C. Bascom Slemp
1870 - 1943


C. Bascom Slemp spent a lifetime of service to Southwest Virginia and the nation. Born in 1870 in Lee County, Slemp began his service as a page in the House of Delegates in Richmond. This experience greatly interested Slemp and lead him to become a scholar of politics and history.

C. Bascom Slemp graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and began his law career at the University of Virginia (UVA), passing the bar in 1901. Slemp then practiced law in Big Stone Gap. In 1907, Slemp's father passed away and the younger Slemp was voted unanimously to fill his father's seat as Ninth District Congressman. C. Bascom Slemp was then voted to seven consecutive terms as Ninth District Congressman. After Congress, Slemp served as Private Secretary to President Calvin Coolidge from 1923—1925. Slemp developed a lifelong friendship with Coolidge as well as befriended Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1926, Slemp published The Mind of the President, which contained President Calvin Coolidge's views on public policies and questions. In the book, Slemp gives this view: "The presidency is a test of character as well as a test of wisdom. In reading this book, the reader will miss half its significance if he does not weight the President's word for what they tell of his character as well as for what they tell of his mind."

In 1938, Selected Addresses of C. Bascom Slemp was published. In this book, the reader will find many initiatives referred to in Slemp's addresses. These include: minimum wages for women, loans to farmers, the establishment of the Appalachian National Park on High Knob in Southwest Virginia, and many others. Today, many of these issues have become standard practices and laws.

In his third book, Slemp pursues one of his greatest interests, preserving the area’s history. Addresses of Famous Southwest Virginians, published in 1939, chronicles much of the region’s political and social development. Slemp comments in the forword: "It will be seen from these addresses that citizens of Southwest Virginia have taken a worthy and commendable part in the great movements and issues that have affected our state and national life." Perhaps, Slemp’s comment could apply as much to himself as it did to the book.


The Southwest Virginia Museum is a member of the American
Association of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Virginia Association of Museums.


C. Bascom Slemp