Born on the Glenwood Plantation near Vicksburg in 1872, he graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1894 with a degree in law. Later that year, he was admitted to the Bar association and commenced practice in Vicksburg.
Collier's political career began in 1896, when he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. He remained in that position until 1899. From 1900 to 1909, he served as Warren County's circuit clerk.
Collier chaired the United States House Committee on Ways and Means during the 72nd Congress (1930–1932). He decided not to run for a twelfth term due to controversy over whether candidates should run at-large or by districts.
He is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg.
- COLLIER, James William at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress - Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- James William Collier - The Political Graveyard