HARLAN, James, (1820 - 1899)

Senate Years of Service: 1855-1857; 1857-1865; 1867-1873
Party: Free Soil; Republican

Library of Congress

HARLAN, James, a Senator from Iowa; born in Clark County, Ill., August 26, 1820; at age four, moved with his family to Indiana; attended the rural schools, assisted his father in farming, and taught school until 1841, when he entered college; graduated from Indiana Asbury (now DePauw) University, Greencastle, Ind., in 1845; moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1845; superintendent of public instruction in 1847; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1850 and commenced practice in Iowa City; declined the Whig nomination for Governor of Iowa in 1850; president of Iowa Wesleyan University, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 1853-1855; elected as a Free Soiler to the United States Senate in 1855, presented his credentials, and took his seat December 31, 1855; owing to irregularities in the legislative proceedings the Senate declared the seat vacant in January 1857; reelected as a Republican to fill the vacancy thus created; reelected in 1860 and served from January 29, 1857, until May 15, 1865, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet portfolio; chairman, Committee on Public Lands (Thirty-seventh through Thirty-ninth Congresses); Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Andrew Johnson from May 15, 1865, until July 27, 1866, when he resigned; again elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1867, to March 3, 1873; chairman, Committee on the District of Columbia (Fortieth Congress), Committee on Education (Fortieth Congress), Committee on Indian Affairs (Forty-first and Forty-second Congresses); delegate to the peace convention held in Washington, D.C., in 1861, in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending war; unsuccessful candidate for the Senate and the governorship; presiding judge of the court of commissioners of Alabama claims 1882-1886; died in Mount Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa, on October 5, 1899; interment in Forest Home Cemetery.


Bibliography

American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Brigham, Johnson. James Harlan. Iowa City: State Historical Society of Iowa, 1913; Davis, R.E. “James Harlan: A Case Study of Early Republicanism.” Central States Speech Journal 34 (Summer 1983): 104-13.