James Gillespie Blaine

James Gillespie Blaine

West Brownsville, Washington County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 27 Jan 1893 (aged 62)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Augusta, Kennebec County, Maine, USA
Memorial ID 98 · View Source
Suggest Edits

US Congressman, US Senator, Presidential Cabinet Secretary. Born in West Brownsville, Pennsylvania, he was raised in the western part of the state and was schooled at Washington College. After graduation, he taught school and attended law school; entering the newspaper business in Maine, he edited the Kennebec Journal in 1854 and established himself as a political power. Through his newspaper he successfully urged Maine voters to abandon the Whigs and adopt the infant Republican party, for which in 1856 he served as delegate and secretary to its first national convention. He was appointed chairman of the state Republican committee and functioned as Maine's political "boss" for the next 32 years, serving consecutive terms from 1858 to 1863 in the state legislature and as speaker of the house during his last 2 years in office. His Civil War career began with his 1863 election to the United States House of Representatives. Unallied with the Radical Republicans, he, just prior to his election, adopted Abraham Lincoln's term Unionism, urging cooperation with War Democrats and others interested in the success of the Union cause. He was a strong supporter of Lincoln, but his conciliatory stance won him enemies on his own side of the aisle. After the war he urged leniency toward former Confederates and their states. Because he advocated returning the vote to disenfranchised ex-Confederates and giving it to blacks, Radical Republicans charged him with favoring "universal amnesty." This was not so, but he used publicity from the controversy to become prominent on the Congressional Committee on Military Affairs and to form an alliance with future United States President James A. Garfield. During his years in the House he served as Speaker of the House from 1869 to 1872 and later from 1873 to 1874. His constituents sent him to the United States Senate in 1876 and in 1881 he was chosen to serve as Secretary of State. The appointment outraged New York party "boss" Roscoe Conkling, leader of the conservative Stalwarts. After Garfield's death due to assassination, he agreed to remain in President Chester A. Arthur's cabinet until Congress convened. He promoted Pan-Americanism, calling for an International American Conference, and sought to ensure United States control over the proposed canal across Central America. In the interim he was involved in a railroad kickback scandal and, though becoming a rich man without visible means of support, denied his guilt. A contender for his party's presidential candidacy many times and in 1884 its standard bearer against Grover Cleveland, his tag "Blaine, the Liar from the State of Maine" kept him from the highest office. After his defeat by Cleveland, he retired to complete his two volume memoirs, Twenty Years in Congress. President-elect Benjamin Harrison appointed him to the office of Secretary of State again in 1889. He was orginally interred in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C. but was reinterred to his present gravesite in 1920. Counties in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are named in his honor.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

Family Members




How famous was James Gillespie Blaine?

Current rating:

45 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 98
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Gillespie Blaine (31 Jan 1830–27 Jan 1893), Find a Grave Memorial no. 98, citing Blaine Memorial Park, Augusta, Kennebec County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .