DENVER, James William (1817-1892)

DENVER, JAMES WILLIAM, (father of Matthew Rombach Denver), a Representative from California; born in Winchester, Va., October 23, 1817; attended the public schools; moved to Ohio in 1830 with his parents, who settled near Wilmington; taught school in Missouri in 1841; was graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1844; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Xenia, Ohio; also published the Thomas Jefferson; moved to Platte City, Mo., in 1845 and continued the practice of law; served as captain in the Twelfth Regiment, United States Infantry, during the war with Mexico; moved to California in 1850; elected to the State senate in 1851; appointed secretary of state in 1852; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1855-March 3, 1857); was not a candidate for renomination in 1856; appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs April 17, 1857; resigned to become Governor of the Territory of Kansas June 17, 1857, and during his administration the present capital of Colorado (then Kansas Territory) was founded and named ``Denver'' for the chief executive; reappointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs November 8, 1858, and served until his resignation on March 31, 1859; was commissioned brigadier general in the Union Army August 14, 1861; resigned from the Army March 5, 1863; resumed the practice of his profession in Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Ohio; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1876, 1880, and 1884; died in Washington, D.C., August 9, 1892; interment in Sugar Grove Cemetery, Wilmington, Ohio.

University of California
The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, CA
Papers: ca. 1832-1925, 2.4 linear feet.
The collection consists of personal, political, business and family correspondence of James William Denver and his family. Topics reflect the political focus of Denver and his family, with speculation about political success, discussion of the nuts and bolts of politicking, and the ethical foundations of Denver's democratic beliefs. Correspondents include William McKendree Gwin, Thomas A. Hendricks, and members of the Democratic Party and other California, Ohio, and national political figures. Topics reflecting his Washington DC based legal practice are claims against the government such as Civil War claims, tax litigation, especially the cotton tax, and other cases from around the United States. Denver's ongoing involvement with Mexican War veterans and the military in general is reflected in other letters. Family correspondence reflects current affairs, as well as conveying regular news from home and includes letters from Denver's siblings, between him and his wife Louise and their children. A finding aid is available in the repository and online: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf9m3nb430.


Arizona Historical Society
Tucson, AZ
Papers: 1848-1893, 0.25 linear foot.
Letters received by Gen. James Denver and his wife, Louisa, from her cousins, August and Albert Kautz. These letters describe life at West Point and the Naval Academy, military life, and the Civil War; several ask Gen. Denver for assistance in securing positions or transfers. Two letters from August Kautz, written while commanding the Dept. of Arizona in 1877, remark on conditions and comment on Indian affairs. These were the only letters in this collection from that period. Also present is one letter from Denver to President Buchanan recommending Joseph Vaughn as district judge if Arizona became a territory in 1859.


Copley Press
J.S. Copley Library
La Jolla, CA
Papers: 1856, 1 page.
A letter from Joseph W. Gregory to Hon. J.W. Denver written on July 26, 1856. In the letter, Joseph Gregory, a constituent, writes his congressman to file a claim against the government "for loss & damage by failure of the U.S. Mails to carry & promptly deliver Newspapers from New Orleans to San Francisco in 1851 & 1852."


Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1868-1884, 1 linear foot.
Four letterpress books containing correspondence relating to James Denver???s law practice in Washington, D.C., concerning Choctaw Indian claims and land disputes in California and elsewhere in the West, and to his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination (1884). A fifth letterpress book contains the correspondence of Seargent Prentiss Knut of Denver???s law firm.


State Historical Society of Colorado
Denver, CO
Papers: 1840-1906. ca. 50 items.
Correspondence, biographical data, and scrapbooks.


University of Kansas Libraries
Lawrence, KS
Papers: 1839-1912. 353 items.
In part transcripts. Personal and family correspondence, biographical sketches, documents, and business papers. Partial card index in library.


University of Oklahoma Library
Western History Collection
Norman, OK
Papers: 1849-1891, 0.5 foot.
Personal and family correspondence, biographical material, Civil War papers, and military and legal papers.

  • Barnes, George C. Denver, The Man: The Life, Letters and Public Papers of the Lawyer, Soldier, and Statesman. Strasburg, Va.: Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., 1950.
  • Cook, Edward Magruder, ed. Justified by Honor: Highlights in the Life of General James William Denver. Falls Church, Va.: Higher Education Publications, 1988.
  • Knut, Seargent Prentiss. A Democratic Nomination for 1884: James W. Denver, of Ohio: His Life, His Services, and His Availability. Washington: Judd and Detweiler, Printers, 1884.
  • Taylor, Edwart T. "General James W. Denver, An Appreciation." Colorado Magazine 17 (March 1940): 41-51.