James Henry Hawley (Governor)

James Henry Hawley Photo

Burial Date: August 7, 1929
Location: Section SJ4-32-4

James Henry and Mary Elizabeth Hawley are buried in the Saint Johns section of Morris Hill Cemetery. He arrived in Idaho in 1862, a 15 year old miner seeking to make his fortune in the gold rush and went on to become the state's most prominent lawyer. He had a reputation for having tried more murder cases than any attorney in the country. A Democrat, he was Mayor of Boise, Governor of Idaho and he ran unsuccessfully for the U. S. Senate. Despite his well heeled success, he never pulled off the knee high rubber boots he wore to muck through the mines as a teen.

His nick name "the Gum-boot Lawyer" came from a judge in the 1870's who shouted: "No darn gum-boot lawyer can come down here from Quartzburg and bulldoze this court!"

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, January 17, 1847, he tried to join the Union Army in 1861. Rejected because of his youth, he stowed away on a troop boat, but was discovered midstream and unceremoniously sent ashore in a row boat. Instead, he went to San Francisco with his uncle, James Carr, and followed him to the Idaho gold fields in 1862. He reached Lewiston in three weeks, swimming the Snake River to save the $1 ferry toll. Then he moved on to the mining town of Florence, home of 5,000 prospectors. Hawley sold his claims in 1865 and returned to San Francisco to earn his college degree. He returned to the Boise Basin in 1868. As he was settling into Boise, his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Bullock, was making her way west in a covered wagon. In 1871 he received his law license and he and Mary were married. She convinced him to quit mining and become a full time lawyer. He was 23 years of age and this same year he was elected to the Idaho House. He also served in the upper chamber, introducing a bill for women's suffrage in the 1874-75 session. In 1886, he was appointed U.S. Attorney. Governor from 1911 until 1913, Hawley's administration established highway districts, the State Board of Education, and a banking law.

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