William S. Belko
Philip Pendleton Barbour in Jacksonian America
An Old Republican in King Andrew's Court
University of Alabama Press 2016
Though not a household name today, Philip Pendleton Barbour was a leading political and judicial figure in antebellum America. In Philip Pendleton Barbour in Jacksonian America: An Old Republican in King Andrew’s Court (U. of Alabama Press, 2016), William S. Belko uses his career as an example of the political transformations of the second generation of American politicians. Born the year that America attained its independence, Barbour entered politics as a Jeffersonian Republican, championing the principles articulated by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. Though out of step with the economic nationalism that predominated in the aftermath of the War of 1812, Barbour found an ally for his cause of a limited federal government in Andrew Jackson, and by the end of the 1820s he became a leader in the fight against the Bank of the United States. Though Jackson sought twice to appoint him as his attorney general, Barbour preferred a position on the federal bench, and was ultimately nominated to the Supreme Court in 1835. As Belko shows, Barbour’s service on the Court contributed to the advancement of the Jacksonian economic vision in American jurisprudence, though his premature death in 1841 came before he would have had to face as a justice the increasingly contentious issue of slavery that would shortly dominate the national discourse.