Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,284

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,284


This is the grave of Isaac Barnard.

Born in 1791 in Aston Township, Pennsylvania, Barnard came from an old Pennsylvania family that had emigrated from France in the 1680s. He finished his basic schooling and was a teacher around the Philadelphia area for awhile. He then moved to Chester, Pennsylvania to continue teaching. His life probably wouldn’t be that well remembered, well to the extent that it is actually remembered, if it hadn’t been for the War of 1812. He got a commission as a captain in the infantry, Fourteenth Regiment. He did very well and was promoted to major during the war. He served at several relatively major battles, including Baltimore, Fort George, and Plattsburgh.

So Barnard left the military and was a guy on the rise. He decided to study for the law and passed the bar in 1817. He started a practice in West Chester, outside of Philadelphia. He started rising in local politics too. He immediately became deputy attorney general of Chester County after he passed the bar, a position he continued in until 1821. He became Assistant Burgess of the county as well, and also was a major-general in the state militia. Not surprisingly, this led him into the state legislature in 1821 and he was there until 1826. This was time when the so-called Era of Good Feelings was fading and the new parties were developing. Barnard became a good Jacksonian, the type of young Pennsylvanian associated with such Pennsylvania figured as George Dallas and James Buchanan. He was still quite young and one might have thought would have had the career that his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats had, but that didn’t quite happen in the end. The reason was his bad health. I’m not sure what the problem was, but he would have a short career.

To be fair to him though, that career put him in the U.S. Senate. He was selected to enter the Senate in 1827. He really wanted to be governor and in 1829, ran with Buchanan’s support, but he didn’t win the Democratic nomination. So he stayed in the Senate. He didn’t really do that much as a senator and with his health getting really bad by the early 1830s, he stepped down in 1831. George Dallas replaced him and soon would become vice-president under James Polk. As for Barnard, he wasted away and died in 1834. He was 42 years old. I’d like to say more about Barnard, but there’s really not a ton out there that is very interesting. So we will leave it here.

Isaac Barnard is buried in Oaklands Cemetery, West Chester, Pennsylvania. This was not his first burial. He was originally in another cemetery nearby but was moved to this nice spot in 1854, which is when this gravestone was placed here.

If you would like this series to visit other senators who were elected in the 1826-27 cycle, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. James Noble of Indiana is in Washington, D.C., and Albion Parris of Maine is in Portland, Maine. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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