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Categories: Government Politicians

William Taylor Barry

Born February 5, 1784 - Died August 30, 1835

William Taylor Barry was an American politician.

Barry was born in Lunenberg, Virginia on February 5th, 1784. At a young age he moved with his family to Lexington, Kentucky where he remained a life long resident. Barry graduated from William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1803. After graduation he studied 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 then served in the military during the War of 1812. After the war he served in the United States Senate for 1 term before returning to Kentucky.

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

In 1829, President Andrew Jackson appointed Barry to the position of United States Postmaster General. He became the only member of Jackson's cabinet who didn't 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 he felt the situation was no ones concern except the Eaton's. Unfortunately the infighting occurring 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 passed away on August 30th, 1835.

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.