William S. James

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William S. James (February 14, 1914 – April 17, 1993), called Bill or Billy James by contemporaries,[1][2] was a politician from the U.S. state of Maryland. James was first elected to office as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing Harford County in 1946, and after serving two terms was elected to the Maryland Senate in 1954. He would serve in the Senate for a further two decades, from 1963 onwards as President of the Maryland Senate. Following his retirement from the state Senate in 1974, James was appointed State Treasurer, a position he would hold from 1975 through 1987. His daughter, Mary-Dulany James, was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 34A in Cecil and Harford Counties from 1999 until 2015.


William S. James was born the son of E. Roy James and Mary S. James in Aberdeen, Maryland on February 14, 1914. His primary education was diverse; he attended public schools in Cecil and Harford Counties before matriculating at the Tome School, a private coeducational college preparatory school in Port Deposit.[3][4] He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware and, in 1937, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, entering the Maryland Bar the same year. James immediately established a law practice in Bel Air, and would continue to practice law there until 1975.[3]

He quickly rose to prominence in the legal community, and served as a trial magistrate in Havre de Grace from 1944 to 1946, a position he left when he won election to the Maryland House of Delegates representing Harford County. Following two terms in the House, he was elected in 1954 to represent Harford County in the Maryland Senate. In January of that same year, he married Margaret Higinbothom with whom he would have a son, Robert Roy, and a daughter, Mary-Dulany.[3]

In 1963, James was elected by his fellow Senators to serve as President of the Maryland Senate, a position he would hold for more than a decade.[3] This would lead to other prominent positions in state politics. He was the Second Vice-President of the 1967 Constitutional Convention, became Chairman of the Commission to Revise the Annotated Code of Maryland in 1970, and in 1971 became Chairperson of the Maryland Democratic Party.[3] During his long career in the Senate, James was recognized for a number of major legislative accomplishments. He helped establish the community college system in Maryland, the Maryland Environmental Trust, and the Maryland Historical trust, and his work led to the creation of Program Open Space, a program in which real estate taxes are used to purchase parkland.[2]

His retirement from the Senate in 1974 did not mark his exit from state politics, as the next year he was appointed by the Senate as State Treasurer, a position to which he would be reelected in 1979 and 1983.[3] Governor William Donald Schaefer, who opposed James' reappointment as State Treasurer, was successful in having the Senate appoint Lucille Maurer in his place.[1] As a result, James retired from politics, and died six years later in April 1993.[3] He was remembered by commentators for his dedication to public service and his civility.[1] His daughter Mary-Dulany James, who also became a lawyer, was elected to represent district 34A in Cecil and Harford Counties in 1999.[5] William S. James Elementary School in Harford County and the William S. James Senate Office Building in Annapolis were named in his honor even before his death.[2][6]


  1. ^ a b c Rascovar, Barry (April 25, 1993). "A Civility and Selflessness that Are Missed WILLIAM S. JAMES". Baltimore Sun. pp. 3C. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  2. ^ a b c "William S. James". The Baltimore Sun. April 19, 1993. pp. 10A. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "William S. James". Biographical Series. Archives of Maryland. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  4. ^ "Welcome to Tome School". Tome School. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  5. ^ "Mary-Dulany James". House of Delegates. Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  6. ^ "About William S. James Elementary". Harford County Public Schools. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
Political offices
Preceded by
J. Millard Tawes
Treasurer of Maryland
Succeeded by
Lucille Maurer