William Byrd II

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William Byrd, II (1674-1744), was a wealthy planter and official in colonial Virginia. He was born in the colony to the powerful Byrd clan. He brought French Huguenots to Manakin. As a leader of the house of burgesses and council of state, he defended the council's judicial power against Governor Alexander Spotswood. Byrd published several important books that explained Virginia society, including The History of the Dividing Line, and Progress to the Mines, but shared his most intimate thoughts only with his coded "Secret Diaries," which historians have decoded, published, and mined for its remarkable riches.

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