James Wayne Delton Jackson,
James Wayne Delton Jackson, also known variously as
James D. Jackson and James Jackson, was a professor of Chemistry and Geology in the
Franklin College (i.e., the University of Georgia) from 1823 to 1850, as well as Professor
of Natural Philosophy (i.e., physics) from 1827 to 1842. He was also a member of
a famous family of Jacksons with many ties to the University of Georgia and to Georgia
first professor of Geology at the
University of Georgia
Jackson's family, and its ties to the University of Georgia
James Wayne Delton Jackson was born on December
20, 1787 in Savannah. He was the son of James Jackson (1757-1806) and Mary
Charlotte Young. James Jackson, the father, was a hero of the Revolutionary War
and served under Anthony Wayne (hence the second of James Wayne Delton Jackson's
four names) (Lamplugh). James Jackson
was Governor of Georgia (1788 and 1798-1801), a member from Georgia of the U.S.
House of Representatives (1789-1791) and a U.S. senator from Georgia (1793-1795 and
1801-1806) (Lamplugh). He was an early
trustee of the University of Georgia (Reed, Chapter II,
p.2-3/151-152). As senator in 1795, James Jackson resigned his seat and
returned home to attack the perpetrators of the Yazoo Land Fraud, a bribery scandal
regarding lands claimed by the State of Georgia but in present day Alabama and
Mississippi (hence the name "Yazoo"). He famously stood in front of the
Georgia statehouse in Louisville and used a magnifying glass to set fire to the deeds and
other papers filed in connection with the Yazoo fraud. Throughout his career he
was known for dueling and brawling, and he is remembered as " the 'colossus' of
Georgia politics" of his times (Lamplugh).
Jackson County, Georgia, is named after him(Wikipedia).
Other noteworthy members of the family of James
Wayne Delton Jackson include
→ his uncle Henry Jackson (1778-1840), U.S. Charge d'Affaires to France until 1817
and Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Georgia from 1811 to 1814 and
1817 to 1828.
→ his cousin, Henry's son Henry Rootes Jackson (1820-1898), who was a U.S.
district attorney, judge, minister resident (ambassador) to the court of Austria from 1854
to 1858, briefly Chancellor of the University of Georgia in 1858, a Confederate brigadier
general in the U.S. Civil War, and U.S. Minister to Mexico in 1885 (VAB).
→ his brother William Henry Jackson, a member of the Board of Trustees of the
University of Georgia from 1822 to 1864, a long-time resident of Athens, and the
homeowner who deeded the land for Athens's famous "Tree that owns itself" (Reed, Chapter II, p. 71/95).
→ his brother Jabez Young Jackson, was a member of the U.S. House of
Representatives from 1835 to 1839 (Wikipedia).
→ his cousin or nephew (or possibly his son), another James Jackson (born in 1819
or 1820 and died in 1887) who was Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court from
1879 to 1887, and who was for many years a trustee of the University of Georgia
(VAB; Reed Chapter IV p. 348/393).
Jackson and the University of Georgia, and its ties to his family
James Wayne Delton Jackson entered the University of
Georgia at the age of 14 in 1801, the first year that the University, as Franklin College,
held classes. He and his brother, William Henry Jackson, graduated in 1804 in the
University's first graduating class. James Wayne Delton Jackson was thus one of
the first students of Josiah Meigs, and he graduated at the age of 17. He went on
to be a member of Georgia House of Representatives in 1810 and 1811, and he served in
the War of 1812 as captain of the Jefferson Huzzars of the 1st cavalry of the Georgia
Militia (Reed, Chapter II, p. 72/96).
Historian Thomas Walter Reed speculates that James Wayne Delton Jackson
"must have entered the teaching profession about that time", but no evidence seems to be
available (Reed, Chapter II, p. 72/96).
James Wayne Delton Jackson became the University of
Georgia's professor of Chemistry and Geology in 1823, the year after his brother became
one of the University's trustees. The position emerged as the professorship of
Chemistry and Natural Philosophy held by his uncle Henry Jackson was divided, with
Henry retaining the professorship of Natural History until 1827. James Wayne
Delton Jackson thus became the first professor of anything called "Geology" at the
University of Georgia in 1823 (Reed, Chapter III, p.
On his appointment in 1823, James Wayne Delton
Jackson was also expected to teach French on the side. When Henry Jackson
resigned the professorship of Natural History in 1827, James Wayne Delton Jackson
became Professor of Chemistry, Geology, and Natural Philosophy, and he held the
professorship of Natural Philosophy (i.e., physics) until 1841 or 1842. Until
1841, the University had received an allocation of $6000 per year from the state, but that
allocation was cut or eliminated that year. As a result, the faculty was cut from
six professors to four, and the responsibilities of the survivors were redistributed (Reed, Chapter IV, p. 399/445). In this
redistribution, Jackson was no longer Professor of Natural Philosophy, but he remained
professor of Chemistry and Geology (or "Chemistry and Natural History"). The
probability of his survival in the downsizing of 1841 may have been enhanced by the
presence of his brother on the University's Board of Trustees.
James Wayne Delton Jackson remained professor of
Chemistry and Geology until 1850. Among his students would have been Joseph
LeConte (Class of 1841) and William Louis Jones (Class of 1845), the next generation of
professors of geology at the University. Reed preserved this anecdote about
James Wayne Delton Jackson (Reed, Chapter III, p.
He was greatly respected by both students and faculty members. . . .
Naturally he was very fond of his father's [James Jackson's] reputation as an
uncompromising foe of corrupt government, and it is said that when some student hadn't
prepared his recitation and feared being called on in class, [that student] would suggest to
Professor Jackson that he tell the class all about his father's taking that sun-glass on the
capitol square in Louisville and drawing fire from heaven with which to destroy the
papers of the Yazoo fraud. The professor never tired of relating that story, and
the class would escape further questioning on the lesson.
At his resignation in 1850, James Wayne Delton
Jackson's twenty-seven years of service constituted the longest term of service of any
University of Georgia faculty member to that date. He was remembered as having "been
faithful, accomodating, scholarly, [and] popular with both faculty and students" and at
his retirement the Board of Trustees wished him a retirement "congenial to enjoyment and
repose"(Reed, Chapter V, p. 487/541). He
died in 1857. His name, or at least that of his family, survives in Athens with
Jackson Street, which passes through the University of Georgia campus.
Thomas Walter Reed 's History of the
University of Georgia, (~1949).
Biographies entry on James Jackson.
George R. Lamplugh, New
Georgia Encyclopedia entries on the Yazoo Land Fraud and James Jackson.
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the University of Georgia Department of Geology
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