Norman Jay Coleman

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Norman J. Colman
1st United States Secretary of Agriculture
In office
February 15, 1889 – March 6, 1889
President Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Jeremiah M. Rusk
17th Lieutenant Governor of Missouri
In office
January 12, 1875 – January 8, 1877
Governor Charles Henry Hardin
Preceded by Charles Phillip
Succeeded by Henry Clay Brockmeyer
Member of the Missouri House of Representatives
Personal details
Born Norman Jay Colman
(1827-05-16)May 16, 1827
Richfield Springs, New York, U.S.
Died November 3, 1911(1911-11-03) (aged 84)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Resting place Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Clara Porter Colman
Catherine Wright Colman
Alma mater University of Louisville
Profession Politician, Publisher

Norman Jay Colman (May 16, 1827 – November 3, 1911) was a politician, newspaper publisher, and, for 18 days, the first United States Secretary of Agriculture.

Colman was born in Richfield Springs, New York, to son of Nancy (Sprague) and Hamilton Colman. He later moved to Kentucky to become an educator. He received a law degree from the University of Louisville Law School in 1849. Colman then moved to Missouri, ostensibly to farm. He was elected as an Alderman for St. Louis city's 5th ward as a Whig in 1854 and 1855[1] In 1855 he founded the Valley Farmer newspaper. As a result of his publication, Colman became a prominent figure in Missouri farming circles, which set the path for a political career in the Missouri House of Representatives. The publication of Colman's newspaper was interrupted by the American Civil War, but three years after the war he founded the Colman's Rural World. His political career continued, culminating with his election as the 17th Lieutenant Governor of Missouri from 1875 to 1877, as Democrat.

President Grover Cleveland appointed Coleman Commissioner of Agriculture in 1885. During his tenure he led a coalition of land-grant agricultural colleges in writing proposed legislation for the creation of agricultural experiment stations. Their lobbying efforts helped produce the Hatch Act in 1887.

He also lobbied for the creation of the United States Department of Agriculture and served as its inaugural Secretary at the end of Cleveland's term, February 15, 1889 to March 6, 1889. However, his position was never confirmed by the United States Senate.[2] He returned to St. Louis to run his newspaper. He also spent the next 20 years in state public service and in horse-breeding.

Colman married Clara Porter in 1851 and had at least one child, daughter Laura Kate Colman, who was the second wife of John Fremont Hill, Governor of Maine.[3] After Clara's death he married his second wife, the former Catherine Wright in 1866 and had at least one child, daughter Clara [4]

He died on November 3, 1911 at age 84 from pneumonia, and is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.

He was a member of the Freemasons.


  1. ^ Missouri Republican (3/27/1854) (4/1/1855)
  2. ^ Grossman, 2
  3. ^ 1896 DAR Lineage book, Vol. 16, p. 293 Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  4. ^ 1901 DAR Lineage book, Vol. 37, p. 114 Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  • Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet. Vols. 1-3. (2000) ISBN 978-0-87436-977-9.
  • Leonard, John W. (comp) The Books of St. Louisans St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Republic (1906) pp. 127–128.
  • Marquis, Albert N. (comp) Who's Who in America Chicago, IL: Marquis and co. vol. 6 (1910–1911) p. 399.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles P. Johnson
Lieutenant Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Henry C. Brockmeyer
Preceded by
New office
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Served under: Grover Cleveland

February 15, 1889 – March 6, 1889
Succeeded by
Jeremiah M. Rusk