JAMES ADDAMS BEAVER was born in Millerstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Jefferson College in 1856, studied law, and was admitted to the Center County Bar in January 1859. He entered the 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in 1861 as a First Lieutenant, winning promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel, Colonel, and then Brigadier-General. Wounded in battle numerous times, he lost one leg. In 1867 Governor John W. Geary commissioned him Major-General of the 5th Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard, a position in which he served until 1887. He ran for governor in 1882 on the Republican ticket but was defeated by his Democratic opponent. However, he entered the race for governor again four years later, this time successfully. Beaver’s gubernatorial administration improved Pennsylvania’s roads and educational institutions and reduced the state’s debt. Beaver advocated temperance legislation and supported establishing and improving the state’s uses of forests and waterways. He also provided rapid relief to the victims of the devastating Johnstown flood of 1889. After leaving office, he became President of the Blubacker Coal Company in Cambria County and served as a judge of the First Superior Court of Pennsylvania from 1895 until his death in 1914.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 2. New York: James T. White & Company.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
State Archives Holdings: MG-389 James A. Beaver Papers