James T. Lewis

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James Taylor Lewis
James T. Lewis Cropped.jpg
9th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 4, 1864 – January 1, 1866
LieutenantWyman Spooner
Preceded byEdward Salomon
Succeeded byLucius Fairchild
4th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 2, 1854 – January 7, 1856
GovernorWilliam Barstow
Preceded byTimothy Burns
Succeeded byArthur MacArthur, Sr
7th Secretary of State of Wisconsin
In office
January 6, 1862 – January 5, 1864
GovernorLouis P. Harvey
Edward Salomon
Preceded byLouis Harvey
Succeeded byLucius Fairchild
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 25th district
In office
January 12, 1853 – January 2, 1854
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byJohn Q. Adams
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the Columbia district
In office
January 14, 1852 – January 12, 1853
Preceded byWilliam T. Bradley
Succeeded byOrrin D. Coleman
Personal details
James Taylor Lewis

(1819-10-30)October 30, 1819
Clarendon, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 5, 1904(1904-08-05) (aged 84)
Columbus, Wisconsin, U.S.
Resting placeHillside Cemetery
Columbus, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican
Democratic (before 1861)
Spouse(s)Orlina M. Sturgis Lewis
ChildrenSeldon James Lewis
(b. 1850; died 1912)
Charles R. Lewis
(b. 1854; died 1922)
MotherEleanor (Robertson) Lewis
FatherShubael Lewis
Professionlawyer, politician

James Taylor Lewis (October 30, 1819 – August 5, 1904) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 9th Governor of Wisconsin.[1]

Early life[edit]

Lewis was born in Clarendon in Orleans County, New York, the third son of Shubael Lewis, a farmer and colonel in the New York State militia after the War of 1812, and Eleanor Lewis (née Robertson). He had three brothers, William L. Lewis, Shubael R. Lewis, and Hiram W Lewis.[2]


He taught school briefly in the district schools around Clarkson. In 1842, he began the study of law with former New York lieutenant governor Henry R. Selden.[2] In 1845 he moved to what is now Columbus, Wisconsin, where he was admitted to the bar.

Between 1846 and 1852, Lewis held the positions of district attorney and county judge and was elected to terms in both the Wisconsin State Assembly and the State Senate. He was also a member or the Wisconsin Constitutional Convention of 1847–1848, representing Columbia County. Lewis was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Columbus (Columbia Lodge #40)[citation needed] and served as Noble Grand of the Lodge in 1851. He also served as the fourth Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin from 1854 to 1856, Wisconsin secretary of state from 1862 to 1864.

Nominated by the Union Republicans for governor, Lewis was elected and served as Governor of Wisconsin from January 6, 1864 until January 5, 1866. He was the last Wisconsin governor to hold the office during the Civil War.[3] and was concerned during his tenure with providing sufficient troops for the Civil War and helping to protect them and their dependents. He visited troops in the field and helped establish hospitals in Wisconsin for the care of the wounded. Refusing renomination in 1865, he was offered a diplomatic post by President Lincoln, but chose instead to return to his law practice in Columbus.

Death and legacy[edit]

Lewis died in Columbus, Wisconsin, on August 4, 1904. He is interred at Hillside Cemetery, Columbus, Columbia County, Wisconsin. His former home, now known as the Gov. James T. Lewis House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

Family life[edit]

Lewis married Orlina M. Sturgis and they had four children.


  • Sobel, Robert; Raimo, John W. (1978). Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978, Volume IV (illustrated ed.). Meckler Books. ISBN 978-0-930-46604-6.
  • White, James Terry (1904). The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume XII. J.T. White.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Timothy Burns
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Arthur MacArthur, Sr.
Preceded by
Louis Harvey
Secretary of State of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Lucius Fairchild
Preceded by
Edward Salomon
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Lucius Fairchild