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General John Jay Jackson (February 13, 1800-January 1, 1877), was born near Parkersburg. His grandfather, George Jackson, was a three-term congressman. John G. Jackson, the father of John Jay and son of George, took over George’s seat in Congress and served five terms.

Educated at Washington College (now Washington & Jefferson College) in Pennsylvania and at West Point, John Jay Jackson served in the Seminole War as a member of Gen. Andrew Jackson’s staff. In 1823, he resigned his commission and returned to Parkersburg to practice law. After two brief terms as a prosecuting attorney he was elected to the General Assembly of Virginia, where he served six terms. He commanded a brigade in the Virginia militia from 1842 to 1861.

In April 1861, Jackson served in the convention in Richmond that voted for Virginia to secede from the United States. Jackson himself voted against secession and before leaving Richmond presided over the Powhatan Hotel conference of Western Virginians who resolved to try to keep Virginia loyal to the union. At the First Wheeling Convention the following month, he and other conservatives delayed an attempt to create a new state. By 1863, he supported the move for the creation of a separate state but opposed the final step in that process because he was pro-slavery and the Willey Amendment, which cleared the way for West Virginia to become a state, provided for an end to slavery.

Although active in West Virginia politics, Jackson did not seek elective office. He capped his public service as a member (1871) of the commission to ascertain West Virginia’s share of the Virginia debt, an intractable problem that was not finally settled until 1919.

Jackson was the father of Gov. Jacob Beeson Jackson and Judge John Jay Jackson Jr.

This Article was written by Edward M. Steel

Last Revised on January 12, 2023

Related Articles


Baas, Jacob C. Jr. "John Jay Jackson Jr.: His Early Life and Public Career, 1824-1870." Ph.D. diss., West Virginia University, 1975.

Brown, Stephen W. "John George Jackson: A Biography." Ph.D. diss., West Virginia University, 1975.

Cite This Article

Steel, Edward M. "John Jay Jackson Sr.." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 January 2023. Web. 14 April 2024.


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