John Jay Jackson
Son of Gen. John Jay Jackson and Emma G. Jackson
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About John Jay Jackson, Jr
John Jay Jackson, Jr. (August 4, 1824 – September 2, 1907) was a United States federal judge, first from Virginia, and then from West Virginia, at the time of its creation as a separate state.
Early life and career
Born in Parkersburg, Virginia (now Parkersburg, West Virginia), Jackson graduated from Princeton University in 1845, and read law to enter the Bar in Virginia in 1847. Jackson's father, General John Jay Jackson of Wood County, attended the Wheeling Convention on West Virginia statehood. Jackson's brother Jacob Beeson Jackson served as governor of West Virginia and his other brother was Circuit Judge and Congressman James Monroe Jackson. He was a cousin of Stonewall Jackson. His grandfather, John George Jackson, preceded him as judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. His great-grandfathers included George Jackson. The Jackson Memorial Fountain at Parkersburg is dedicated to the Jackson family.
Jackson was in private practice in Wirt County, Virginia from 1847 to 1848, and a prosecuting attorney for Wirt County in 1848. He was a Commonwealth attorney of Ritchie County, Virginia from 1849 to 1850, then returned to private practice in Wood County, Virginia until 1851. He was a Member, of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1851 to 1855, and then returned to private practice, in Parkersburg until 1861.
Federal judicial service
On July 26, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Jackson to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia vacated by John W. Brockenbrough, who had resigned to join the Confederate government. Jackson was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 3, 1861, and received his commission the same day. At the time of Jackson's appointment, Virginia and West Virginia were still a single state. However, early in the course of the American Civil War, the western portion of Virginia rejected Virginia's secession from the United States, and itself seceded from Virginia. This area largely coincided with the existing Western District of Virginia. West Virginia was thereafter admitted as a state on June 20, 1863, and on June 11, 1864, by 13 Stat. 124, the court for the Western District of Virginia became the United States District Court for the District of West Virginia. Those parts of the Western District that were not part of West Virginia were combined with the Eastern District to again form a single District of Virginia. After 1864, the only federal judge for Virginia was John Curtiss Underwood. There was no Western District of Virginia from 1864 until 1871, when Alexander Rives took the bench after the Western District was re-established following the War.
Jackson was reassigned by operation of law to the newly formed United States District Court for the District of West Virginia. Notwithstanding his status as a Republican appointee, Judge Jackson ruled in 1870 that West Virginia's ex-Confederates were eligible to vote under the Fifteenth Amendment, which had profound effects on the polity in West Virginia.
On July 1, 1901, the District of West Virginia was subdivided into the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia and the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia; Jackson was reassigned to the Northern District, until his retirement on March 15, 1905, at the age of 80. Because he had served from before the creation of the District of West Virginia until after its subdivision, Jackson was the only judge to ever sit on the United States District Court for the District of West Virginia. Having served for nearly forty-four years, including over forty years in the federal courts in West Virginia, Jackson was known as "the Iron Judge". He was the longest-serving judge appointed by Lincoln.
Jackson died in 1907, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.