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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/James F. Wilson

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JAMES F. WILSON


JAMES F. WILSON was born at Newark, Ohio, October 19, 1828. His education was obtained in the common schools and he learned the trade of harness making in his youth. He soon decided to study law and was admitted to the bar in 1851. In 1853 he became a resident of Iowa, and locating at Fairfield opened a law office. In 1856 he was a delegate to the convention which organized the Republican party. In 1857 he was a member of the convention which framed the present Constitution of the State. Although one of the youngest members he took an active part in the work. In October of that year he was elected to the House of the Seventh General Assembly and was chairman of the committee on ways and means. In 1860 he was a member of the State Senate and after serving through a regular and extra session was elected Representative in Congress to fill a vacancy in the First District. He was three times reëlected, serving through the war and reconstruction periods until March, 1871. When Grant was inaugurated President in 1869 he tendered Mr. Wilson a place in his cabinet as Secretary of State which was declined. In the impeachment trial of President Johnson, Mr. Wilson was one of the managers on part of the House. He had originally opposed impeachment and as a member of the judiciary committee had made a minority report in which he gave an able review of the most important cases of impeachment in the British Parliament and Senate of the United States. His report forms a valuable treatise on the subject. He was the author of the joint resolution for amendment of the Constitution of the United States in 1864, abolishing slavery, and made one of the greatest speeches of his life on that subject. In January, 1882, Mr. Wilson was elected to the United States Senate for six years and was reëlected, serving until March, 1895. Mr. Wilson died at his home in Fairfield in April, 1895.