Manahan, James, 1866-1932

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James Manahan was born March 12, 1866 on a farm near Chatfield, Minnesota, the son of Joseph and Catherine McCarthy Manahan. He received his education at a country school taught by his older brother, Christopher, and at the Winona Normal School. After his graduation in 1886, he taught school at Graceville, Minnesota for a short time, began studying law at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and then entered the newly-organized law department at the University of Minnesota. In 1889 he received its first Bachelor of Laws degree, and opened an office in St. Paul.

On September 20, 1893 Manahan married Mary Zita (Minnie) Kelly, the daughter of Daniel and Mary Kelly of St. Paul. They had one daughter, Kathryn, who also became a St. Paul lawyer.

In 1895 Manahan moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was attorney for Mary Fitzgerald in the extensive litigation surrounding the settlement of her husband's estate, as well as conducting a private law practice. He met William Jennings Bryan soon after moving to Lincoln, became his friend, and supported him in his three campaigns for the presidency. Manahan himself ran unsuccessfully for congress from Lincoln in 1898.

Manahan returned to Minnesota in 1905 and opened a law office in Minneapolis. After Bryan's defeat in 1908, Manahan left the Democratic Party and became a progressive Republican. He supported Robert M. LaFollette in 1912 and was himself elected congressman-at-large for Minnesota for the term 1913-1915.

Instead of running for reelection, he moved his law office to St. Paul and began to study the question of transportation and marketing as they affected farming. His concern for this issue led to his involvement in such cases as the Pullman rate case, which resulted in lower rates on sleeping car berths, and the case of Sundberg vs. the American Express Company, which brought about a readjustment of express rates.

Manahan believed that farmers were vital members of society, since they were responsible for feeding the world, and he devoted himself to establishing farmers' rights to receive a fair return for their effort. His later years were spent trying to gain protection for the agricultural interests of the northwest through favorable tariffs and improved marketing systems. He was closely identified with farm organizations, cooperative marketing associations, and the Farmers Union Terminal Association.

James Manahan died January 8, 1932.

Biographical information was taken from the collection; from Manahan's autobiography, Trials of a Lawyer (Minneapolis, 1933); and from his obituary, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 8, 1932, page 4.

From the guide to the James Manahan and family papers., 1880-1937., (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Jones, Stiles P., 1862-1920. Stiles P. Jones and family papers, 1848-1918. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Manahan, James, 1866-1932. James Manahan and family papers, 1880-1937. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Drake, Benjamin B., 1880-1961. Equity Cooperative Exchange papers, 1906-1929. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf James Manahan and family papers., 1880-1937. Minnesota Historical Society.
creatorOf Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995. Pamphlets relating to federal and national judiciary in Minnesota, 1911- Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Nevius, George Loper, 1854-1925. George L. Nevius papers, 1884, 1890-1915. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Jaeger, Luth, 1851-1925. Luth and Nanny Mattson Jaeger papers, 1874-1933. Minnesota Historical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bryan, Charles Wayland, 1867-1945. person
associatedWith Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925. person
associatedWith Butler, Pierce, 1866-1939. person
associatedWith Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway Company corporateBody
associatedWith Clapp, Moses E. (Moses Edwin), 1852-1929. person
associatedWith Drake, Benjamin B., 1880-1961. corporateBody
associatedWith Farmers Union Terminal Association (Minn.). corporateBody
associatedWith Fitzgerald, John, d. 1884 person
associatedWith Fitzgerald, Mary person
associatedWith Fitzgerald, Mary person
associatedWith Foley, Daniel F., 1851-1939. person
associatedWith Haines, Lynn, 1876-1929. person
associatedWith Hastings Malting Company corporateBody
associatedWith Jaeger, Luth, 1851-1925. person
associatedWith Jones, Stiles P., 1862-1920. person
associatedWith La Follette, Robert M. (Robert Marion), 1855-1925. person
associatedWith Lane, Franklin K. (Franklin Knight), 1864-1921. person
associatedWith Lemke, William, 1878-1950. person
associatedWith Loftus, George Sperry, 1873-1916. person
associatedWith Manahan family. family
associatedWith Manahan family. family
associatedWith Manahan, Kathryn, 1896-1987. person
associatedWith Minnesota. Legislature. Committee Appointed to Investigate the Value and Cost of Operation of Railroads in Minnesota. corporateBody
associatedWith Minnesota Progressive Republican League. corporateBody
associatedWith National Nonpartisan League. corporateBody
associatedWith Nelson, Knute, 1843-1923. person
associatedWith Nevius, George Loper, 1854-1925. person
associatedWith Nolan, W. I. (William Ignatius), 1874-1943. person
associatedWith O'Brien, Christopher Dillon, 1848-1922. person
associatedWith O'Brien, Thomas Dillon, 1859-1935. person
associatedWith Pattee, William Sullivan, 1846-1911. person
associatedWith Pullman Company corporateBody
associatedWith Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Minnesota. corporateBody
associatedWith Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973. person
associatedWith Walsh, Thomas James, 1859-1933. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Minnesota--Saint Paul
United States
Lincoln (Neb.)
Lincoln (Neb.).
Practice of law
Real estate business--Minnesota
Progressivism (United States politics)
Decedents' estates
Political parties
Real Estate Business
Presidents--United States--Election--1912
Railroad law--Minnesota
Political parties--Minnesota
Railroad law
Presidents--United States--Election--1908
Lawyers--Minnesota--Saint Paul


Birth 1866-03-12

Death 1932-01-08



Ark ID: w6ft9cwr

SNAC ID: 49068543