John G. Jackson (politician)

John G. Jackson
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
February 24, 1819  March 28, 1825
Appointed by James Monroe
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Philip C. Pendleton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1813  March 3, 1817
Preceded by Thomas Wilson
Succeeded by James Pindall
In office
March 4, 1803  September 28, 1810
Preceded by John Smith
Succeeded by William McKinley
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Harrison County
In office
Alongside Isaac Coplin
In office
Alongside John Prunty
In office
Alongside John Prunty
In office
Alongside John Prunty
Personal details
Born John George Jackson
(1774-09-22)September 22, 1774
Buckhannon, Virginia
Died March 28, 1825(1825-03-28) (aged 50)
Clarksburg, Virginia
Political party Democratic-Republican
Profession lawyer, surveyor
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Virginia militia
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars War of 1812

John George Jackson (September 22, 1777 – March 28, 1825) was a U.S. Representative and federal judge from Virginia, the son of George Jackson, brother of Edward B. Jackson, and grandfather of William Thomas Bland, Jacob Beeson Jackson, James Monroe Jackson, and John Jay Jackson, Jr.

Early life, education, and career

Born in Buckhannon, Virginia (now West Virginia), Jackson moved with his parents to Clarksburg in 1784. He received an English training and became a civil engineer. In 1793, he was appointed surveyor of public lands west of the Ohio River, in what is now the State of Ohio, conducting that office from 1796 to 1798. He served as member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1798 to 1801, during which time he supported resolutions against the Alien and Sedition Acts. Jackson read law to enter the bar in 1801. Besides his law practice, Jackson began a number of successful businesses.

Prior to marriage, Jackson had a son, who became General John J. Jackson, the father of John Jay Jackson, Jr. Jackson's first wife Mary "Polly" Payne was the youngest sister of Dolley Madison - they were married in 1800. She died in 1808 of tuberculosis. Jackson continued to correspond with Dolley Madison after the death of his wife and her sister. On June 11, 1810, shortly before he married Mary Sophia Meigs, the daughter of Return J. Meigs, Jr. he wrote Dolley that his new wife "is about the size of our dear Mary, [and] much such a person."[1]

Writing under the pseudonym, "A Mountaineer," Jackson protested in the Richmond Examiner against what he perceived were the two main inequities of the Virginia Constitution - voting rights tied to land ownership, and representation in the legislature based on counties rather than population.

Congressional service

Jackson was elected to the Eighth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1803, to September 28, 1810. Because of their family ties, Jackson was viewed as a mouthpiece for James Madison, and Jackson's remarks from the floor of the House were often controversial. In 1809, while in Congress Jackson fought a duel with another Congressman, Joseph Pearson of North Carolina, and on the second fire was wounded in the hip. Jackson resigned because of his wounds, and was succeeded by William McKinley.

He served a second period in the Virginia General Assembly, from 1811 to 1812. On December 26, 1811, Jackson escaped a deadly fire that swept through a theater in Richmond, Virginia, killing, among others, Governor William Smith.[2] He was a brigadier general of the Virginia Commonwealth Militia in 1812, in the early stages of the War of 1812.

Jackson was elected to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses (March 4, 1813 – March 3, 1817). He declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1816 to the Fifteenth Congress, and was succeeded by James Pindall. Jackson then returned to private practice of law in Clarksburg, Virginia from 1817 to 1819. He was a member of the Board of Commissioners who met at the tavern at Rockfish Gap in 1818 and decided to locate the University of Virginia at Charlottesville - a group that included Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Marshall and among others, Philip C. Pendleton, another future judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.


Federal judicial service

In 1819, St. George Tucker was the sole judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia, then covering all of what is today Virginia and West Virginia. That year, Congress divided Virginia into two federal court districts, Eastern and Western, by 3 Stat. 478. Tucker was reassigned to the Eastern District, and on February 20, 1819, Jackson was nominated by President James Monroe to serve as the first judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The United States Senate confirmed his nomination on February 24, 1819, and he received his commission the same day. He served until his death in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). He was interred in the Old Jackson Cemetery.

He was succeeded on the bench by Philip C. Pendleton.

Two books have been written about Jackson's life.[3]


  1. "Untitled". University of Virginia. Retrieved October 2, 2007.
  2. "Time Trail, West Virginia". West Virginia Archives and History. Retrieved October 2, 2007.
  3. Davis, Dorothy (1976). John George Jackson. McClain Printing Company. ISBN 0-87012-241-X.; Brown, Stephen (1985). Voice of the New West: John G. Jackson, His Life and Times. Mercer University Press. ISBN 0-86554-162-0.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
William McKinley
Preceded by
Thomas Wilson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
James Pindall
Legal offices
Preceded by
Position established
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Succeeded by
Philip C. Pendleton
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