Nathaniel Beverley Tucker MD

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Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, MD

Also Known As: "Fire Eater"
Birthplace: Roanoke, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Winchester, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Bruton Parish Cemetery, Wiliamsburg, Virginia, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of St. George Tucker and Frances Randolph Tucker
Husband of Mary Tucker; Eliza Tucker and Lucy Anne Tucker
Father of John Randolph Tucker; John St. Michael Tucker; Frances Tucker; Cynthia Beverley Tucker; Lucy Beverley Tucker and 4 others
Brother of Judge Henry St. George Tucker; Anne Frances Bland Tucker; Theodorick Thomas Tudor Tucker; Elizabeth Tucker and Hennrietta Eliza Tucker
Half brother of Charles Skipwith; Mary "Polly" Skipwith; James Richard Randolph; Richard Randolph; Theodoric Bland Randolph and 4 others

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About Nathaniel Beverley Tucker MD

Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (September 6, 1784 - August 26, 1851) was an American author, judge, legal scholar, and political essayist. From the 1830s onward he was a "Fire-Eater".

CLife and Politics

Tucker was generally known by his middle name. He was born into a socially elite and politically influential Virginia family: his father was the noted legal scholar St. George Tucker, and his half-brother was the famous John Randolph of Roanoke. Tucker's older brother Henry St. George Tucker, Sr., too, went on to have an eminent career as a law professor and Congressman in antebellum Virginia.

He graduated from William and Mary College in 1801, studied law, and practised in Virginia. After moving with his family to the Missouri territory in 1816, Tucker served as a circuit court judge from 1817 until 1832. He returned to Virginia in 1833 and served as a Professor of Law at William and Mary, his alma mater (Class of 1802), from 1834 to his death in 1851.

Tucker opposed the nullification movement in South Carolina, but maintained that individual states had the right to secede from the Union. From the 1830s onward he was a Fire-Eater and a leading academic spokesman for states' rights and Southern unity. He wrote frequently for the Southern Literary Messenger and other periodicals, and carried on an extensive correspondence with influential Southern political leaders, including President John Tyler, Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, and South Carolina Governor James Henry Hammond.

He died in Winchester, Virginia, at the age of 66 years.


Tucker is probably best remembered for his 1836 novel The Partisan Leader. Set in the United States of 1849, the story depicts a war between secessionist guerrillas in Virginia and a despotic federal government led by President-turned-dictator Martin Van Buren. In Tucker's future, the slaveholding states south of Virginia have already seceded, driven out of the Union by Van Buren's centralizing government and exploitative tariff policy. While the Old Dominion itself remains under federal control, the plot of The Partisan Leader concerns the efforts of patriotic Virginian irregulars to defeat government forces and join the independent Southern Confederacy.

At the onset of the American Civil War, the novel was regarded by many in the North and South as a prophetic vision of the collapse of the Union. It was republished in 1861 in New York with the subtitle "A Key to the Southern Conspiracy"; a Richmond edition of 1862 is subtitled "A Novel, and an Apocalypse of the Origin and Struggles of the Southern Confederacy."

Tucker was also the author of George Balcombe, also published in 1836, which Edgar Allan Poe called "the best American novel." In 1844-1845, Tucker's third and final novel, Gertrude, was serialized in the Southern Literary Messenger.


Besides the works already mentioned, he wrote:

Discourse on the Importance of the Study of Political Science as a Branch of Academic Education in the United States (Richmond, 1840)

Discourse on the Dangers that threaten the Free Institutions of the United States (1841)

Lectures intended to Prepare the Student for the Study of the Constitution of the United States (Philadelphia, 1845)

Principles of Pleading (Boston, 1846).

He left an unfinished life of his half-brother, John Randolph of Roanoke. He wrote a great number of political and miscellaneous essays, and was a large contributor to The Southern Literary Messenger of Richmond, Virginia, and to the Southern Quarterly Review. He also maintained an extensive correspondence with scholars and politicians.

-------------------- Born in Roanoke, VA, in 1784. Moved from Roanoke to Missouri in 1816, where he became judge of a Circuit Court. Lived in several places in MO, the last being in Saline County. Returned to VA in June 1833. Appointed professor of law at William & Mary College in July 1834. Moved into Tucker House in Williamsburg, VA, in November 1837, upon death of Lelia Skipworth Tucker (second wife of St. George Tucker). Died in Winchester, VA in 1851 while wife Lucy Smith Tucker and 5 children were visiting in MO. Cynthia (oldest daughter of Nathaniel and Lucy) was with Nathaniel at time of his death. There may have been a child born after Elizabeth, as family notes say that 5 children were in MO with Lucy at time of N. B. Tucker's death.

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Nathaniel Beverley Tucker MD's Timeline

September 6, 1784
Roanoke, Virginia, United States
February 9, 1809
Age 24
Roanoke, Virginia
Age 38
October 11, 1828
Age 44
Missouri, United States
April 13, 1830
Age 45
Missouri, United States
January 18, 1832
Age 47
December 26, 1835
Age 51
Age 54
Lynchburg, Virginia, USA
August 23, 1841
Age 56
December 18, 1843
Age 59