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James Rood Doolittle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Honorable
James Rood Doolittle
James rood doolittle.jpg
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1869
Preceded byHenry Dodge
Succeeded byMatthew H. Carpenter
Chairman of the
Senate Indian Affairs Committee
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 4, 1867
Preceded byWilliam K. Sebastian
Succeeded byJohn B. Henderson
President of the Chicago Board of Education
In office
Preceded byAdolf Kraus[1]
Succeeded byAdolf Kraus[1]
Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge
for the 1st Circuit
In office
October 1853 – March 1856
Preceded byWyman Spooner
Succeeded byCharles Minton Baker
Personal details
Born(1815-01-03)January 3, 1815
Hampton, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 1897(1897-07-27) (aged 82)
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Resting placeMound Cemetery
Racine, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican (1850-1871)
Spouse(s)Mary Lovina (Cutting) Doolittle (died 1879)
ChildrenHenry J. Doolittle
(b.1839; died 1862)
Anson O. Doolittle
(b.1841; died 1913)
James R. Doolittle
(b.1845; died 1889)
Silas Wright Doolittle
(b.1847; died 1876)
Mary Myraetta Doolittle (Burge)
(b.1849; died 1913)
Sarah Doolittle (Prindle)
(b.1852; died 1911)
  • Reuben Doolittle (father)
  • Sarah R. (Rood) Doolittle (mother)
Alma materHobart College
ProfessionPolitician, lawyer

James Rood Doolittle (January 3, 1815 – July 27, 1897) was an American politician who served as a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin from March 4, 1857, to March 4, 1869. He was a strong supporter of President Abraham Lincoln's administration during the American Civil War.[2][3]

Early life

Born in Hampton, New York, Doolittle was the son of Reuben Doolittle and Sarah Rood. He attended Middlebury Academy in Wyoming, New York, and, in 1834, he graduated from Hobart College in Geneva, New York. He subsequently studied law and was admitted to the New York bar association in 1837.

Early career

He then established a law practice in Rochester. Doolittle moved to Warsaw, New York, in 1841. From 1847 to 1850, he was the district attorney for Wyoming County. He also served for a time as a colonel in the New York State militia.

In 1851, Doolittle moved to Racine, Wisconsin, and, in 1853, was elected Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge for the 1st Circuit, defeating incumbent appointee Wyman Spooner. During his time as judge, he presided over the July 1855 case of The State of Wisconsin v. David F. Mayberry,[4] the result of which led to the only recorded lynching in the history of Rock County, Wisconsin. Doolittle resigned from the court in March 1856.


Until the 1850 repeal of the Missouri Compromise, Doolittle was a Democrat. He left the party and was elected and then re-elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1857 and 1863, respectively. He was a delegate to the Peace Conference of 1861 in Washington, DC.

While senator, Doolittle was the Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. Along with his colleague, Jacob Collamer of Vermont, Doolittle represented the minority view for the Mason Report (June 1860), which was prepared by the Senate committee to investigate John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in October 1859. He also proposed a constitutional amendment to ban secession.

During the Civil War, Doolittle supported many of Lincoln's policies, and he was active in representing Wisconsin's interests on Capitol Hill. During the summer recess of 1865, he visited the Natives west of the Mississippi River as chairman of the Joint Special Committee on Conditions of Indian Tribes, which was charged with an inquiry into the condition of the Native tribes and their treatment by the US civil and military authorities. In the West, the committee split into subcommittees, which considered different regions with Doolittle participating in the inquiry into Native affairs in Kansas, the Indian Territory, and Colorado.

The report of the committee, The Condition of the Tribes, was issued on January 26, 1867. Doolittle was accused by The New York Times in 1872, while he was under consideration for appointment as Secretary of the Interior in the projected "reform cabinet" by Democratic presidential candidate Horace Greeley, of suppressing the report, as it contained information exposing the Native ring of fraudulent suppliers of goods to the Native tribes under treaty obligations. The Times alleged that the report was printed only after the Cincinnati Gazette obtained a copy of it.[5]

Doolittle took a prominent part in the debate on the various war and reconstruction measures, upholding the federal government but always insisting that the seceding states had never ceased to be a part of the Union. He strongly opposed the Fifteenth Amendment and believed that each state should determine questions of suffrage for itself.[6]

Later life

After he left Congress, he ran for Governor of Wisconsin in 1871 as a Democrat. After he lost, he retired from politics.

Doolittle returned to the Midwest and became a lawyer in Chicago, Illinois while he maintained his residence in Racine. He served for a year as the acting president of the Old University of Chicago,[7] and he spent many years on its staff as a professor in the law school as well as serving on the Board of Trustees.

In 1884 and 1885, he served as President of the Chicago Board of Education.[1]

He was president of the National Union Convention of 1866 in Philadelphia and also of the 1872 Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, which adopted the nomination of Horace Greeley. He died of Bright's disease in Edgewood, Rhode Island in 1897,[8] and was interred in Mound Cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin.


  1. ^ a b c History of Chicago, Illinois. v.2. Chicago and New York City: Munsell & co. p. 89.
  2. ^ Wisconsin History website
  3. ^ Political Graveyard site
  4. ^ State of Wisconsin v. David F. Mayberry (1st Cir., Wisconsin Courts, July 11, 1855).Text
  5. ^ "DOOLITTLE AND THE INDIANS.; What the Senator Knows About Suppressing Reports A Good Secretary of the Interior for Greeley's Reform Cabinet", New York Times, September 8, 1872
  6. ^ Wilson & Fiske 1891.
  7. ^ Goodspeed, Thomas W. (1916). A History of the University of Chicago, Founded by John D. Rockefeller: The First Quarter-Century. University of Chicago Press. pp. 18–19 – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ "Doolittle is Dead". The Topeka Daily Capital. July 28, 1897. p. 4. Retrieved June 3, 2015 – via open access


Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by  U.S. senator (Class 1) from Wisconsin
1857 – 1869
Served alongside: Charles Durkee and Timothy O. Howe
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge for the 1st Circuit
1853 – 1856
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 17 August 2021, at 04:00
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