Biography of Hon. James M. Shaffer
Marin County, CA Biographies





Hon. James McMillan Shaffer. Few men in Margin have attained greater prominence than he whose name appears at the head of this sketch; yet it is not only in this county that his reputation obtains, it is acknowledged throughout the length and breadth of the Pacific coast, and is as fully established in the Eastern States as it is in California. Mr. Shafter was born in the State of Vermont, May 27, 1816, and finished his education by graduating from the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. At the early age of twenty years, having already combined his profession of a lawyer with that of politics, he was elected a member of the Vermont House of Representatives, where so excellent was his record that from 1842 to 1849, he was each year chosen to fill the high position of Secretary of State. In 1849 he transferred the arena of his labors to Wisconsin, and in 1851 was elected a member and Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly. In 1852 he was nominated for Congress, running far ahead of his ticket, and receiving in his district over one thousand more votes than were counted by General Scott, then a candidate for the Presidency. He was renominated for the next term but declined reelection. In 1855 Mr. Shafter was nominated Judge of a District Court of Wisconsin, declining which nomination, he started for the Pacific coast, arriving in California December 15, 1855. As at the East, so here was he called upon to take his due share in the conduct off affairs. In 1862 and 1863 he was an active member of the Senate of California-sufficiently active to be its President pro team., and President at the impeachment trial of Judge Hardy. He, however, forgot not his professional duties, for he established a legal practice which brought him both fame and fortune. He is now, and has been for some time, more deeply engaged in the pursuit of affairs agricultural. In the year 1856-7 he acquired land in Margin county, which now comprises twenty five thousand acres, a principality rather than an estate; he owns two thousand head of stock, is an extensive breeder of blooded stock, being a prominent member of the Pacific Blood Horse and other kindred associations, and is considered an excellent judge of the fine points of stock of all kinds. He was sent to the Convention which met at Sacramento to frame the New Constitution, and though a Republican in politics, elected on the Non partisan ticket, the endorsement to his nomination being couched in the following laudatory terms: "Long recognized as at the head of the California Bar, but now and for some years wholly devoted to agricultural pursuits, he is a man who will in the Constitutional Convention be one of its ablest members, and whose deep and clever mind, profound erudition and sound judgment will be of vast weight in that body. He is a citizen of high character and his reputation is untarnished." Judge Shafter married Miss Julia Hubbard, of Montpelier, Vermont, October 28, 1845. Three children of this marriage survive, Payne J., James C., and Julia R.; Chester Hubbard having died in 1863, preceding his mother who died February 11, 1871.

From:
History of Marin County, California
Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, California 1880


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