February 9, 1843: Politician Nathan Goff Jr. Born in Clarksburg

Nathan Goff Jr.

Politician Nathan Goff Jr. was born in Clarksburg on February 9, 1843. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, rising from a private to brevet brigadier general. In 1864, he was captured at Moorefield and sent to Richmond’s notorious Libby Prison. He was released in a prisoner exchange personally authorized by President Lincoln.

After the war, Goff served in the state legislature, as a U.S. district attorney for West Virginia, briefly as U.S. secretary of the navy, and as a congressman. In 1888, he and Democrat A. B. Fleming were deadlocked in the most bizarre gubernatorial election in state history.

In the initial tally, Goff won by 106 votes, but after more than a year of legal delays, Goff lost his bid for governor. He finished his political career with a term in the U.S. Senate from 1913 until 1919.

Despite his illustrious career as a government official, his most important contribution may have been as a political boss. Nathan Goff helped chart the West Virginia Republican Party’s course from the 1870s until the turn of the century. He died in 1920 at age 77.