James Hay (politician)

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James Hay
James Hay.jpg
James Hay in 1910
Judge of the Court of Claims
In office
July 17, 1916 – December 1, 1927
Appointed by Woodrow Wilson
Preceded by George Wesley Atkinson
Succeeded by Samuel Estill Whitaker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1897 – October 1, 1916
Preceded by Smith S. Turner
Succeeded by Thomas W. Harrison
Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs
In office
March 4, 1911 – October 1, 1916
Preceded by John A. T. Hull
Succeeded by Stanley Dent, Jr.
Member of the Virginia Senate from Culpeper, Rappahannock, Madison and Orange Counties
In office
Preceded by Basil Gordon
Succeeded by J. L. Jeffries
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Greene and Madison Counties
In office
Preceded by Thomas Chapman
Succeeded by John Utz
Personal details
Born (1856-01-09)January 9, 1856
Millwood, Virginia
Died June 12, 1931(1931-06-12) (aged 75)
Madison, Virginia
Resting place Cedar Hill Cemetery, Rapidan, Virginia
Political party Democratic

Constance Tatum (1878 – 1886) (her death)
Frances Gordon (1891 – 1920) (her death)

Eloise M Cave (unknown – unknown) (his death)
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Washington and Lee University
Occupation Lawyer, politician

James Hay (January 9, 1856 – June 12, 1931) was an American politician from Virginia. He was a member of the United States Congress and a judge on the United States Court of Claims.


Born in Millwood, Virginia, Clarke County, Hay attended private schools and the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. He was graduated from the law department of Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, in 1877 and was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1877, where he also taught school for a time. Hay married Constance Tatum of Dayton, Virginia on October 1, 1878, and had two sons.

He moved to Madison, Virginia in June 1879 and continued the practice of law.

Hay was Commonwealth's Attorney from 1883 to 1896 and member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1885 to 1889. Hay's first wife died in 1886. On June 9, 1891 he married Frances Gordon of Richmond, Virginia and they had two daughters. Hay served in the Senate of Virginia from 1893 to 1897; was a member of the Democratic State committee in 1888; and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1888.

Hay was elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-fifth and to the nine succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1897, until his resignation on October 1, 1916. In Congress he was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs (Sixty-second through Sixty-fourth congresses), in which capacity he was involved in the "Preparedness Movement" of 1915–16, and in response to which he drafted and pushed through the National Defense Act of 1916.

Following his resignation from Congress, he was appointed judge of the United States Court of Claims by President Woodrow Wilson on July 15, 1916. Hay's second wife died in 1920. On June 14, 1921 he married his secretary, Eloise M. Cave, of Madison, Virginia. Hay served at the court until December 1, 1927, when he resigned. He died in Madison, Virginia, and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Rapidan, Virginia.

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1896; Hay was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 55.81% of the vote, defeating Republican Robert J. Walker, NtD (?) J. Samuel Harrisberger, and Independent John F. Forsyth.
  • 1898; Hay was re-elected with 77.05% of the vote, defeating SilD (?) D.C. O'Flaherty.
  • 1900; Hay was re-elected with 63.35% of the vote, defeating Republican C.M. Gibbens.
  • 1902; Hay was re-elected with 64.68% of the vote, defeating Republican Samuel J. Hoffman.
  • 1904; Hay was re-elected with 64.65% of the vote, defeating Republican Charles M. Kelzel.
  • 1906; Hay was re-elected unopposed.
  • 1908; Hay was re-elected with 62.85% of the vote, defeating Republican L. Pritchard.
  • 1910; Hay was re-elected with 57.96% of the vote, defeating Republican John Paul and Independent Hugh S. Lupton.
  • 1912; Hay was re-elected with 71.54% of the vote, defeating Republican George N. Earman and Independent E.C. Garrison.
  • 1914; Hay was re-elected with 86.96% of the vote, defeating Republican E.C. Garrison.

Sources and external links[edit]

  • Herring, George C., Jr. “James Hay and the Preparedness Controversy, 1915-1916.” Journal of Southern History 30 (November 1964): 383-404.
  • James Hay at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • The United States Court of Claims : a history / pt. 1. The judges, 1855-1976 / by Marion T. Bennett / pt. 2. Origin, development, jurisdiction, 1855-1978 / W. Cowen, P. Nichols, M.T. Bennett. Washington, D.C.: Committee on the Bicentennial of Independence and the Constitution of the Judicial Conference of the United States. 1976. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
George Wesley Atkinson
Judge of the Court of Claims
Succeeded by
Samuel Estill Whitaker
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Smith S. Turner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas W. Harrison