A tough new president at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va., is one of many changes and consequences of President Donald Trump’s election that the Baucom family, descended from an Army lieutenant who fought in the Civil War, fear. Don A. Baucom Jr., the grandson of General A.C. Baucom, and his family members often focus on “hope and progress” when thinking about the effects of Trump’s election. Yet the generational lessons of their story, they say, are not easy.
“The lessons of the Civil War are of great significance,” Baucom said. “I hope that I don’t wake up and see it all unravel. I hope that I wake up and see our country strong.”
Born and raised in Oakton, Va., Baucom played baseball in the Washington Metropolitan area and held several leadership positions within the local community, most recently as vice president of community impact at United Way. He served as an appointee on the Virginia Tech President Task Force on Community Divided We Stand, and is currently the treasurer for the Virginia Tech Alumni Council. Baucom is a graduate of Washington & Lee University, where he currently serves as secretary of the Board of Trustees. He completed a master’s degree in social work at Washington & Lee, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Columbia University and a master’s degree in public administration at George Washington University.
During the 2016 presidential election, the Baucom family received calls from their friends around the country asking about how a presidential election could change an entire country. Now, they face the question of what this election means to them. During the presidential campaign, Don Baucom himself said he kept “open” to the possibility of the election of a candidate like Donald Trump. “That would, of course, have been extremely sad for me, my family, my community and the nation as a whole,” he said.
Three generations of the Baucom family have traced their roots back to an ancestor who was born in 1837, in Moncks Corner, S.C. and fought in the Civil War. “My great-great-great-great-grandfather was Lt. A.C. Baucom, who was killed in April 1861.” After the war, his family lived in Queens, N.Y., where A.C.’s daughter married on April 19, 1865. She had three sons, but died only four years later in 1898.
Still, the family remains proud of their roots. “When you come back here, there is still such a well-researched sense of tradition. It is still so full of history,” Baucom said. “Even those who have come from other parts of the country can tell you stories about the Civil War. It’s like reading a history book.”
However, Baucom finds that this period of history is also complicated. “I have had people come up to me and talk about Trump, and talk about the division,” he said. “At the same time, people get very emotional about the Civil War. It is such a difficult thing for people to reconcile.”
With the new administration coming in, Baucom feels that the family can’t stand still. “I can’t sit still and do nothing,” he said. “We can’t just say, we’re sitting down, and wait for this to be over. We need to do something. We need to move. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it is just moving this discussion to a higher place.”