Nathaniel Beverly Tucker, A Notable Alumnus (1820-1890)
    by Meredith Stanley, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Archaeology and American Studies, 2nd year)

Nathaniel Beverly Tucker (born June 8, 1820) was a first-year student at the University during the 1837-1838 session. Originally from Winchester, Virginia, he was from a family of prominence: his uncle (and namesake) was an author and judge, and his father and brother were both Congressmen. Tucker requested to matriculate the summer before but, along with several other students, faced difficulties when he failed to bring a certificate from his prior education or other “satisfactory evidence of good character.” However, he was able to enter the University in the schools of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Moral Philosophy.

Prior to his education at UVA, Tucker had attended Richmond Academy (of Richmond, Virginia), which opened its doors in October of 1835. Mr. Socrates Maupin, a University of Virginia alumnus himself, was elected as the principal of the new school in June of the opening year. A newspaper article from The Richmond Whig predicted its success, dependent upon its reputation: “Every father in the city, ought to feel a particular and individual interest in its welfare: and to promote that, should remember that the City, through the agency of its public opinion, more than the professors themselves, will controul its character.” Interestingly enough, it seems both the Academy and University at the time faced difficulties in taming the rowdy nature of its young male students. Beverly Tucker was no exception to the rambunctiousness. Throughout his year at the University, he was reprimanded by the faculty on several occasions, for instances such as: hosting a festival entertainment (eating party), intoxication at a student ball, and violating the “law regarding early rising.” His father was written to and he was suspended at one point during the year as punishment.

After his time at UVA, Tucker founded the Washington Sentinel in 1853. Later the same year, he was elected Printer of the United States Senate. As the Civil War approached, he joined the Confederacy and was sent to England and France as an economic agent while also involving himself in other questionably legitimate deal-making. A member of the Union’s “Wanted List” (he was tied to plans to assassinate Lincoln), he fled to Mexico until the end of the war. After changing his residence and traveling internationally for several years, Tucker finally returned to the United States. He died July 15, 1890.

Related Entries: Charles Ellis Jr.: Biography of a Student (1817-1900);

University of Virginia. Faculty Minutes. Vols. 4 and 5, Part 4.

The Richmond Whig. Vol. 12.55 (6 June 1835): 1.

Cite This Entry
Stanley, Meredith. "Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, A Notable Alumnus (1820-1890)." JUEL, June 18, 2015.

First published: June 18, 2015 | Last modified: July 1, 2018