Joshua Barton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Photograph of an early 19th painting of Joshua Barton
Joshua Barton
First Missouri Secretary of State
In office

Joshua Barton (July 28, 1792 – June 30, 1823) was the first Missouri Secretary of State. He was involved in three duels with prominent Missouri politicians before being killed in a duel.

Barton, a younger brother of Senator David Barton, was born in Jefferson County, Tennessee.

He moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1809. He studied law under Rufus Easton, who was Missouri Territory's second representative to Congress. After being admitted to the bar, he and Edward Bates, Missouri's first attorney general, formed a law firm.[1]

Barton was the first Secretary of State, but resigned to become district attorney of St. Louis, Missouri.


In 1816, he fought a duel with Thomas Hempstead, brother of Edward Hempstead, Missouri's first representative to Congress. Bates was his second. Thomas Hart Benton was Hempstead's second. The duel ended in no bloodshed.[1]

In 1817, he was second to Charles Lucas in two duels with Benton. After having been wounded the first time, Lucas was killed during the second duel.[1]

In 1823, David Barton opposed the reappointment of William Rector as Surveyor General for Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas, saying that Rector was hiring his relatives as surveyors and overpaying his surveyors. Rector had overseen the surveying the Louisiana Purchase, including the establishment of the Beginning Point of the Louisiana Purchase Survey.[2] William Rector had previously been hired to survey the location route of the Buffalo Trace before an Indian treaty line was established.[3]

Joshua Barton made the charges in a letter signed "Philo" to the weekly newspaper the St. Louis Republican. Rector's brother, Thomas Rector, contacted the paper and found out that Barton had written the letter and challenged him to a duel. They met at 6 p.m. on June 30, 1823, on Bloody Island (where the previous duels had occurred). Barton was killed instantly, while Thomas Rector was not hurt. Rector died in 1825 in a knife fight in St. Louis.[1] President James Monroe did not reappoint William Rector.[4]

Political offices
Preceded by
Missouri Secretary of State
Succeeded by
William Grymes Pettus


  1. ^ a b c d Christenson, Lawrence O.; Foley, William E.; Kremer, Gary R.; Winn, Kenneth H., eds. (1999). Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-8262-1222-0. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  2. ^ Baker, Lea Flowers; et al. "Survey of the Louisiana Purchase in 1815" Archived 2012-02-12 at the Wayback Machine. (PDF) (lesson plan). Department of Arkansas Heritage, Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
  3. ^ Hetzler, John (March 1, 2014). "Using GIS to Search for the Buffalo Trace". Point of Beginning Magazine. BNP Media. Surveying History. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "Crack of the Pistol: Dueling in 19th Century Missouri". Missouri Digital Heritage. Missouri Office of the Secretary of State. Retrieved September 8, 2008.