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Categories: Government Politicians

William Taylor

Born February 5, 1784 - Died August 30, 1835

William Taylor Barry was an American politician.

Barry was born in Lunenberg, Virgina. At a young age he moved with his family to Lexington, Kentucky where he would remain a life long resident. Barry would graduate from William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virgina in 1803. After graduation he would study law and be admitted to the bar in 1805.

In 1807, Barry began his political career when he was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives.

In 1809 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives service one term. He would then serve in the military during the War of 1812. After the war he would serve in the United States Senate for 1 term before returning to Kentucky.

Back in Kentucky during the 1820's he would serve as Kentucky's sixth Lieutenant Governor, Kentucky Secretary of State and in 1828 would be a candidate for Governor.

In 1829, Barry would be appointed by President Andrew Jackson to be the United States Postmaster General. He would be the only member of Jackson's cabinet that would not resign over Petticoat Affair.

The Petticoat Affair, also known as the Eaton Affair, involved a social revolt among the wives of Jackson's cabinet members. A local Washington D.C. woman, Margret O'Neale, who worked at one of the more popular social establishments in Washington came under fire by the members of high society. This happened when, after her first marriage, she continued to work in the establishment which was owned by her parents. Adding to this social faux pas, when her first husband went to sea she was seen often in the company of John Eaton, Jackson's Secretary of War. Although Eaton and O'Neale denied any impropriety many in the local high society continued to bad mouth her. When O'Neale's husband was lost at sea, Eaton and O'Neale were married. This only made things worse for O'Neale, now Mrs. Eaton.

Barry in a letter to his daughter at the time made it clear that he felt that this was no ones concern except the Eaton's. Unfortunately the infighting that occurred from this in the Cabinet caused everyone except Barry to resign and prompted Jackson to say of his new Cabinet "To the next Cabinet may they all be bachelors or leave their wives at home."

Barry was a member of Lexington Lodge No. 1 and then Davies Lodge No. 22 both in Lexington, Kentucky. Barry was made an honorary member of Federal Lodge No. 1 in Washington D.C. in 1830.