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James McMillan (politician)

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James McMillan May 12, 1838 – August 10, 1902 was a businessman and a Republican US Senator from Michigan


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Death
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Bibliography
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 References


McMillan was born in Hamilton, Ontario to William and Grace McMillan, both Scottish natives He attended Hamilton public schools before moving to Detroit, Michigan in 1855 to embark on a career in business McMillan's first position was as a clerk for Buhl, Ducharme & Co, a wholesale hardware firm At the age of 20, he left to become the purchasing agent for the Detroit & Milwaukee Railway In 1863, he helped, along with John Stoughton Newberry, to organize the Michigan Car Company for the manufacture of freight cars This business grew very rapidly, and in ten years it was one of the largest in the United States Its success led to the formation of the Detroit Car Wheel Co, the Baugh Steam Forge Co, the Detroit Iron Furnace Co, and the Vulcan Furnace Co

McMillan later built and became president of the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway He was largely interested in shipbuilding and lake transportation companies He was one of the largest owners of the Detroit and Cleveland Steam Navigation Co, and the Detroit Transportation Co, and was a director of several banks in Detroit For three years he was president of the Detroit Board of Park Commissioners and for four years a member of the Detroit Board of Estimates In 1886, he joined with John S Newberry in contributing $100,000 each for the establishment and maintenance of a hospital in Detroit

The National Mall was the centerpiece of the 1901 McMillan Plan A central open vista traversed the length of the Mall See also: History of Washington, DC

McMillan was the only person to be elected Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party three non-consecutive times 1879, 1886 and 1890 He was a presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1884 He was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1889 and was reelected in 1895 and 1901, serving from March 4, 1889, until his death He was a dominant figure in the party, leading the business interests especially in opposition to Progressive reformer Governor Hazen S Pingree in 1897-1900

He was chairman of the Committee on Manufactures in the Fifty-first and Fifty-second Congresses, and of the Committee on the District of Columbia in the Fifty-fourth through Fifty-seventh Congresses He is also remembered for his chairmanship of the Senate Park Improvement Commission of the District of Columbia better known as the McMillan Commission, which recommended the redesign of the National Mall to better reflect Pierre Peter Charles L'Enfant's plan for Washington, DC The McMillan Reservoir and the McMillan Sand Filtration Site in DC also bear his namecitation needed


McMillan died in Manchester, Massachusetts and is interred in Elmwood Cemetery, in Detroit He was survived by his wife Mary and their six children: William Charles, Grace Fisher, James Howard, Amy, Philip Hamilton and Francis Wetmorecitation needed

See alsoedit

  • McMillan Fountain
  • McMillan Plan
  • List of United States Congress members who died in office 1900–49


  • American National Biography
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Drutchas, Geoffrey G "Gray Eminence in a Gilded Age: The Forgotten Career of Senator James McMillan of Michigan" Michigan Historical Review 28 Fall 2002: 78-113 online
  • Drutchas, Geoffrey G "The Man With a Capital Design" Michigan History 86 March/April 2002: 36-38
  • Heyda, Marie "Senator James McMillan and the Flowering of the Spoils System" Michigan History 54 Fall 1970: 183-200
  • Michigan Legislature In Memory of Hon James McMillan, Senator in the Congress of the United States from Michigan Lansing: R Smith Printing Co, 1903
  • Moore, Charles "James M’Millan, United States Senator from Michigan" Michigan Historical Collections 39 1915: 173-87
  • US Congress James McMillan: Late a Senator from Michigan Memorial Addresses Delivered in the Senate and House of Representatives 57th Cong, 2d sess, 1902–1903 Washington: Government Printing Office



  • United States Congress "James McMillan id: M000567" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 
  • The Political Graveyard
  •  Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds 1900 "McMillan, James" Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography New York: D Appleton 
  • James McMillan late a senator from Michigan Memorial addresses delivered in the House of Representatives and Senate frontispiece 1903
Party political offices
Preceded by
Zachariah Chandler
Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party
Succeeded by
Henry P Baldwin
Preceded by
Philip T Van Zile
Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party
Succeeded by
George H Hopkins
Preceded by
George H Hopkins
Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party
Succeeded by
Dexter M Ferry
US Senate
Preceded by
Thomas W Palmer
US Senator Class 2 from Michigan
Served alongside: Francis B Stockbridge, John Patton, Jr, Julius C Burrows
Succeeded by
Russell A Alger

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