James P. Aylward

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James P. Aylward (1885-1982) was a Missouri attorney and Democratic party leader, strongly influencing democratic politics in Missouri for much of the first half of the century.

Brief Biography[edit]

James P. Aylward was born in Peoria, Illinois on September 10, 1885[1] to Irish immigrants. When he was about six months old, his family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri where his 12 brothers and sisters were born. His left school after fifth grade and began to take on a variety of jobs: newspaper carrier, Western Union delivery boy, office boy. In 1899, he came to work for a prominent Kansas City Attorney, Frank P. Walsh. Walsh inspired Brother Aylward’s interest in both the law and in Democratic Missouri politics.[2]

He began the study of law in that law office, and eventually went to night school at the Kansas City School of Law which is now the University of Missouri at Kansas City where he was initiated into the Benton Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. He was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1908, and became partners with longtime mentor Frank Walsh. He continued his involvement in Missouri politics as well as on the Phi Alpha Delta National Scene, and added “Adjunct Professor” to his resume, lecturing on insurance law at the Kansas City School of Law.

By this time, Brother Aylward’s political involvement in Missouri had begun to consume his time. From 1918 to 1936, he served as Jackson County Democratic Committee Chairman. In 1934, he persuaded Harry S. Truman to run for the United States Senate and served as his Campaign Manager. Success on the Truman campaign, helped Brother Aylward take over as State Chair of the Missouri Democratic Party from 1934 to 1938 and serve as a member of Democratic National Committee for Missouri from 1934-1942. In 1936, he had the honor of seconding the nomination for Franklin D. Roosevelt as Democratic Candidate for the Presidency of the United States.[2]


Roman Catholic Church[3]
Democratic Party (United States)[4]
Jackson County, MO Democratic Committee Chairman 1918-1936
Missouri Democratic State Chair 1934-1938
Democratic National Committee for Missouri 1934-1942
Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity[3]
Member, Benton Chapter
Supreme Treasurer, 1910-1912
Supreme First Vice Justice, 1912-1913
Supreme Justice, 1913-1914
Tribune, 1914-1919


  1. ^ Political Graveyard Website
  2. ^ a b See, James R. Fuchs, “Oral History Interview with James P. Aylward” June 12, 1968. Oral History of Aylward Available Online at Truman Presidential Library
  3. ^ a b See, Political Graveyard Website
  4. ^ “Historical News and Comments”, The Journal of American History, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jun., 1969), pp. 202-211.

External links[edit]