Born in Amelia County, Virginia, WILLIAM BRANCH GILES was educated at Hampden-Sydney College and Princeton University and studied law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. He practiced law in Petersburg, Virginia for five years, after which he was elected as an Anti-Federalist to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives. He went on to serve from 1790 to 1798 and again from 1801 to 1803, at which point he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. He went on to be reelected to the Senate, serving in all from 1804 to 1815. He retired to private life but returned to politics, first as an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the U.S. Senate and then as a successful candidate for the Virginia legislature. From that position, he assumed the office of governor after John Tyler Jr. resigned. He was then elected by the state legislature to two one-year terms as governor in his own right. Giles died nine months after leaving office.
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