Friday, March 22, 2013

Congress, Politics, Bladensburg, 1809, the words still inflame

               On the bloody arena near Bladensburg, Maryland, on Monday the 4th inst. a Duel took place between the Honorable Joseph Pierson [sic][1], of North-Carolina, and the Honorable John G. Jackson[2], a Virginia man of war, both Members of Congress.[3] --- The latter is thought to be mortally wounded.[4] --- Ever since the last session of Congress, these Southern Cossacks, like Tom O'Shanter's wife, have been "nursing" their "wrath, to keep it warm."[5] -- [Such lingo is frequently used by the Congress Enragees as, in the language of the combustible Mr. Secretary Smith [6], might, with some propriety, be styled "inadmissible, irrelevant and indecorous.[7]

Dueling Grounds - Bladensburg, Maryland
"In the ravine just north of the Fort Lincoln Cemetery amidst a cluster of trees was the famous Bladensburg Dueling Ground where more than fifty duels were fought during the first half of the 19th century. On what became known as “The Dark and Bloody Grounds,” gentlemen of Washington, D.C., settled their political and personal differences."
image fromthe Town of Bladensburg @2010 All rights reserved 

[1] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 2013. [accessed March 21, 2013]

PEARSON, Joseph, a Representative from North Carolina; born in Rowan County, N.C., in 1776; completed preparatory studies; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Salisbury, N.C.; member of the State house of commons; elected as a Federalist to the Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Congresses (March 4, 1809-March 3, 1815); while in Congress fought a duel with John George Jackson, of Virginia, and on the second fire wounded his opponent in the hip; died in Salisbury, N.C., October 27, 1834.

[2] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 2013. [accessed March 21, 2013]

JACKSON, John George, (son of George Jackson, brother of Edward Brake Jackson, and grandfather of William Thomas Bland), a Representative from Virginia; born in Buckhannon, Va. (now West Virginia), September 22, 1777; moved with his parents to Clarksburg in 1784; received an English training and became a civil engineer; appointed surveyor of public lands of what is now the State of Ohio in 1793; member of the Virginia house of delegates 1798-1801; elected as a Republican to the Eighth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1803, to September 28, 1810, when he resigned; while in Congress fought a duel with Joseph Pearson, of North Carolina, and on the second fire was wounded in the hip; member of the State house of delegates in 1811 and 1812; brigadier general of Virginia Militia in 1812; elected as a Republican to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses (March 4, 1813-March 3, 1817); declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1816 to the Fifteenth Congress; appointed United States district judge for the western district of Virginia in 1819 and served until his death in Clarksburg, Va. (now West Virginia), March 28, 1825; interment in the Old Jackson Cemetery.

[3] Stephen W. Brown. 1985. Voice of the New West: John G. Jackson, His Life and Times. Mercer University Press.  pp. 85-92.

The Miranda Affair 1806 Invasion of Venezuela lay at the heart of the political attacks that resulted in the duel.

[4] The Courier; Date: 12-13-1809; Volume: XIV; Issue: 5; Page: [3]; Location: Norwich, Connecticut

WASHINGTON DECEMBER 5TH, 1809.  "THE DUEL. - Yesterday morning a duel took place at Bladensburg between Joseph Pierson, Esq. of North Caorlina,and John G. Jackson, of Virginia.  On the second fire Mr. Jackson received Mr. Pierson's shot in the thigh, and we are informed the wound id thought dangerous.  Mr. Pierson was not hurt." 

[5] Alexandria Burns Club. 2013. [accessed March 21, 2013]

"Tam o' Shanter is a wonderful, epic poem in which Burns paints a vivid picture of the drinking classes in the old Scotch town of Ayr in the late 18th century. It is populated by several unforgettable characters including of course Tam himself, his bosom pal, Souter (Cobbler) Johnnie and his own long suffering wife Kate, "Gathering her brows like gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm". We are also introduced to Kirkton Jean, the ghostly, "winsome wench", Cutty Sark and let's not forget his gallant horse, Maggie. "

[6] Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State. 2013. accessed March 21, 2013]

Robert Smith served as Secretary of State under President James Madison from March 6, 1809 to April 1, 1811. Smith’s controversial appointment and clashes with Madison influenced his service as Secretary of State.

Wikipedia. 2013. [accessed March 21, 2013]

Robert Smith (November 3, 1757 – November 26, 1842) was the second United States Secretary of the Navy from 1801 to 1809 and the sixth United States Secretary of State from 1809 to 1811. He was the brother of Senator Samuel Smith.

[7] The Providence Gazette.; Date: 12-16-1809; Volume: XLV; Issue: 2398; Page: [3]; Location: Providence, Rhode Island

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