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James Overton Broadhead Papers, 1802-1906

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Identifier: A0180

Title: James Overton Broadhead Papers, 1802-1906


James Overton Broadhead, prominent lawyer and politician, was the eldest son of Achilles Broadhead of Charlottesville, Virginia. His boyhood days were spent in Virginia, where he was tutored by an uncle in English and the classics. At age 16 he entered the University of Virginia, where he studied for a year. At the close of that year he was engaged as a tutor in a private school near Baltimore. His father moved to Missouri soon after and settled in St. Charles County. After James arrived in Missouri in 1838, he was engaged as a tutor in the family of Edward Bates, noted lawyer and member of President Lincoln's cabinet. While instructing the Bates children, he studied law with Bates, and in 1841 was licensed to practice. He began his professional career in Bowling Green, Missouri, and practiced in the courts in the circuit of St. Charles, Lincoln, Pike, Ralls, Montgomery, and Warren Counties. He was elected to the state legislature in 1847 and was a state senator from 1850 to 1854. He married Mary S. Dorsey (1824-1914) and they had three children: Charles S., Mary W. Horton, and Nannia D. Broadhead. In 1859, Broadhead came to St. Louis, where he formed a partnership in the practice of law with Fidelio C. Sharp. He took an active interest in politics, serving on the Committee of Safety formed in St. Louis in 1861 to assist in keeping the state in the union. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1864, but was defeated by B. Gratz Brown. In 1875, he formed another law partnership, Broadhead, Slayback and Haeussler. In 1882, he won a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. President Cleveland appointed him to study French spoliation claims in 1885, and he later served as the U.S. minister to Switzerland from 1893 to 1895. Failing health forced him to resign, and he returned to St. Louis, where he died August 7, 1898. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Mrs. Broadhead died September 14, 1914.

The collection includes correspondence relating to the secessionist movement in Missouri in 1861; family correspondence, particularly when he was serving as minister to Switzerland (1893-1895); legal papers and notes, Civil War material, and copies of some of Broadhead's speeches. Also includes memorandum on the prosecution of treason in the case of U.S. v. Joseph W. Tucker; memoranda relating to Missouri politics and government, judicial appointments, and constitutional law; the Peralta and Mormon cases, the case of the City of St. Louis v. the St. Louis Gas & Light Company; rough drafts of lectures, articles, and legal notes; two land grants, and 15 memoranda books, containing records of travels, expenses, and notes on legal issues.

Indexed in the archives card catalog.

5 boxes

Cite as: James Overton Broadhead Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.


Place: United States

Dates: 1802-1906

Type(s): Documentary Artifacts

Maker/Creator: Broadhead, James O. (James Overton), 1819-1898

Subjects: Secession
Civil War, 1861-1865
Politics and government
Speeches, addresses, etc
Actions and defenses
Lectures and lecturing


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