Library of Congress
HARLAN, James (1820-1899)
Senate Years of Service: 1855-1857; 1857-1865; 1867-1873

HARLAN, JAMES, A Senator from Iowa; born in Clark County, Ill., August 26, 1820; at age four, moved with his family to Indiana; attended the rural schools, assisted his father in farming, and taught school until 1841, when he entered college; graduated from Indiana Asbury (now DePauw) University, Greencastle, Ind., in 1845; moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1845; superintendent of public instruction in 1847; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1850 and commenced practice in Iowa City; declined the Whig nomination for Governor of Iowa in 1850; president of Iowa Wesleyan University, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 1853-1855; elected as a Free Soiler to the United States Senate in 1855, presented his credentials, and took his seat December 31, 1855; owing to irregularities in the legislative proceedings the Senate declared the seat vacant in January 1857; reelected as a Republican to fill the vacancy thus created; reelected in 1860 and served from January 29, 1857, until May 15, 1865, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet portfolio; chairman, Committee on Public Lands (Thirty-seventh through Thirty-ninth Congresses); Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Andrew Johnson from May 15, 1865, until July 27, 1866, when he resigned; again elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1867, to March 3, 1873; chairman, Committee on the District of Columbia (Fortieth Congress), Committee on Education (Fortieth Congress), Committee on Indian Affairs (Forty-first and Forty-second Congresses); delegate to the peace convention held in Washington, D.C., in 1861, in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending war; unsuccessful candidate for the Senate and the governorship; presiding judge of the court of commissioners of Alabama claims 1882-1886; died in Mount Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa, on October 5, 1899; interment in Forest Home Cemetery.

Brown University
Providence, RI
Papers: In Mary Rivers Allen collection of letters and autographs, 1846-1881.

Iowa Wesleyan College
Mt. Pleasant, IA
Papers: Processing in progress.

State Historical Society of Iowa
Des Moines, IA
Papers: 10 letters, booklet (copy) of unpublished letters, addresses, and a portrait.
Papers: 1854-1895. 12 items. Correspondence with daughter and lawyer about publication of biography, official and personal letters, and photographs.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1869-1977. 6 items.

Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston, MA
Papers: Newsclips and scrapbooks in Henry Van Ness Boynton collection, 1862-1904.

New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections
Albany, NY
Papers: In Autographs of American Authors and Statesmen collection, ca. 1770-1865.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 1865. 3 items.

Sioux City Public Museum
Sioux City, IA
Papers: Correspondence in Asahel Wheeler Hubbard papers, 1865-1946.

State Historical Society of Iowa
Des Moines, IA
Papers: 2 letters (1882, 1890) in William Larrabee papers.

University of Iowa Libraries
Special Collections Department
Iowa City, IA
Papers: 25 letters (1856-1873); and correspondence in one other collection.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY
Papers: 17 letters by and 8 to Harlan (1855-1871) in various collections. Finding aid.

  • Brigham, Johnson. James Harlan. Iowa City: State Historical Society of Iowa, 1913.
  • Davis, R. E. "James Harlan: A Case Study of Early Republicanism." Central States Speech Journal 34 (Summer 1983): 104-13.
  • Petersen, William J. "James Harlan." Palimpsest 41 (March 1960): 145-60.
  • Stathis, Stephen W. "Impeachment and Trial of President Andrew Johnson: A View from the Iowa Congressional Delegation." Presidential Studies Quarterly 24 (Winter 1994): 29-47.