SEMPLE, James (1798-1866)

SEMPLE, JAMES, a Senator from Illinois; born in Green County, Ky., January 5, 1798; moved with his parents to Clinton County; received private instruction and attended the common schools; enlisted in the Army in 1814; ensign in the Kentucky Militia in 1816; moved to Edwardsville, Ill., in 1818 and to Chariton, Mo., in 1819, where he engaged in business; elected as a commissioner of the loan office; studied law in Louisville, Ky.; admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Clinton County, Ky.; returned to Edwardsville, Ill., in 1827 and continued the practice of law; member, State house of representatives 1828-1833, serving as speaker four years; served as a private, adjutant, and judge advocate during the Black Hawk War; attorney general of Illinois in 1833; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1836 to the United States Senate; moved to Alton, Ill., in 1837; Charge d'Affaires to Colombia 1837-1842; judge of the State supreme court 1842-1843; appointed and subsequently elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel McRoberts and served from December 4, 1843, to March 3, 1847; was not a candidate for renomination in 1846; chairman, Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Twenty-ninth Congress); returned to Alton and engaged in the real estate business; moved to Jersey County, Ill., in 1853 and founded the town of Elsah; continued in the real estate business; also engaged in literary pursuits; died in Elsah, Ill., December 20, 1866; interment in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.

Chicago Historical Society
Chicago, IL
Papers: 5 miscellaneous items in various collections.

Rosenbach Museum and Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: May 16, 1846. 1 item. Petition to James K. Polk from members of Illinois delegation concerning an appointment to a regiment.

  • Burton, William L. "James Semple, Prairie Entrepreneur.'' Illinois Historical Journal 80 (Summer 1987): 66-84.