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Grimes, James Wilson

posted on 2023-06-08, 11:41 authored by Robert Cook
Grimes, James Wilson – Iowa's leading Civil War-era politician — was born in Deering, New Hampshire. The scion of a prosperous yeoman farming family, he was relatively well educated at Hampton Academy and prestigious Dartmouth College. Despite his sharp intellect, a penchant for works of fiction and history, and a youthful embrace of evangelical Protestantism, he was not a diligent student and left Dartmouth in 1835 without graduating. Confronted with limited career prospects at home, he joined the Yankee diaspora in the West. By the spring of 1836 he had taken up residence in Burlington, Iowa, a small but typically ambitious settlement on the Mississippi River that would be his home for the rest of his life. Equipped with a critical mind, a retentive memory, and an innate self-confidence, he established a reputation for himself as a talented and sagacious lawyer, entering into partnership with Henry W. Starr in 1841. As the local economy began to expand, the practice proved to be a lucrative one. Along with heavy speculative investments in land and tax liens, it provided the imposing young man with a sound financial base on which to build a successful political career in the new state of Iowa.


Publication status

  • Published


University of Iowa Press

Page range




Book title

The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

Place of publication

Iowa City



Department affiliated with

  • American Studies Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Marvin Bergman, Loren Horton, David Hudson

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