It’s been nearly 150 years since Alexandria elected its last Republican mayor.
The year 1872 was big for Republicans. President Ulysses S. Grant won his second term in office, and it’s also the last time that Alexandria elected a Republican as mayor.
There have been only three Republican mayors elected in the city’s history, according to the Office of Historic Alexandria.
“Please keep in mind that before the Civil War, the majority of Alexandria’s mayors were either Federalists or Whigs,” City historian Daniel Lee told ALXnow.
Lewis McKenzie was the first Republican mayor of the city, performing as the acting mayor from 1861 to 1863 while the city was occupied by the Union. McKenzie later served as Congressman for Virginia’s 7th District. Charles A. Ware was the next Republican mayor, and served from 1863 to 1866.
Alexandria underwent a deep depression after the war ended. The city was filled by refugees and policed by an army garrison, and was governed under military rule from 1868 until 1870 — when Virginia was formally readmitted to the Union. While not a Republican, conservative Mayor Hugh Latham was removed from office (after serving two years) in 1868 along with all other municipal officers throughout the state as part of the federal Reconstruction Acts.
“Because of the orders, no municipal elections were held in Alexandria in March of 1868 or 1869; this was the first time in the city’s history that elections had been canceled,” the City notes. “Former Confederate soldiers and citizens who had voted for the Ordinance of Secession were disqualified from holding office. Indeed, candidates who aspired to public office were required to take an oath swearing allegiance to the United States and its Constitution.”
The last Republican elected mayor was William Berkley, who was installed by the military in 1868, and then was formally elected in 1872 before resigning that year to be the city’s postmaster.