James Earl Major
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Born in Donnellson, Illinois, Major attended the common and high schools of his native city.
He was graduated from Brown's Business College in 1907 and from the Illinois College of Law at Chicago in 1909. He was admitted to the bar in 1910 and commenced the practice of law in Hillsboro, Illinois in 1912. He served as prosecuting attorney of Montgomery County, Illinois from 1912 to 1920.
Major was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-eighth Congress, serving from March 4, 1923 to March 3, 1925. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1924 to the Sixty-ninth Congress. He resumed the practice of the legal profession in Hillsboro, Illinois, until he was elected to the Seventieth Congress, serving from March 4, 1927 to March 3, 1929. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1928 to the Seventy-first Congress, but was elected to the Seventy-second Congress, and to the Seventy-third Congress and served from March 4, 1931, until his resignation October 6, 1933, having been appointed to the bench. During his final term, he was one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1933 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against Harold Louderback, judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
On June 12, 1933, Major received a recess appointment from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois vacated by Louis FitzHenry. Formally nominated on January 8, 1934, Major was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 23, 1934, and received his commission on January 26, 1934.
On March 9, 1937, Roosevelt nominated Major for elevation to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit also vacated by Louis FitzHenry. Major was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 17, 1937, and received his commission on March 23, 1937. He served as chief judge from 1948 to 1954, assuming senior status on March 23, 1956. He thereafter served part time as senior judge on the Court of Appeals and various United States district courts.
He resided in Hillsboro, Illinois, until his death there on January 4, 1972. He was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery.
- James Earl Major at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- James Earl Major at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center. This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- James Earl Major Historical Society of Montgomery County Illinois