John Hemphill (senator)

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John Hemphill
John Hemphill.jpg
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
March 4, 1859 – July 11, 1861
Preceded by Sam Houston
Succeeded by Morgan C. Hamilton
Personal details
Born (1803-12-18)December 18, 1803
South Carolina
Died January 4, 1862(1862-01-04) (aged 58)
Richmond, Virginia
Political party Democratic

John Hemphill (December 18, 1803 – January 4, 1862) was Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and a United States Senator.

Early life[edit]

Hemphill's father, Rev. John Hemphill, emigrated to the United States from County Tyrone, Ireland. His mother, Jane Lind, was a native of Pennsylvania. Hemphill was born in South Carolina and educated at Jefferson College, graduating in 1825. Admitted to the bar in South Carolina in 1829, he moved his practice to Texas in 1838.


Hemphill served as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court for eighteen years while Texas was an independent republic and in the period of statehood before the Civil War. He was called[by whom?] the 'John Marshall' of Texas for the role he played in the development of Texan law. He became known for an incident in which he fought Indian warriors who had attacked him in a courtroom while his court was in session.

Hemphill was considered an expert on Spanish and Mexican law, and is remembered for expanding women's rights and supporting homestead rights. Hemphill replaced Sam Houston as United States Senator from Texas when Houston would not support the right of states to secede from the United States.


As Texas was one of the first seven states to secede, Hemphill was among the fourteen United States Senators expelled by congressional resolution in 1861. He was subsequently chosen as a Texas delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress, a position he held until his death in Richmond, Virginia.


Hemphill County,[1] Texas, and Hemphill, Texas, are both named in his honor.

Familial connections[edit]

John Hemphill was a cousin of Charles Hare Hemphill, Lord Hemphill through his father the Rev. John Hemphill.

Further reading[edit]

  • Timothy S. Huebner, The Southern Judicial Tradition: State Judges and Sectional Distinctiveness, 1790–1890 (1999).


  1. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 154. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Sam Houston
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Served alongside: Matthias Ward, Louis T. Wigfall
Succeeded by
vacant[note 1]
Confederate States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Representative to the Provisional Confederate Congress from Texas
Succeeded by
  1. ^ Note: Texas seceded from the Union in 1860. Seat declared vacant until Morgan C. Hamilton was elected after Texas' readmission into the Union.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.