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John L. Barstow

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Title: John L. Barstow  
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Subject: Samuel E. Pingree, Vermont gubernatorial election, 1882, Roswell Farnham, Vermont gubernatorial election, 1884, Governors of Vermont
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John L. Barstow

John L. Barstow
39th Governor of Vermont
In office
October 5, 1882 – October 2, 1884
Lieutenant Samuel E. Pingree
Preceded by Roswell Farnham
Succeeded by Samuel E. Pingree
32nd Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
In office
October 7, 1880 – October 5, 1882
Governor Roswell Farnham
Preceded by Eben Pomeroy Colton
Succeeded by Samuel E. Pingree
Personal details
Born (1832-02-21)February 21, 1832
Shelburne, Vermont
Died June 28, 1913(1913-06-28) (aged 81)
Shelburne, Vermont
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Laura Maeck
Profession teacher / farmer / politician / soldier

John Lester Barstow (February 21, 1832 – June 28, 1913) was a teacher, farmer, politician, and soldier.

Barstow was born in Shelburne, Vermont, the son of Heman and Lorain (Lyon) Barstow. After teaching in a local school starting at the age of 15, he moved west to Detroit, but returned in 1857 to help his aging parents with the farm. He married, October 28, 1858, Laura Maeck, of Shelburne. He subsequently obtained a position as assistant clerk in the Vermont House of Representatives in Montpelier, in which position he was employed when the American Civil War broke out.

Civil War

Barstow enlisted as quartermaster sergeant, but was immediately commissioned adjutant of the 8th Vermont Infantry on February 19, 1862. He was given command of Company K, as captain, on May 27, 1863, then promoted to the field and staff as major, on January 22, 1864. He mustered out with the regiment on June 22, 1864. He was held in such esteem by the members of his regiment, that he was given two swords, one when he was promoted to major, the other when the regiment was mustered out.

He entered the service with robust health and vigorous constitution, but nearly three years of arduous service in the swamps and miasmatic climate of Louisiana shattered both, and for many years malarial diseases deterred him from entering upon any active business pursuit. Soon after the regiment was disbanded, Vermont Adjutant and Inspector General Peter T. Washburn offered Barstow a position in the recruiting service, but he was obliged to decline due to his health.

In September, 1864, he was elected as a member of the state legislature, which was in session on October 19, 1864, when the George J. Stannard in January 1865.

Postwar career

In September 1865, Barstow was unanimously reelected to the state legislature, and served as state senator from Chittenden County in 1866 and 1867. In 1870, President Grant appointed him U.S. pension agent at Burlington, a position he held for eight years. His efforts in reforming the pension system were rewarded with a letter of thanks from the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz.

In 1879, Barstow was appointed by Governor Redfield Proctor to serve as the state commissioner for the centennial celebration of the surrender of General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. In 1880 he was elected the 31st Lieutenant-Governor, and in 1882 was elected governor, having been nominated to each office the unanimous vote of the respective Republican conventions.

He was the first Governor of Vermont to call attention to alleged discriminating and excessive rates of freight by transportation companies, and urged the creation of an effective railroad commission.

George Carpenter, his regimental historian, says: "The Ely riots occurred during Governor Barstow's term of office, and his course in requiring that justice should precede force, and that the riotous miners be paid their honest dues, attracted much favorable comment throughout the country."

The resolution of the Legislature of 1884, requesting the Vermont delegation in Congress to use their best efforts to secure the passage of the interstate commerce law, was passed in pursuance of Governor Barstow's recommendation.

At the close of his administration the Rutland Herald expressed the general opinion of his constituents that "he had been as careful, independent, able and efficient a ruler as Vermont had enjoyed for twenty years."

In 1891 he was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison to serve on a commission with General Alexander McDowell McCook, U.S. Army, to treat with the Navajo Indians. In 1893 at the request of Governor Levi K. Fuller he has acted with the executive committee of the national anti-trust society.

Barstow was a member of the Vermont Officers' Reunion Society, the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. He was an Episcopalian by religious preferences, and was a Mason from 1853.

He died in Shelburne, and is buried in the village cemetery.


  • Benedict, G. G., Vermont in the Civil War. A History of the part taken by the Vermont Soldiers And Sailors in the War For The Union, 1861-5. Burlington, VT.: The Free Press Association, 1888, ii:83–84, 100, 114–116, 118, 127, 130, 132–134, 140, 143.
  • Carpenter, George N. History of the Eighth Regiment Vermont Volunteers. 1861–1865. Issued by the committee of publication. Boston, Press of Deland & Barta, 1886.;
  • Dodge, Prentiss C., compiler. Encyclopedia Vermont Biography, Burlington, VT: Ullery Publishing Company, 1912, p. 40.
  • Peck, Theodore S., compiler, Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers and lists of Vermonters Who Served in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, 1861–66. Montpelier, VT.: Press of the Watchman Publishing Co., 1892, p. 751.
  • Ullery, Jacob G., Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, Brattleboro, VT: Transcript Publishing Company, 1894, part ii, pp. 20–21.
Political offices
Preceded by
Eben Pomeroy Colton
Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Samuel E. Pingree
Preceded by
Roswell Farnham
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Samuel E. Pingree
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