JAMES WOOD was born in Frederick County, Virginia. He was vestryman and clerk of the vestry of Frederick Parish until he was called to military service, rising in rank from Captain to Brigadier General. Among his responsibilities was to command the post of General John Burgoyne's imprisoned army quartered in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was also appointed superintendent of all prisoners of war in Virginia. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1775. He served as a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1776 and was elected to the Virginia Council in 1784 to succeed John Marshall. He was then elected by the state legislature to serve as governor for three one-year terms, during which time the Virginia Penitentiary was constructed. He was an active member of the Virginia Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and served as its vice president in 1797 and its president in 1801. He also served as vice president and president of the Society of the Cincinnati.
Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor, Executive Papers (1796-1799: Wood). Accession 40844. Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols
Salmon, Emily and Edward D. C. Campbell, Jr. Hornbook of Virginia History. 4th ed. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1994.
Smith, Margaret Vowell. Virginia, 1492-1892: A History of the Executives. Washington, D.C.: W. H. Lowdermilk & Co., 1893.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 5. New York: James T. White & Company.