James W. Grimes
|James Wilson Grimes|
|United States Senator
March 4, 1859 – December 6, 1869
|Preceded by||George W. Jones|
|Succeeded by||James B. Howell|
October 20, 1816|
Deering, New Hampshire
|Died||February 7, 1872
|Political party||Whig, Republican|
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College|
Born in Deering, New Hampshire, Grimes graduated from Hampton Academy and attended Dartmouth College. He studied law, moved west and commenced practice in a settlement in 'Black Hawk Purchase', Wisconsin Territory, that was later incorporated as Burlington, Iowa. He also farmed. Grimes served as a member of the Iowa Territorial House of Representatives for 1838 – 1839 and 1843 – 1844 terms. He served as Governor of Iowa from 1854 to 1858. While elected as a Whig in 1854, he was a guiding light in the Republican Party's establishment in Iowa in 1855 and 1856.
Grimes was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 1859 and reelected in 1865. He served in the Senate from March 4, 1859, until December 6, 1869, when he resigned due to ill health.
In the Senate, he served as chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia (in the 37th and 38th Congresses), and the Committee on Naval Affairs (in the 39th through 41st Congresses). He also served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In 1861 Grimes was a member of the peace convention held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending Civil War. In December of 1861, he introduced the senate bill which led to the creation of the Medal of Honor (initially only for Navy and Marine personnel).
During President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, Grimes broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators and voted for acquittal. These seven Republican senators were disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence.
Senators William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle, and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote, defied their party and public opinion and voted against impeachment. After the trial, Ben Butler conducted hearings on the widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson's acquittal. In Butler's hearings, and in subsequent inquiries, there was increasing evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards.
Grimes died in Burlington on February 7, 1872, aged 55. He is buried in the Aspen Grove cemetery, in Burlington.
The plot of land that his home was once located on is now home to an elementary school that bears his name.
The town of Grimes, IA is named for James W. Grimes.
- Cyrenus Cole, "A History of the People of Iowa," p. 310-12 (Torch Press 1921).
- "Andrew Johnson Trial: The Consciences of Seven Republicans Save Johnson".
- "The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868".
- David O. Stewart, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy (2009), pp. 240-249, 284-299.
- James W. Grimes at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Includes Guide to Research Collections where his papers are located.
- Brief bio of James Grimes from Spartacus Educational.
Stephen P. Hempstead
|Governor of Iowa
Ralph P. Lowe
|United States Senate|
George W. Jones
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Iowa
March 4, 1859 – December 6, 1869
Served alongside: James Harlan, Samuel J. Kirkwood and James Harlan
James B. Howell