Summary

Conflict Period:
Spanish-American War 1
Birth:
18 May 1863 1
Danville, Virginia 1
Death:
09 Apr 1939 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
James Hamilton Lewis 1
Birth:
18 May 1863 1
Danville, Virginia 1
Death:
09 Apr 1939 1
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Spanish-American War 1

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  1. Contributed by bruceyrock632
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Biography of James Hamilton Lewis  

James Hamilton Lewis served the state of Washington in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the state of Illinois in the U.S. Senate. Born in Danville, Virginia, Lewis spent most of his youth in Georgia. In 1885, however, he left the South and moved to Seattle, where he established a law practice and became active in territorial politics. After Washington's admission to the Union, Lewis was elected in 1896 to the U.S. House of Representatives. There he argued for recognition of Cuba's independence and for the establishment of the Mount Rainier area as a national park.

After losing both his congressional seat in 1898 and a subsequent bid for the U.S. Senate, Lewis moved to Chicago, where he once again became active in Democratic politics. In 1913 he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois, the last senator chosen by that state legislature before the ratification of the 17th Amendment, which provided for the direct election of senators. Lewis became the first Democratic whip of the Senate. He was defeated at the end of his first term but won another term in 1930 and was reelected in 1936. Lewis resumed his role as party whip during his second and third terms. He was an authority on the U.S. Constitution and on foreign affairs, and a skillful legislative tactician. Lewis stood out among his contemporaries for his eloquent oratory and courtly manner. He died in office; his funeral service was held in the Senate Chamber.

LEWIS, James Hamilton, a Representative from Washington and a Senator from Illinois; born in Danville, Pittsylvania County, Va., May 18, 1863; moved with his parents to Augusta, Ga., in 1866; attended Houghton school in that city and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville; studied law in Savannah, Ga.; admitted to the bar in 1882; moved to the Territory of Washington in 1885 and commenced the practice of law in Seattle; member, Washington Territorial legislature 1887-1888; elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1897-March 3, 1899); unsuccessful candidate in 1898 for reelection; served during the Spanish-American War as inspector general with rank of colonel in Puerto Rico; unsuccessful Democratic candidate for United States Senator in 1899; moved to Chicago, Ill. in 1903 and resumed the practice of law; corporation counsel for Chicago 1905-1907; unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1908; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 26, 1913, to March 3, 1919; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1918; Democratic whip 1913-1919; chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of State (Sixty-fourth and Sixty-fifth Congresses); unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois in 1920; practiced international law; again elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1930; reelected in 1936 and served from March 4, 1931, until his death in Washington, D.C., April 9, 1939; Democratic whip 1933-1939; chairman, Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments (Seventy-third through Seventy-sixth Congresses); funeral services were held in the Chamber of the United States Senate; original interment in the Abbey Mausoleum, adjoining Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.; remains removed and reinterred in unknown location.

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