He served as a United States Representative in the 48th, 49th, and 50th United States Congresses. He died August 21, 1915. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar and opened a practice.
He became prosecuting attorney of Kanawha County and served from 1876 to 1884.
He served as a judge on the criminal court of Kanawha County from 1890 to 1896. He was named United States consul to Ciudad Porfirio Diaz, Mexico from 1897 to 1901.
He died in Vineland, New Jersey in Cumberland County on August 21, 1915 and was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Charleston, West Virginia. His great-great-granddaughter is actress Elizabeth McGovern.