U.S. and Confederate Congressman Alexander Boteler died on May 8, 1892, shortly before his 77th birthday. Before launching his political career, Boteler was a farmer and the owner of a hydraulic cement plant on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown. He entered the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig in 1859. That same year, he interviewed John Brown extensively after Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. A skilled artist, Boteler also made a sketch of the imprisoned abolitionist.
Boteler was a slave owner who hoped to preserve the institution of slavery while still keeping Virginia in the Union. However, after Virginia seceded from the United States at the start of the Civil War, he backed his home state and served in the Confederate Congress. Boteler designed the official seal of the Confederate States of America, featuring a likeness of George Washington. He also served as a volunteer aide to “Stonewall” Jackson. In retaliation for his service to the South, Union General David Hunter burned down Boteler’s home in Shepherdstown in 1864.
After the war, Alexander Boteler helped found Shepherd College and lost two races for the U.S. Congress.