James Thompson (jurist)

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James Thompson
Chief Justice James Thompson.jpg
Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byGeorge W. Woodward
Succeeded byJohn M. Read
Associate Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byWalter H. Lowrie
Succeeded byGeorge Sharswood
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
ConstituencyErie County
In office
Preceded byJohn Galbraith
ConstituencyVenango County and Warren County
Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byEdson B. Olds
Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
In office
Preceded byJoseph R. Ingersoll
Succeeded byJames X. McLanahan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 23rd district
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1851
Preceded byCharles M. Reed
Succeeded byCarlton B. Curtis
Judge of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Pennsylvania
In office
Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byWilliam Patterson
Succeeded byNer Middleswarth
Personal details
James Thompson

(1806-10-01)October 1, 1806
Butler County, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 28, 1874(1874-01-28) (aged 67)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mary Parker Snowden

James Thompson (October 1, 1806 – January 28, 1874) was a politician and jurist from Pennsylvania.

Thompson was born in Middlesex Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1806. After learning the printing trade, Thompson studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1829 and practiced as a lawyer in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Thompson served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1832–1834 and in 1855 and served as Speaker in 1834. He was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1838, and the presiding judge of the sixth judicial district court from 1838 until 1844, when he was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives. Thompson served in the Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Congresses, from March 4, 1845 until March 3, 1851. He was the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary during his second term. In the 31st Congress, Thompson became the first recorded Democratic Caucus Chairman and the first official chairman of any party caucus in either house of Congress.

Thompson did not run for reelection in 1850, but instead returned to practicing law. He became an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania from 1857 to 1866, and served as chief justice of that court from 1866 to 1872. He returned to private practice until his death in Philadelphia on January 28, 1874. Thompson is interred in Woodlands Cemetery.


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles M. Reed
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 23rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Carlton B. Curtis
Legal offices
Preceded by
George Washington Woodward
Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Succeeded by
John Meredith Read