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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesOregon

James Willis NESMITH

(1820-1885)
Senate Years of Service:
1861-1867
Party:
Democrat

NESMITH, James Willis, (cousin of Joseph Gardner Wilson & grandfather of Clifton Nesmith McArthur), a Senator and a Representative from Oregon; born in New Brunswick, Canada, while his parents were on a visit from their home in Washington County, Maine, July 23, 1820; moved with his father to Claremont, N.H., about 1828; received a limited schooling; moved to Ohio in 1838 and Oregon in 1843; studied law; admitted to the bar but never practiced extensively; engaged in agricultural pursuits and stock raising; elected judge of the provisional government of Oregon in 1845; captain in 1848 and 1853 of expeditions against hostile Indians; United States marshal for Oregon 1853-1855; superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon and Washington Territories 1857-1859; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1861, to March 3, 1867; unsuccessful candidate for reelection; appointed Minister to Austria, but his nomination was not confirmed; served as road supervisor of Polk County 1868; elected as a Democrat to the Forty-third Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Joseph G. Wilson and served from December 1, 1873, to March 3, 1875; did not seek renomination in 1874 to the Forty-fourth Congress; died in Rickreall, Oreg., June 17, 1885; interment in Polk County, Oreg., on the south bank of Rickreall Creek.

Bibliography

Dictionary of American Biography; Nesmith, James Willis. Two Addresses. Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1978.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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