Sunday, February 1, 1998

James Walter Wall

Mayor and Senator

James Walter Wall, son of Garret Dorset Wall, was born in 1820, and, like his father, served in the military, attaining the rank of Colonel. He also shared his father's passion for the political arena. A year after his father's death, the startup Democratic party swept the local elections, and James, at 31, became the first mayor of Burlington under the new City charter. Well-respected in town, he was a very popular mayor.

Active in literature and journalism, the younger Wall corresponded with prominent citizens throughout the eastern states. In 1861, he became aware that some of his letters to friends in the southern states, opposing the Civil War, were being censored by the postmaster general, and wrote a letter protesting this censorship. He was accused of treason and arrested at his home, though not without a fight - he threw at least one constable across a room before being restrained.

The citizens of Burlington were incensed, and local anti-war sentiments were only galvanized by Wall's arrest. The mayor was returned to his home a short time later, and was elected to the U.S. Senate the very next year. He died in 1872, and is buried, like his father, at St. Mary's Church.

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