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Roger Atkinson Pryor

Someone on the Pryor-L list asked me about the man with the "biggest mouth in the South," Roger A. Pryor. He was quite a character and a thorn in the side of President Lincoln during the War of Yankee Aggression (1861-1865). 
But, first things first: Roger's line runs from Robert and Betty (Green) Pryor to Richard to Theodric to a blank in my notes to Roger, himself, born in 1828 in Virginia. He was a firebrand and an editor of a Virginia newspaper before the War. He expounded mightily for the South and urged mightily that the South take action against the north. He was elected to Congress where he orated fierce messages. 
It was Roger who wrote "A House divided against itself cannot long stand." President Lincoln appropriated this message for himself in one of his more famous speeches, but gave the credit to Roger. He used other ideas of Roger as well.
When the anger between the two geographic areas came to a head, and it was obvious that the South was going to fire on Ft. Sumpter, Roger was offered the opportunity to fire the first shot, but he declined to begin a war he championed for so long.
When the War was begun, Roger joined up as a General. After some time and battles, Roger asked for a larger command, but his request was refused. What did Roger do? He resigned his commission and joined up the next day as a private. The CSA made him into a kind of spy. 
The North tricked Roger and captured him. When President Lincoln heard about the capture he discussed it with his Cabinet. The Cabinet recommended an immediate hanging, but Lincoln was curious. He sent for Roger and spent a week with him, much to the irritation of the Cabinet. Then Lincoln got Roger to agree to make war no more and released him to go back to Richmond, VA to his home.
Soon the War was over and Roger and his family were greatly impoverished. He worked his way into New York where he studied law and selected a partner to set up a lucrative law practice. He sent for his family. After achieving some fame as a good lawyer, Roger was appointed to the NY State Supreme Court. There he stayed nearly until his death in 1919.
Roger's son Theodric, went to Princeton where he made the highest grades of any student before him except for Aaron Burr, many years previously. After graduation, the son, very unhappy, committed suicide.
Roger's wife, Sarah Agnes Rice Pryor, formed with, I think, fifteen other women, the DAR organization.

Note: Most of the facts above are from memory, and I will not swear to the complete accuracy of the smaller ones. This information is for the interest of Pryor List members, and will result in a magazine article eventually. Thus I would like to lay claim to its content until a better researched work in completed and foot notes are compiled.

There are some parallels between the lives of Roger Atkinson Pryor and William Samuel Pryor, both judges on State Supreme courts, which I will be happy to discuss later.

Tom Fiske


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Web Site owner is Pauline Phelps 
This site Designed & Maintained by Hummingbird  Design Studio 
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