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William Axton Stokes (1814 – 1877) was a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attorney who contributed notes and references to an American edition of Mathew Hale's (1609–1676) Historia placitorum coronae (History of the pleas of the crown) published by R. H. Small of Philadelphia in 1847.

Stokes later served as a major in the U.S. Infantry during the American Civil War, including a period in 1861 commanding at the 18th U.S. Infantry Headquarters, Camp Thomas, Franklin County, Ohio.[1]

His stirring speech, at the Union Convention of Westmoreland County, PA in 1861, was delivered in support of the united American Republic and in favor of the war to crush rebellion. He denies the rebel cause by systematically positing that the rebel states have no right of secession, no grounds for revolution, and no justifiable argument against Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency.[2]

In 1874, Stokes was part of a committee appointed to report upon the operations of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.[3]

The Special Collections at Villanova University contains some of Stokes’s personal papers as well as other donations of the Stokes family to the university. A small collection of Stokes documents can also be found in the Special Collections Department at the University of Delaware Library.


  1. “William Axton Stokes Papers.” University of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department.
  2. Speech of Maj. Wm. A. Stokes, U.S. Army, Delivered at the Union Convention, Westmoreland County, PA, September 1861, Pittsburgh: Barr and Myers, 1861. Villanova University Digital Library, Stokes Collection.
  3. Committee of Examiners Appointment Letter, from William Strumberg Stokley, Mayor of Philadelphia to William A. Stokes, March 20, 1874. Villanova University Digital Library, Stokes Collection.

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