About John Holmes
John Holmes (March 14, 1773 – July 7, 1843) was an American politician. Holmes, a National Republican, served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and was one of the first two U.S. Senators from Maine. Holmes was noted for his involvement in the Treaty of Ghent.
Early life and education
Holmes was born in Kingston, Massachusetts. He attended public schools in Kingston and in 1796 graduated from the College of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the former name of Brown University) in Providence, Rhode Island. Later, Holmes studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1799, opening a law practice in Alfred, Maine — then a district of Massachusetts. At this time, he was also engaged in literary pursuits.
The political career of Holmes began when he was elected to the Massachusetts General Court in 1802, 1803, and 1812, and was subsequently elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1813 and 1814. In 1816, Holmes was one of the commissioners under the Treaty of Ghent to divide the islands of Passamaquoddy Bay between the United States and Great Britain. He was also appointed by the legislature to organize state prisons and revise the Massachusetts criminal code.
Holmes was elected as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts in 1816, serving from March 4, 1817, to his resignation on March 15, 1820. During the 16th Congress, Holmes served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of State. Holmes was a backer of William H. Crawford (a "Crawford Republican") and John Quincy Adams, and was opposed to Andrew Jackson (an "Anti-Jackson").
Holmes supported the Missouri Compromise, and was thanked for this by Thomas Jefferson, as per letter at right. In the letter, Jefferson thanks Holmes for a copy of his pamphlet, Mr. Holmes's Letter to the People of Maine. This pamphlet defends Holmes' position on supporting the Missouri Compromise–the admission of Maine as a free state with the admission of Missouri as a slave state, which was unpopular position in Maine. This letter is also notable for being the first written attestation of the phrase "to have the wolf by the ear".
Holmes was later a delegate to the Maine Constitutional Convention. Upon separation from Massachusetts and the admission of the Maine as a state, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from June 13, 1820, to March 3, 1827. Holmes was again elected to the Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Albion K. Parris, serving from January 15, 1829, to March 3, 1833. During the 17th Congress, Holmes served as chairman of the Committee on Finance (1821–1822); during the 21st Congress, Holmes was chairman of the Committee on Pensions.
After leaving the U.S. Senate, Holmes resumed his law practice. From 1836 to 1837, he was a member of the Maine House of Representatives. In 1841, Holmes was appointed as the United States Attorney for the District of Maine, a post he held until his death in Portland on July 7, 1843. Holmes was interred in a private tomb of Cotton Brooks, Eastern Cemetery.
In 1840, Holmes published The Statesman, Or Principles of Legislation and Law, a law book.