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Wilson, James Falconer

posted on 2023-06-08, 11:41 authored by Robert Cook
Wilson, James Falconer – one of 19th-century Iowa's most able and influential politicians — was born in Newark, Ohio. The son of Methodist parents, he was a strong-willed and largely self-educated youth in the same mold as Abraham Lincoln. After his father's untimely death, Wilson was apprenticed to a local saddler at the age of 10. However, his innate ambition and considerable intellect eventually led him to study law in his spare time, and in 1852 he was admitted to the state bar. The following year he migrated westward with his new wife, Mary Jewett, settling in the small town of Fairfield, Iowa, where he began practicing as an attorney and taking an active role in politics. A former free-soil Whig, he was elected as a Republicandelegate to the 1857 state constitutional convention. His political expertise was evident throughout the debates in Iowa City, notably in his successful attempts to broker a compromise between antislavery Republicans and their more conservative counterparts over the controversial issue of black suffrage. His efforts more than justified the opinion of Burlington's powerful U.S. Senator James W. Grimesthat Wilson was a man for the future: "prudent, cautious, [and] sagacious."?


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, David Hudson, Loren Horton

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