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James Wilson Grimes

Gov. James Wilson Grimes

  • December 9, 1854 - January 13, 1858
  • Whig
  • October 20, 1816
  • February 7, 1872
  • New Hampshire
  • Dartmouth College
  • Married Elizabeth Sarah Nealley
  • Senator


JAMES WILSON GRIMES, Iowa’s third governor, was born in Deering, New Hampshire, on October 20, 1816. He was educated at the Hampton Academy and at Dartmouth College. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1836, and established a successful legal career in Burlington, Iowa. Grimes entered public service in 1836, serving as the secretary to the Indian Commission at Rock Island, Iowa. He also served as a member of the Iowa Territorial House of Representatives from 1838 to 1839 and again from 1843 to 1844, and was a member of the Iowa General Assembly from 1852 to 1854. Grimes won the 1854 Whig gubernatorial nomination and was sworn into office on December 9, 1854. During his tenure, a hospital for the insane was established at Mt. Pleasant, the capital was moved to Des Moines, a new constitution was created in 1857, and new laws were endorsed that benefited banks, businesses, and schools. Also, the state historical society was provided for, as well as libraries, state colleges and universities, and federal grant money was secured for railroad construction. After leaving office on January 13, 1858, Grimes was elected to the U.S. Senate, serving from 1859 until 1869, when he resigned due to failing health. Governor James W. Grimes died on February 7, 1872, and was buried at the Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington, Iowa.



Annals of Iowa, 38 (1956): 445-49.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Historical for Muscatine County Iowa

Salter, William. Life of James W Grimes, Governor of Iowa, 1854-1858: A Senator of the United States, 1859-1869. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1876.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn., Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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