1855 he was elected a Member of the (34th) Congress. He declined a re-election, and determined to retire from public life.
In 1861 he was prevailed upon by friends of the Union to be a candidate for a seat in the convention to oppose the secession of the State. He was elected by a large majority, but the convention was defeated by a popular vote. When another convention was soon after called, and when it was apparent that the State would secede, he was not a candidate. After Secession was accomplished by a vote of the convention, he cast his lot with his State. Judge Reade was elected to the Confederate States Senate, and served therein during the war.
In December, 1863, in his absence, and without his active solicitation, he was elected by the legislature a judge of the Supreme Court.
At the close of the war in 1865 he was appointed a judge in the Provisional Government.
In the fall of 1865 he was unanimously elected to the state convention, called to form a constitution, and was chosen President of that body by acclamation.
The legislature that met in Dec. 1865 elected him one of the Justices of the Supreme Court. In 1868, under the new government, he was nominated by both parties and elected by nearly a unanimous vote to the office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; his term of office expired in 1878. He returned to his practice in Roxboro, where he resides.
He was married December, 1836, Emily A.L. Moore, daughter of Phillips Moore.
He was always a Whig and as opposed to secession has been a Unionist.
He is a clear, chaste and forcible writer, and was distinguished as an acute lawyer, and an eloquent and persuasive advocate and public speaker. He has been a member of the Presbyterian church from his youth and is now a ruling elder. He has discharged ably and well the duties of all the positions which he has ever occupied.
There lived near Roxboro, a Scotchman named James Williamson. His first wife was a daughter of Dempsey Moore. Of this marriage was born John Gustavus Adolphus Williamson, one of the most prominent sons of Person, a lawyer by profession, and an eminent statesman; represented his county in the House of Commons in 1823, was afterwards Consul to Venzuela and later appointed Chargé d'Affaires at Caraccas.
His second wife was Susan Paine, daughter of Major Paine, who lived at Paine's "Ornery." Of this marriage were born three sons, Robert, James and Alexander; and four daughters, Mary, Parthenia, Annie and Madrid [named for the Capital of Spain.]
Mary married Mr. Donaho, who died in Milton. Parthenia married Judge Dick, father of the present Judge R. P. Dick. She is still living in Greensboro'. Susan married a brother of Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin, formerly of Hillsboro'. Madrid married a young lawyer by the name of Jones, and moved to Tennessee.
Dr. Robert Williamson, the oldest son of his second wife, was a prominent physician in Rockingham County, where he he died about the year 1843. James M., second son by same marriage, moved to Tennessee, and followed the law, represented this County in the State Legislature, 1834.
Alexander, the third son by the same marriage, was a successful merchant in Memphis, left a large estate.
The first we learn of the Barnett family is that, John Barnett, of Scotch-Irish descent, came to America and settled in Pennsylvania. His son John married Miss Currie of that State. He lived at Bailey's Bridge, on the line of Person and Halifax counties. This was then the famous place to settle questions of honor by the pistol. Immediately upon the Virginia
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