Bio of James W. Bradbury
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

THE common ancestor of the Bradburys in America was Thomas Bradbury, born in the County of Essex, England, baptized in the church of Wicken Bonant February 28, 1611, who came to New England as the agent of Ferdinando Gorges about 1634. Arriving at Agamenticus, now York, Me. , he married and settled in Salisbury, N. H., in 1636. James W. Bradbury, sixth in descent from Thomas, the eldest son of James and Ann Moulton Bradbury, was born in Parsonsfield, Me., June 10, 1802. He attended the public schools and Gorham Academy, and entered the Sophomore class of Bowdoin College in 1822, graduating with high rank in the famous class of 1825. Among the members were Henry W. Longfellow, Josiah S. Little, Jonathan Cilley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John S. C. Abbott, and George B. Cheever.

After graduating Mr. Bradbury taught at the Hallowell Academy one year. He then studied law with Hon. Rufus Mclntire, also with Hon. Ether Shepley. In 1829 he opened a school at Effingham, N. H., for the instruction of teachers, which, it is believed, was the first normal school in New England.

In 1830 he opened a law office in Augusta, where he has resided for sixty-three years. At the Bar were Peleg Sprague, React Williams, and George Evans, and to gain a foothold in a field filled with such talent required ability and great energy. But he soon built up a very large practice, which, probably, was not surpassed by any in the State. ft was said of him: "He was a sound lawyer, a skillful, eloquent advocate who never failed to do full justice to his clients." In 1833 he formed a partnership with Horatio Bridges, and in 1841 he took into partnership Richard D. Rice, who had read law with him, which continued until Rice went upon the Bench in 1852. He then invited Lot M. Morrill to take charge of the business of his office, the firm being Bradbury & Morrill. This partnership continued several years after Mr. Morrill had been elected
to the Senate.

In 1846 Mr. Bradbury was chosen United States Senator for the term beginning March 4, 1847. In the Senate at that time were Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Cass, Douglass, Seward, Chase, and others of great distinction. The Mexican War was then raging, and Mr. Bradbury gave President Polk his hearty support, though the voting of men and supplies for the army was stoutly resisted by the President's opponents, and the ratification of the treaty of peace with Mexico was so strongly opposed that a change of two or three votes would have defeated it. When bills for the organization of the territories acquired by the treaty were introduced, amendments were offered by the Abolitionists prohibiting slavery in all of them. This was resisted by the southera members. Intense and excited debate sprang up and continued day after day. The South urged that the territories were the common property of the whole Union, that they were owners in common with the North, and it would be a violation of their rights to deprive them of the right to move into them with their families as constituted. The reply was that they had not a right to carry their local laws into the territories, and that the North was opposed to the extension of slavery. The excitement continued to increase and extended throughout the Southern States, and finally became dangerous. Threats of secession were made if the northern members insisted in applying the provision to all the territory. These threats were treated and believed by the Abolitionists as mere buncome. In the midst of this excitement Mr. Clay returned to the Senate. A compromise was talked of. The conservative members of both parties, Democrats and Whigs, favored it. But every attempt at any compromise was resisted by the extreme North and the extreme South. Each demanded all. Jefferson Davis and John P. Hale voted together against every compromise. When Mr. Clay's compromise bill (as it is called) was reported by a committee, Mr. Bradbury acted and voted with the conservatives in support of it. They kept advised of the movements of the excited South and were aware of the danger. In their conference meetings Mr. Clay went with them. Mr. Webster was consulted. Both believed in the danger, and enough was known to warrant the belief. But the ultra northern members and the people of the North did not believe there was the slightest danger. They regarded the threats of secession as the merest gasconade. Mr. Bradbury and the other conservatives who supported the compromise believed that its adoption would probably prevent any future attempt at secession; and if not, it would postpone it until the relatively rapid increase of the strength of the North would give it such preponderance as to make any attempt a failure. He regarded Mr. Webster and Mr. Clay as acting throughout the struggle from high motives of patriotism, and wisely, too, and Mr. Webster's 7th of March speech as one of the most patriotic acts of his life. He has ever been fully satisfied that he was right in his active efforts in support of the compromise of 1850.

Mr. Bradbury served on the Judiciary Committee, the Claims Committee, and the Special Committee on French Spoliations. He saw the need of a tribunal to adjust claims against the Government, and he prepared and had an amendment to a pending bill adopted and passed by the Senate, which finally resulted in the establishment of the Court of Claims. The French Spoliation bill, to satisfy claims for damages committed by the French prior to 1800, was also championed by him and passed by the Senate. It was through Mr. Bradbury's exertions that the first appropriation was made for improving the Kennebec River; he always looked carefully after the interests of his constituents and of the public as well. Mr. Bradbury declined a re-election to the Senate and returned to his law practice at Augusta. He has always been a Democrat from conviction, and has always taken a leading part in the political movements of the day; was a delegate to the Baltimore Convention in 1844, and threw the vote of Maine for Mr. Polk, which resulted in his nomination. He took the stump and aided materially in the election, and the admission of Texas, which was an issue in the campaign.

He has always kept up his interest in Bowdoin College; elected on the Board of Overseers in 1846, and in 1861 was chosen one of the Trustees; for twenty years has been chairman of the Finance Committee. He has also been an active member of the Maine Historical Society since I846, and was its President from 1867 to 1887; was given a complimentary dinner in Portland by this society on his eighty-fifth birthday, June 10, 1887. He put through the Legislature the charter for the first railroad in Maine, the Portland, Saco & Portsmouth, in 1835, also the charter for the Atlantic & St. Lawrence road.

At the present time. Mr. Bradbury, though he has passed his ninety-first mile-stone, is still vigorous. He takes care of a large private business, is a constant attendant at the Congregational Church, of which he has long been an active member, and at the meetings of the Historical Society. His mind is still unimpaired, and his interest in the affairs of the State and Nation is apparently as great as ever.


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