Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Daniel Bedinger Lucas


West Virginia
[formerly Virginia]


Geo. W. Atkinson, Bench and Bar of West Virginia 36
(Charleston, West Virginia: Virginian Law Book Co., 1919)

Daniel Bedinger Lucas was born in 1836 at "Rion Hall" in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia). His parents were both from distinguished Virginia families. He studied at private academics and attended the University of Virginia where he graduated in 1856. He studied law at the school of Judge John W. Brockenbrough, at Lexington, Virginia (which was annexed to Washington and Lee in 1866) and graduated in 1859 but moved the next year to Richmond. He then returned to Charles Town and took up the practice of law.

Lucas's military service in the Civil War is described as follows by the archivist at Virginia Tech, where his papers are held:

At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 he joined the staff of General Henry A. Wise and took part in the Kanawha Valley campaign, but his physical disability from a childhood spine injury kept him from active service in the last years of the war. Toward the end of the war he ran the blockade to defend his friend John Yates Beall, accused of being a Confederate spy, but was unable to defend him against the charges. Beall was executed on Governors Island, New York.

Barred from the practice of law until 1871, Lucas turned to literature and became co-editor of the Baltimore Southern Metropolis. Many of his poems were published in this magazine. He reentered the practice of law in 1871 and took a prominent role in the Democratic party politics of West Virginia, acting as Democratic elector in the elections of 1872 and 1876, to the legislature in 1884 and 1886, and as a member of the supreme court of appeals from 1889 to 1893.

"Judge Lucas attained great distinction in his profession, because of his wonderful grasp of intricate legal questions and his eloquent and convincing oratory. Among the honors that came to him were his election to the State Legislature, and his appointment as judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of his State [West Virginia], of which he was president at the time of his death. On account of his extensive law practice, he declined to accept a position as professor of law in West Virginia University, and also an appointment as circuit judge in his district." [Source: Ella May Turner, Stories and Verse of West Virginia 133 (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Mennonite Publishing House, rev. ed. 1925)(1923)]

Lucas's sister, Virginia Bedinger Lucas, also a poet, was sometimes called the "Pastoral Poet of the Valley." Lucas was often referred to as the "poet of the Shenandoah Valley." Lucas is best remembered for the poem, "The Land Where We Were Dreaming." He died at Rion Hall on June 24, 1909.


Rion Hall
Family Home of Daniel Bedinger Lucas

Warren Wood, Representative Authors of West Virginia
(Ravenswood,West Virginia: Worth-While Book Company, 1926)

Harper's Weekly
March 12, 1887 — p. 183


Senator Camden, of West Virginia, who was the candidate of his party in the Legislature for re-election, was so vigorously opposed by a part of the Democratic members that the entire ses sion was consumed in a fruitless effort to elect him, or to make a combination by which some other candidate could be chosen. The opposi tion was mainly due to his alleged alliance with the railroad interests of the State and with the Standard Oil Company. One of his most vigorous and uncompromising opponents in the Legislature was Mr. Daniel Bedinger Lucas, of Charlestown, and immediately after the close of the session Lucas was appointed by Governor Wilson as Camden's successor.

Mr. Lucas was born at Charlestown in 1836, and was the son of William Lucas, a member of Congress in the days of Jackson . He was graduated at the University of Virginia, and was somewhat distinguished as a poet in college. When the University celebrated its semicentenary in 1875, he was the poet of the occasion. Some years ago he published a volume of poems entitled The Maid of Northumberland. After leaving college he studied law, but during the war he served as private secretary to Governor Wise . After the war he opened a law office at Charlestown with Thomas C. Green , now one of the judges of the Court of Appeals of West Virginia. He took an active part in politics, and in 1872 was a candidate for Presidential Elector on the Greeley ticket. He held the same position in 1876 and 1884, and voted for Tilden and Hendricks and for Cleveland and Hendricks. For ten years he has been a prominent opponent of the Standard Oil Company's influence in West Virginia politics, and more than once his effort to be elected to Congress has been defeated by it. Two years ago he and Senator Kenna met in the State Convention for the nomination of Governor as rival leaders in the party, and Lucas succeeded in securing the nomination of E. Willis Wilson, the present Governor. He was elected to the Legislature in 1884 and again in 1886, and there continued his fight against the Standard Oil Company and its representatives, including Senator Camden , whose re-election he was largely instrumental in defeating. Mr. Lucas in 1869 married the daughter of Henry L. Brooks, a prominent lawyer of Richmond. He has continued to take a lively interest in literature and learning, and is one of the Regents of the University of Virginia.


Geo. W. Atkins & Alvaro F. Gibbens, Prominent Men of West Virginia 576
(Wheeling: W.L. Callin, 1890)

Daniel Bedinger Lucas
short bio

Daniel B. Lucas

Daniel B. Lucas
Geo. W. Atkinson, Bench and Bar of West Virginia 36-38
(Charleston, West Virginia: Virginian Law Book Co., 1919)

Daniel Bedinger Lucas
Geo. W. Atkins & Alvaro F. Gibbens, Prominent Men of West Virginia 576-583
(Wheeling: W.L. Callin, 1890)


Fair were our nation's visions, and as grand
As ever floated out of fancy-land;
     Children we were in simple faith,
     But god-like children, whom nor death,
Nor threat of danger drove from honor's path—
     In the land where we were dreaming!

Proud were our men as pride of birth could render,
As violets our women pure and tender;
     And when they spoke, their voices thrill
     At evening hushed the whip-poor-will,
At morn the mocking bird was mute and still,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

And we had graves that covered more of glory,
Than ever taxed the lips of ancient story;
     And in our dreams we wove the thread
     Of principles for which had bled,
And suffered long our own immortal dead,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

Tho' in our land we had both bond and free,
Both were content, and so God let them be;
     Till Northern glances, slanting down,
     With envy viewed our harvest sun—
But little recked we, for we still slept on,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

Our sleep grew troubled; and our dreams grew wild;
Red meteors flashed across our heaven's field;
     Crimson the Moon; between the Twins
     Barbed arrows flew in circling lanes
Of light, red Comets tossed their fiery manes
     O'er the land where we were dreaming!

Down from her eagle height smiled Liberty,
And waved her hand in sign of victory;
     The world approved, and everywhere,
     Except where growled the Russian bear,
The brave, the good and just gave us their prayer,
     For the land where we were dreaming!

High o'er our heads a starry flag was seen,
Whose field was blanched, and spotless in its sheen;
     Chivalry's cross its union bears,
     And by his scars each vet'ran swears
To bear it on in triumph through the wars,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

We fondly thought a Government was ours—
We challenged place among the world's great powers;
     We talk'd in sleep of rank, commission,
     Until so life-like grew the vision,
That he who dared to doubt but met derision,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

A figure came among us as we slept—
At first he knelt, then slowly rose and wept;
     Then gathering up a thousand spears,
     He swept across the field of Mars,
Then bowed farewell and walked behind the stars,
     From the land where we were dreaming!

We looked again, another figure still
Gave hope, and nerved each individual will;
     Erect he stood, as clothed with power;
     Self-poised, he seemed to rule the hour,
With firm, majestic sway,—of strength a tower,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

As while great Jove, in bronze, a warder god,
Gazed eastward from the Forum where he stood,
     Rome felt herself secure and free,—
     So Richmond, we, on guard for thee,
Beheld a bronzed hero, god-like Lee,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

As wakes the soldier when the alarm calls,—
As wakes the mother when her infant falls,—
     As starts the traveler when around
     His sleepy couch the fire-bells sound,—
So woke our nation with a single bound—
     In the land where we were dreaming!

Woe! Woe! is us, the startled mothers cried,
While we have slept, our noble sons have died!
     Woe! Woe! is us, how strange and sad,
     That all our glorious visions fled,
Have left us nothing real but our dead,
     In the land where we were dreaming!And are they really dead, our martyred slain?
No, Dreamers! Morn shall bid them rise again,
     From every plain,—from every height,—
     On which they seemed to die for right,
Their gallant spirits shall renew the fight,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

Unconquered still in soul, tho' now o'er-run,
In peace, in war, the battle's just begun!
     Once this Thyestean banquet o'er,
     Grown strong the few who bide their hour,
Shall rise and hurl its drunken guests from power,
     In the land where we were dreaming!

[Source: Ella May Turner, Stories and Verse of West Virginia 133 (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Mennonite Publishing House, rev. ed. 1925)(1923)]


Daniel Bedinger Lucas, The Wreath of Eglantine, and Other Poems (Baltimore: Kelly, Piet & Company, 1869) [online text]

[Note: Virginia Bedinger Lucas, Daniel Bedinger Lucas's sister often published her poetry under the pen name, Eglantine. The collection of poetry which Lucas published in 1869 under the title The Wreath of Eglantine, and Other Poems also includes his sister's poetry.]

_________________, The Maid of Northumberland: A Dramatic Poem (New York: G.P. Putman's Sons, 1879)(a verse play based on the Civil War) [online text]

_________________, Ballads and Madrigals (New York: Pollard & Moss, 1884)

_________________, The Land Where We Were Dreaming (Boston: Roger G. Badger/Gorham Press, 1913) [online text]

____________________, Dramatic Works of Daniel Bedinger Lucas (Boston: R. G. Badger, University of Virginia, 1913)(Charles W. Kent and Virginia Lucas eds.)(C. F. Tucker Brooke intro.) [online text]


Daniel Bedinger Lucas, The Ethics of Nations (Charlottesville, Virginia: James Alexander printer, 1856)("An address delivered before the Jefferson Society, in the public hall, of the University of Virginia, on the 28th, June 1855)

_________________, Memoir of John Yates Beal: His Life; Trial; Correspondence; Diary; and Private Manuscript Found among His Papers, including his own account of the raid on Lake Erie (Montreal: J. Lovell, 1865)

_________________, The Memoir of John Yates Beall: His Life; Trial; Correspondence; Diary; and Private Manuscript Found Among His Papers, Including His Own Account of the Raid on Lake Erie (Montreal: Printed by J. Lovell, 1865)

Daniel Bedinger Lucas and J. Fairfax McLaughlin, Fisher Ames, Henry Clay, etc. (New York: C.L. Webster, 1891)

Daniel Bedinger Lucas, Nicaragua: War of the Filibusters (Richmond: B. F. Johnson Publishing Co., 1896) [online text] (Conway, New Hampshire: Tienda El Quetzal, 1986)

Research Resources

Daniel Bedinger Lucas Papers
Special Collections Department, University Libraries, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia

Lucas Family Papers
Daniel Bedinger Lucas Photograph
Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, Virginia

History of Washington and Lee School of Law

President Lincoln and the Case of John Yates Beall

Johy Yates Beall, Trial of John Y. Beall, as a spy and a guerrillero, by Military commission (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1865)
[online text]