James Montgomery Rice

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James Montgomery Rice

Juris Doctor
James Montgomery Rice.jpg
Member of the
Illinois House of Representatives
In office
January 4, 1871 – March 14, 1872
Preceded byUnknown
Succeeded byUnknown
ConstituencyPeoria County
Member of the
Presbyterian General Assembly
In office
Preceded byUnknown
Succeeded byUnknown
Personal details
BornMarch 8, 1842
Monmouth, Illinois
DiedApril 11, 1912
Peoria, Illinois
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Eliza Rice (m. 1871)
EducationUniversity of Michigan (BA)
Alma materMichigan Law (JD)
Military service
Years of service
  • 1861-1864
  • 1875-1896
CommandsSecond Brigade
Battles/wars1877 St. Louis Strike

American Civil War

Atlanta Campaign

James Montgomery Rice (March 8, 1842 - April 11, 1912) was an American soldier,[1][2] lawyer, and public servant[3] who contributed to the establishment of the United States National Guard.

Rice was born in Monmouth, Illinois to George and Caroline (née Montgomery) Rice. He was named after his 2nd great-grandfather, William Montgomery, whose military and political service was a major influence on his life. Following the First Battle of Bull Run, Rice dropped-out of Monmouth College and enlisted in the 10th Illinois Infantry Regiment. After 3 years of continuous service, which covered 1,000 marched miles and 13 battles, he completed a bachelor degree at the University of Michigan followed by juris doctor at Michigan Law. Following graduation, he went into practice with David McCulloch and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1867, followed by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1890. He practiced law for 31 years.

In 1875, Rice re-enlisted in the National Blues of the Illinois Militia.[4] Recalling his experience in the American Civil War, Rice was concerned with the organizational structure, lack of standardization in leader qualifications and professional development, low levels of individual and unit training and readiness, and inadequate uniforms and equipment. He began advocating for federal involvement and became the first Chairman of the Committee on Legislation of the National Guard Association of Illinois in 1883. He authored dozens of articles over the ensuing years including "Our National Military System, Military Education and the Volunteer Militia"[5] in 1888 which was circulated nationwide and caught the attention of the National Guard Association of the United States. He joined the executive staff in 1890 alongside Charles Dick who would become president in 1902 and sponsor the Militia Act of 1903, officially establishing the United States National Guard. In 1892, Rice authored the "Range Manual and Score Record" and "Small Arms Practice for National Guard", which is adopted nationwide.

During the golden age of fraternalism, Rice assisted in organizing the Grand Army of the Republic Bryner Post #67 in Peoria, Illinois. In 1879 he was nominated the first adjutant and served on the national staff from 1894-96. In 1896 his mother, Caroline, established the Peoria chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, honoring her great-grandfather WIlliam Montgomery.[6]

In 1897, Rice was endorsed by the Illinois Republican Party and National Guard Association of the United States for United States Assistant Secretary of War, however George de Rue Meiklejohn won the nomination.

In 1901, Rice authored the "Peoria Overture Plan" which profoundly effected corruption and reorganization of the Presbyterian Church.[7]


  1. ^ "Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Detail Report". Illinois State Archives.
  2. ^ "The Civil War, Soldier Details". National Park Service.
  3. ^ McCulloch, David (1902). Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Volume II. https://ia800208.us.archive.org/7/items/cu31924092225568/cu31924092225568.pdf: Munsell Publishing Company. pp. 1036–1037 (618–619).
  4. ^ Lusk, D.W. (1877). Biannual Report of the Adjutant-General of Illinois for 1875-1876. https://books.google.com/books?id=949LAQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA14&dq=%22national%20blues%22%20%2B%20%22james%20m%20rice%22&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q=%22national%20blues%22%20+%20%22james%20m%20rice%22&f=false: State Printer and Binder. p. 14.
  5. ^ "Our National Military System, Military Education and the Volunteer Militia". The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. XXXVI: 939–943.
  6. ^ Rice, James Montgomery (1912). Peoria City and County Illinois, Volume 1. https://ia800204.us.archive.org/16/items/peoriacitycountyi01rice/peoriacitycountyi01rice.pdf: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. pp. 575 (434).
  7. ^ "Peoria Man Will Try His Overture on State Legislature". The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois). August 1, 1901.