> Hmmm...here's an interesting Alabama connection!--aj wright //
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> From: ANB Biography of the Day [mailto:biod-request@...]
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> American National Biography Online
> Grant, James Benton (2 Jan. 1848-1 Nov. 1911), metallurgist
> and governor of Colorado, was born in Russell County, Alabama,
> the son of Thomas McDonough Grant, a physician and owner of a
> plantation on the Chattahoochee River, and Mary Jane Benton.
> Both of his parents were natives of Halifax County, North Carolina.
> Grant's grandfather was a member of the Highland clan of Grants
> who, after having fought in the Battle of Culloden, were transported
> as rebellious subjects to North Carolina in 1746. Grant's father
> Thomas, after receiving an education in medicine in Philadelphia,
> Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, migrated to Alabama
> to practice medicine and farm. Meanwhile, Grant's uncle, James
> Grant, who would play an important role in his life, migrated
> to frontier Chicago, Illinois, where he began practicing law in 1833.
> After a rural education, Grant, at age seventeen, served in
> General Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate army from January through
> April 1865 and was involved in the last battle of the Civil War
> at Columbus, Georgia. Because his father lost his land during
> the war, however, Grant followed the lead of his brothers, sisters,
> and cousins and migrated in 1870 to Davenport, Iowa, to live
> with his wealthy and childless uncle James. James had moved from
> Chicago to Davenport, Iowa Territory, in 1838 and become a judge,
> a Democratic politician, a railroad director, and a prominent
> member of the local and state bar. As a railroad lawyer he had
> acquired a regional and even national reputation. With his uncle's
> financial backing, Grant attended Iowa State Agricultural College
> and Cornell University and from 1874 to 1876 studied at the mining
> school in Freiburg, Germany. Returning via a tour of the mining
> districts in Australia and New Zealand, Grant, with his uncle
> as a partner, set out for the mining frontier of Colorado in 1877.
> Grant spent his first year assaying ore in Mill City and Central
> City, while scouting out other mining opportunities in Empire,
> Georgetown, and Fairplay before proceeding to Leadville in March
> 1878. A burgeoning local mining boom had started the year before
> when St. Louis capitalists had begun mining in the area. Grant,
> a trained assayer, recognized the wealth to be made in extracting
> silver, iron, and lead from the local carbonate ores. An essay
> he wrote in 1878 for a railroad reported on the incredible mineral
> wealth in the area and was instrumental in encouraging the Denver
> and Rio Grande to build a line to Leadville. With his uncle's
> financial support, Grant bought out mining and smelting concerns
> from St. Louis and Chicago that had established operations in
> the California gulch in Leadville, and he founded and operated
> the James B. Grant and Company smelting works, which were soon
> the largest silver mining and smelting operations in the region.
> Within three years Grant had joined the ranks of prominent men
> such as Horace Tabor, Jerome Chaffee, and Alva Adams, making
> a fortune and becoming very active in the boom town's booster
> ethos. In 1881 Grant married Mary Goodell; they had two children.
> (His wife was one of the five "Goodell Sisters of Leadville,"
> daughters of the local postmaster, all of whom, in marrying prominent
> men in the regional elite, helped bring "gentility" to the urban West.)
> When the Leadville plant burned down in 1882, Grant, who was
> already expanding his operations by buying other mines in Colorado,
> decided to relocate to a larger, more centralized establishment
> nearer to the railroad terminus at Denver, to which ore from
> around the region was shipped for smelting. Grant's decision
> the year before to move to Denver for political and social reasons
> also, no doubt, affected his business decision to relocate his
> company's operations there. He became known for his hard-nosed
> conservative methods and tough opposition to unions. He also
> became a prominent member of the Denver power elite that ruled
> the city for thirty years. As a member of the Denver Chamber
> of Commerce and, beginning in 1880, the Denver Club, Grant aggressively
> supported railroads, city improvements, and institutional development
> and helped organize the National Mining and Industrial Exposition
> in 1882. In addition to serving as the vice president of the
> Omaha and Grant Smelting and Refining Company from 1882 until
> 1899, Grant was a member and director of the American Smelting
> and Refining Company from 1880 until his death in 1911. He also
> helped organize the Denver National Bank, serving as its first
> vice president from 1884 until 1911. Grant was also involved
> in the development of a water system in Denver.
> Grant, perhaps more reluctantly than others, parlayed his economic
> and social power as a member of the "Capitol Hill" elite into
> political office. Taking advantage of factional and personal
> disputes among Republicans, Grant, a Democrat, was elected governor
> of Colorado in 1882 and served for two peaceful and prosperous
> years. As governor, Grant maintained independence from the Democratic
> party power structure by paying for his own campaign, refusing
> to participate in the patronage system, and, having broken the
> Republican monopoly of state government, declining to run again.
> Grant returned to business and philanthropy in 1885. For years
> Grant served on the Denver Board of Education and financially
> supported the fledgling University of Denver.
> As a "captain of industry," Grant was representative of many
> native-born regional businessmen in the Midwest and West who
> after the Civil War rapidly expanded the scale of corporate capitalism
> and manufacturing and accelerated the pace of environmental resource
> extraction across the West. Like many of these capitalists, Grant
> acted within a power elite who ran the regional metropolis and
> sought, at the state, regional, or national level, to acquire
> influence in Gilded Age politics and society. He died in Excelsior
> Springs, Missouri.
> The James B. Grant Papers in the Colorado Historical Society
> are limited. Other Grant papers are at the Division of State
> Archives and Records in Denver. The James H. Grant Papers at
> the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa, contain many letters between
> the young Grant and his uncle James during his school days and
> his first three years in Colorado. Useful biographical accounts
> of Grant can be found in the following: History of the Arkansas
> Valley (1881); James MacCarthy, Political Portraits (1888); Portrait
> and Biographical Record of the State of Colorado (1899); and
> Sketches of Colorado, vol. 1 (1911). Eugene Parson, "Colorado's
> First Governors," Trail 16, no. 12 (May 1924), is also useful.
> See also Grant, "Report on the Mines and Smelting Works near
> Leadville," in The Pueblo and Oro Railroad (1878), and Inaugural
> Address of His Excellency James B. Grant, Governor of Colorado
> . . . January 9, 1883 (1883). For context regarding Leadville,
> see Don L. Griswold and Jean J. Griswold, The Carbonate Camp
> Called Leadville (1951), and Edward Blair, Leadville: Colorado's
> Magic City (1980). Lyle W. Dorsett and Michael McCarthy, The
> Queen City: A History of Denver (1986), is a standard work with
> some references to Grant. Obituaries are in the Denver Post,
> 2-4 Nov. 1911, and the Denver Republican and the Rocky Mountain
> News, both 2 Nov. 1911.
> Timothy R. Mahoney
> Back to the top
> Timothy R. Mahoney. "Grant, James Benton";
> American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
> Access Date:
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