"Most Virginians are familiar with the contributions of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to their state during the Civil War, but only a few know very much about politicians ike Edmund Ruffin and Henry Wise who led the state out of the Union and into the Confederacy. And almost nobody has heard of John B. Baldwin. He deserves a kinder fate.
Baldwin was a lawyer, a Valley Whig, a member of the General Assembly, a champion of railroads and public schools, and a dogged opponent of secession. He voted against it in 1861, but served briefly in the Confederate Army, and for the most of the war in the Confederate Congress. There, he put his devotion to civil liberties above his determination to win the war.
Back in the legislature, his opposition to Congressional Reconstruction unnecessarily delayed the state's return to the Union. Still, author John Hildebrand has it right; John B. Baldwin was "a giant among Virginia's political leaders during the most turbulent period in [its] history." At last he has the biography he deserves." -- D. Holt Merchant, Washington & Lee University