James Speed, U.S. Attorney General

How are you related to James Speed, U.S. Attorney General?

Connect to the World Family Tree to find out

James Speed, U.S. Attorney General's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

James Speed

Birthplace: Louisville, Jefferson, KY, United States
Death: June 25, 1887 (75)
Louisville, Jefferson, KY, United States
Place of Burial: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Judge John Speed and Lucy Gilmer Speed
Husband of Jane Speed
Father of John Speed, Sr.; Henry Pirtle Speed; Charles Speed; James Breckenridge Speed; James Fry Speed, Jr. and 1 other
Brother of Thomas Speed; Peachy Walker Peay; Joshua Fry Speed; Susan Fry Davis; Martha Bell Adams and 5 others
Half brother of James Speed; Mary Speed and Eliza Speed

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About James Speed, U.S. Attorney General

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Speed ; findagrave... ;

James Speed (March 11, 1812 – June 25, 1887) was an American lawyer, politician and professor.

Speed was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, to Judge John Speed and his second wife Lucy Gilmer Fry. He graduated from St. Joseph's College in Bardstown, Kentucky, studied law at Transylvania University and was admitted to the bar at Louisville, in 1833. He joined the Whig Party and became a strong opponent of slavery.


In 1847 Speed was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives. At this early point in his career, Speed was already agitating for the emancipation of American slaves. Because of these views, his candidacy for becoming a delegate to the 1849 Kentucky Constitutional Convention was rejected. From 1851 to 1854, Speed served on the Louisville Board of Aldermen, including two years as its president. He taught as a professor in the Law Department of the University of Louisville from 1856 to 1858, and would later return to teach from 1872 to 1879.

Civil War era

As the coming Civil War was increasing in likelihood, Speed worked to keep Kentucky in the Union. He also became a commander of the Louisville Home Guard. Elected to the Kentucky Senate in 1861 he became the leader of the pro-Union forces. In 1862 he controversially introduced a bill to "confiscate the property" of those supporting the Confederacy in Kentucky.

In December 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Speed Attorney General of the United States. After the assassination of Lincoln he became associated with the Radical Republicans and advocated the vote for male African Americans. Disillusioned with the increasingly conservative policies of President Andrew Johnson, Speed resigned from the Cabinet in July 1866 and resumed the practice of law.

After representation

Speed's radical views were unpopular in Kentucky and his attempt to be elected to the Senate in 1867 ended in failure. In 1868, Speed was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Vice President of the United States but lost it to Schuyler Colfax.

Speed was a delegate to the National Union Convention in Philadelphia in 1866 and served as president of the Convention. He was a candidate for U.S. Representative from Kentucky's 5th District in 1870, and was a delegate to Republican National Convention from Kentucky in 1872. He died in Louisville in 1887, and is interred at Cave Hill Cemetery in that city.

He was the father of James Breckenridge Speed and brother of Joshua Fry Speed, as well as a distant descendant of the English cartographer John Speed.

view all

James Speed, U.S. Attorney General's Timeline

March 11, 1812
Louisville, Jefferson, KY, United States
August 20, 1842
Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
August 3, 1848
Louisville, Jefferson, KY, United States
Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
November 28, 1852
Jefferson County, Kentucky, United States
January 18, 1855
June 25, 1887
Age 75
Louisville, Jefferson, KY, United States
Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA