History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/George W. Jones

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GEORGE W. JONES was born in Vincennes, Indiana, April 12, 1804. His father, John R. Jones, was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri. The son, George W., was educated in Transylvania University in Kentucky. When a small boy he served as a drummer in a volunteer company in the war with Great Britain. In 1823 he made the acquaintance of Jefferson Davis who was a young officer in the military service on the frontier. They met again in the Black Hawk War and later served long together in the United States Senate and were warm friends. George W. studied law and in 1827 removed to Michigan Territory where he engaged in mining. During the Black Hawk War he served on the staff of General Henry Dodge. In 1835 he was elected delegate from Michigan Territory to Congress. Michigan at that time embraced that region of the northwest which was divided into the States of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas. He secured the organization of the Territory of Wisconsin, in 1837, was the first delegate in Congress from that Territory and procured the establishment of Iowa Territory. In 1845 he was appointed Surveyor-General of Iowa and removed to Dubuque. In 1848 he was chosen one of the first United States Senators from the State of Iowa. He was thoroughly devoted to the interests of the new State and during his long term of service in the Senate worked untiringly for its material prosperity. His intimate knowledge of needs of the northwest, derived from long residence on the frontier and his wide acquaintance with the public men of that period, enabled him to secure such legislation as was required for the rapid development of the great natural resources of the new State. In 1852 he was reëlected for a term of six years but before its expiration the State passed under the control of the Republican party. As General Jones was a lifelong Democrat he could not hope for a third election and President Buchanan appointed him United States Minister to New Grenada in South America. After his return from that mission in 1861 General Jones was arrested by a United States marshal and confined in Fort Lafayette for about two months on a charge of disloyalty. He had written a private letter to his old friend, Jefferson Davis, which had been intercepted by a Government official. In the letter were found indiscreet if not disloyal expressions and in that time of great public excitement over secession and Rebellion the arrest followed. He was never indicted or placed on trial and President Lincoln soon ordered his release. In 1892 General Jones was granted a pension by special act of Congress for services in the Black Hawk War. In April, 1894, Governor Jackson and the General Assembly of Iowa then in session, tendered to General Jones a public reception in recognition of his valuable services in the formative periods of the Territory and State. General Jones died at his home in Dubuque July 22, 1890, at the age of ninety-two.