James W. Grimes, Governor, U.S. Senator

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James Wilson Grimes

Birthplace: Deering, New Hampshire
Death: February 07, 1872 (55) (heart disease)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Grimes and Elizabeth Grimes

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About James W. Grimes, Governor, U.S. Senator


James Wilson Grimes (October 20, 1816 – February 7, 1872) was an American politician, serving as the third Governor of Iowa and a United States Senator from Iowa.


Born in Deering, New Hampshire, Grimes graduated from Hampton Academy and attended Dartmouth College. He studied law, moved west and commenced practice in a settlement in 'Black Hawk Purchase', Wisconsin Territory, that was later incorporated as Burlington, Iowa. He also farmed. Grimes served as a member of the Iowa Territorial House of Representatives for 1838 – 1839 and 1843 – 1844 terms. He served as Governor of Iowa from 1854 to 1858. While elected as a Whig in 1854, he was a guiding light in the Republican Party's establishment in Iowa in 1855 and 1856.

U.S. Senate

Grimes was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 1859 and reelected in 1865. He served in the Senate from March 4, 1859, until December 6, 1869, when he resigned due to ill health.

In the Senate, he served as chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia (in the 37th and 38th Congresses), and the Committee on Naval Affairs (in the 39th through 41st Congresses). He also served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In 1861 Grimes was a member of the peace convention held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending Civil War.

During President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, Grimes broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators and voted for acquittal. These seven Republican senators were disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence.

Senators William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle, and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote, defied their party and public opinion and voted against impeachment.

Grimes died in Burlington on February 7, 1872, aged 55. He is buried in the Aspen Grove cemetery, in Burlington.

The plot of land that his home was once located on is now home to an elementary school that bears his name.

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James W. Grimes, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

October 20, 1816
Deering, New Hampshire
February 7, 1872
Age 55