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James Speed

Birth: March 11, 1812 in Louisville, Kentucky

Death: June 25, 1887 in Louisville, Kentucky

Residence: Louisville, Kentucky; Washington, D.C.


Biography: Born at Farmington, the Speed family estate. Graduated from St. Joseph's College in Bardstown in 1828. Studied law under Worden Pope in Louisville before graduating from law school at Transylvania University in Lexington in 1833. Married Jane L. Cochran on April 23, 1840. Father of John Speed, Henry Pirtle Speed, Charles Speed, Breckinridge Speed, James Speed, Jr., Joshua Fry Speed, Jr., and Edward Shippen Speed. Represented Louisville as a Whig in the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 1847 to 1848. Stood as an unsuccessful emancipationist candidate for the 1849 state constitutional convention. Served on the City Council and on the Board of Aldermen of the City of Louisville. Served on the University of Louisville law department board of trustees in 1848 and taught law in the department from 1856 to 1858. In 1861, Speed was appointed the mustering officer for Kentucky Union volunteers and commanded the local home guard. He was elected to represent Louisville in the Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1861 and served until 1863. In December 1864, Abraham Lincoln appointed Speed Attorney General, in which position he served into the Andrew Johnson administration, resigning on July 16, 1866.


Citation: James J. Holmberg, "James Speed" in John E. Kleber, ed., The Encyclopedia of Louisville (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), 842.