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James K. Kelly

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James Kerr Kelly February 16, 1819 – September 15, 1903 was an American politician born in Pennsylvania He was a United States Senator for Oregon from 1871 to 1877, and later Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court1 Prior to his election to the Senate he had been elected to both houses of the local legislature, serving in the Territorial House and State Senate, and was a member of the Oregon Constitutional Convention in 1857


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Political career
  • 4 Later life
  • 5 References

Early lifeedit

Kelly was born in Centre County, Pennsylvania in 18191 There he attended the school at Milton, and later the Lewisburg Academies1 For his higher education, the future Congressman graduated from the College of New Jersey in 18391 James Kelly then studied law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at the Dickinson School of Law and was admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania in 18421


Upon entering the legal profession, Mr Kelly began private practice in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, then was the deputy attorney general for Mifflin County, Pennsylvania1 In 1849 he left for California and the newly discovered gold fields, then moved on to the Oregon Territory in 18511 In Oregon he set up a law practice in Portland and was one of three people selected to help re-write the laws of the territory1

Political careeredit

While living in Oregon, Kelly became active in politics and was elected as a Democrat to the territorial legislature serving from 1853 to 1857, and was selected as president of the legislature twice1 In 1857, he was a member of the constitutional convention formed to prepare for Oregon's admission into the Union in 18591 Upon statehood, Kelly was elected to the Oregon State Senate and served from 1860 to 18641 In 1864, he ran for a seat in the U S House of Representatives, but lost to Republican James H D Henderson1 He was also unsuccessful in running for governor in 18661 Then in 1870, he was elected to the US Senate as a Democrat and served from March 4, 1871, to March 4, 1877 He did not run for re-election1

From 1878 to 1880, Kelly was a justice on the Oregon Supreme Court He also served as Chief Justice of the court during that time Kelly was appointed to the position by Governor W W Thayer, along with Justices Reuben P Boise and Paine Page Prim as a temporary justice until elections could be held following a reorganization of the Oregon court system Kelly was not elected to a full term after his partial term expired2

Later lifeedit

After retiring from the bench, Kelly went back into private practice in Portland1 In 1890 he returned to the east coast, settling in Washington, DC, where he practiced law James Kerr Kelly died on September 15, 1903 with burial at Rock Creek Cemetery1


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Kelly, James Kerr" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress US Congress Retrieved 2007-01-11 
  2. ^ "Oregon Supreme Court Justices" Oregon Blue Book State of Oregon Retrieved 2006-12-06 
US Senate
Preceded by
George H Williams
US Senator Class 2 from Oregon
Served alongside: Henry W Corbett, John H Mitchell
Succeeded by
La Fayette Grover

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James K. Kelly

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