Enlisted in 12th Virginia Cavalry during Civil War, 1861. Served in Shenandoah Valley, 1861-1863. Later fought with J. E. B. Stuart and was with Lee at Appomattox.
Assistant professor ancient langs. Columbian College, 1865-1871. Law partner with cousin George W. Baylor, 1871-1882.
President West Virginia University, 1882. Member United States House of Representatives (Democrat) from West Virginia, 48th-53d congresses, 1883-1895, continually fought for downward revision of tariff. Permanent chairman National Democratic Convention, 1892.
United States postmaster general under President Cleveland, 1895-1897, began rural free delivery and enlarged classified list of civil service. President Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, 1896-1900.