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James H. Lane (politician)


James H. Lane (politician)

For the Confederate general with the same name, see James Henry Lane (Confederate general).
James Henry Lane
United States Senator from Kansas
In office
April 4, 1861 – July 11, 1866
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by Edmund G. Ross
Personal details
Born (1814-06-22)June 22, 1814
Lawrenceburg, Indiana, U.S.
Died July 11, 1866(1866-07-11) (aged 52)
Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary E. Lane
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Union Army
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

James Henry Lane also known as Jim Lane (June 22, 1814 – July 11, 1866) was a partisan during the Bleeding Kansas period that immediately preceded the American Civil War. During the war, Lane served as a United States Senator and as a general who fought for the Union. Although reelected as a Senator in 1865, Lane committed suicide the following year.


The son of Amos Lane, Lane was born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana,[1] where he practiced law when he was admitted to the bar in 1840. He was a U.S. congressman from Indiana (1853–1855) where he voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

He moved to the Kansas Territory in 1855. He immediately became involved in the abolitionist movement in Kansas, and was often called the leader of the Jayhawkers, a leading Free Soil militant group. After the Free Soilers succeeded in getting Kansas admitted to the Union in 1861 as a free state, Lane was elected as one of the new state's first U.S. Senators, and reelected in 1865. During that time he presided over the Topeka convention.

Civil War

During the American Civil War, in addition to his Senate service, Lane raised a brigade of Jayhawkers known as the "Kansas Brigade", or "Lane's Brigade", composed of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Kansas Volunteers. He led this mixed force into action against pro-Southern general Sterling Price in the Battle of Dry Wood Creek as Price began an offensive early in the war to retake Missouri for the pro-Confederate state government that had been deposed by pro-Union forces. Lane lost the battle but stayed behind and attacked pro-South pockets in Missouri behind Price. His raids culminated in the Sacking of Osceola, in which Lane's forces killed at least nine men, then pillaged, looted, and then burned the town; these events inspired the novel Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter, which was the basis for the 1976 Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales. Lane was severely criticized for his actions in Osceola, most severely by General Henry Halleck, Commander of the Department of Missouri. Of their actions, he would state: "The course pursued by those under Lane and Jennison has turned against us many thousands who were formerly Union men. A few more such raids will make this State unanimous against us." Thus, Lane's Brigade was ended.[2]

On December 18, 1861 Lane was appointed brigadier general of volunteers. On Mar 21, 1862, his commission was canceled in culmination of an argument over whether a sitting U.S. Senator could concurrently hold the rank of general.[3] However on April 11, 1862 he was reinstated as brigadier general of volunteers with the confirmation of the U.S. Senate. During 1862–1863 he served as recruiting commissioner for the state of Kansas.

On October 27–29, 1862, U.S. Senator Jim Lane recruited the 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry (Colored) who debuted at the Skirmish at Island Mound. They are the first African-American troops to fight in the war, a year before the 54th Massachusetts. In their first action, 30 of their members defeated 130 mounted Confederate guerrillas.[4]

Lane was the target of the event that became the Lawrence Massacre (or Quantrill's Raid) on August 21, 1863. Confederate guerillas could be heard shouting, "Remember Osceola!" Though Lane was in residence in Lawrence at the time, he was able to escape the attack by racing through a cornfield in his nightshirt.

In 1864 when Sterling Price invaded Missouri, Lane served as a volunteer aide-de-camp to Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Army of the Border. Lane was with the victorious Union forces at the battle of Westport.

Death and legacy

Lane had survived many hardships in his life, including fighting in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. But on July 1, 1866 he shot himself[5] in the head as he jumped from his carriage in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was allegedly deranged, depressed, had been charged with abandoning his fellow Radical Republicans and had been accused of financial irregularities. He died ten days later near Leavenworth, Kansas, a result of the self-inflicted gunshot. Edmund G. Ross was appointed to succeed him in the Senate.

The following places were named in honor of the late senator:

See also


External links

  • Retrieved on 2008-02-19
  • James H. Lane at Territorial Kansas Online
  • James H. Lane at PBS: New Perspectives on The West
  • James H. Lane at NNDB
  • James H. Lane at Mr. Lincoln's White House
  • Senator Jim at Bull Run
Preceded by
Samuel W. Parker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 4th congressional district

March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855
Succeeded by
William Cumback
Preceded by
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kansas
March 4, 1861 – July 11, 1866
Served alongside: Samuel C. Pomeroy
Succeeded by
Edmund G. Ross

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