Judge John Jay Jackson Jr. died on September 2, 1907, at age 83. His long career on the bench and in politics stretched from the West Virginia statehood movement to the early years of the mine wars.
The Wood County native served as a Whig in the Virginia General Assembly in the early 1850s. As the nation was tearing apart just before the Civil War, Jackson stood steadfast for the Union. In return, Abraham Lincoln appointed him a federal district judge. Jackson’s court became an important symbol of federal power in northwestern Virginia and later West Virginia. Some Republicans criticized Jackson’s court decisions for being too lenient on Southern sympathizers, but he retained President Lincoln’s confidence. In 1870, commissioners appointed by Jackson to supervise West Virginia elections opened the vote to ex-Confederates, leading to Democratic control of the state.
In his later years, Judge Jackson became an enemy of the state’s fledgling labor movement. His famous injunctions against Eugene V. Debs, “Mother” Jones, and others stymied union organizing efforts. At the time of his retirement in 1905, he’d served 44 years, longer than any other federal judge.