Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James Barbour (1825–1828): Secretary of War

Born June 10, 1775, in Orange County, Virginia, James Barbour studied law and served as deputy sheriff of Orange until he was admitted to the bar in 1794. He entered the political arena in 1796, winning election to the Virginia House of Delegates and serving there until 1812; he would also be that body’s Speaker from 1809 to 1812.

Barbour was Virginia’s governor from 1812 to 1814 prior to winning a seat, as a Republican, in the U.S. Senate (1815-1825).

President John Quincy Adams brought Barbour into the cabinet as secretary of war (1825-1828); thereafter, Barbour would serve as U.S. minister plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain (1828-1829). Barbour’s last significant political post was chairman of the Whig National Convention in 1839. He died in Barboursville, Virginia, on June 7, 1842.