in 1829 and 1830. He retired and lived on his estate, "Contention," near Goochland, Goochland County, Virginia, where he died on November 9, 1836. He was buried on his estate. His brother-in-law and law partner, Eugene C. Massie, named his son James Pleasants Massie after Pleasants. The name has been handed down now to a total of four generations.

His son John Hampden Pleasants (1797–1846) founded the Richmond Whig newspaper, married twice, and later died in a duel with Thomas Ritchie, Jr.[3]

Pleasants is the namesake of a residence hall at William and Mary.[4] Pleasants County, West Virginia, was named after him in 1851.


  1. ^ Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, ed. (1915). "Governors of the State". Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. Vol. II. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 49.
  2. ^ a b Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 263–264.
  3. ^ "A Guide to the Pleasants family Papers, 1745–1898 Pleasants family Papers, 1745–1898". virginia.edu. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  4. ^ "William & Mary – Giles, Pleasants & Preston Halls". Wm.edu. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byJohn W. Eppes Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 16th congressional district March 4, 1811 – March 4, 1813 Succeeded byJohn W. Eppes Preceded byThomas Gholson, Jr. Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 17th congressional district March 4, 1813 – December 14, 1819 Succeeded byWilliam S. Archer U.S. Senate Preceded byJohn W. Eppes U.S. senator (Class 2) from Virginia December 14, 1819 – December 15, 1822 Served alongside: James Barbour Succeeded byJohn Taylor Political offices Preceded byThomas M. Randolph Governor of Virginia December 1, 1822 – December 10, 1825 Succeeded byJohn Tyler, Jr.