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James McMillan (politician)

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Title: James McMillan (politician)  
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Subject: McMillan Plan, Michigan-Peninsular Car Company, Dry Dock Complex (Detroit, Michigan), United States Commission of Fine Arts, List of United States Senators in the 57th Congress by seniority
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James McMillan (politician)

James McMillan
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
March 4, 1889 – August 10, 1902
Preceded by Thomas W. Palmer
Succeeded by Russell A. Alger
Personal details
Born (1838-05-12)May 12, 1838
Hamilton, Ontario
Died August 10, 1902(1902-08-10) (aged 64)
Manchester, Massachusetts (present-day Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts), U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary L. Wetmore
Children William Charles McMillan
Grace Fisher McMillan
James Howard McMillan
Amy McMillan
Philip Hamilton McMillan
Francis Wetmore McMillan

James McMillan (May 12, 1838 – August 10, 1902) was a businessman and a Republican U.S. Senator from Michigan.


McMillan was born in Michigan Car Company for the manufacture of freight cars. This business grew very rapidly, and in ten years it was one of the largest in the United States. Its success led to the formation of the Detroit Car Wheel Co., the Baugh Steam Forge Co., the Detroit Iron Furnace Co., and the Vulcan Furnace Co.

McMillan later built and became president of the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway. He was largely interested in shipbuilding and lake transportation companies. He was one of the largest owners of the Detroit and Cleveland Steam Navigation Co., and the Detroit Transportation Co., and was a director of several banks in Detroit. For three years he was president of the Detroit Board of Park Commissioners and for four years a member of the Detroit Board of Estimates. In 1886 he joined with John S. Newberry in contributing $100,000 each for the establishment and maintenance of a hospital in Detroit.

The National Mall was the centerpiece of the 1901 McMillan Plan. A central open vista traversed the length of the Mall.
McMillan was the only person to be elected Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party three non-consecutive times (1879, 1886 and 1890). He was a presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1884. He was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1889 and was reelected in 1895 and 1901, serving from March 4, 1889, until his death. He was a dominant figure in the party, leading the business interests especially in opposition to Progressive reformer Governor Hazen S. Pingree in 1897-1900.

He was chairman of the Committee on Manufactures in the Fifty-first and Fifty-second Congresses, and of the Committee on the District of Columbia in the Fifty-fourth through Fifty-seventh Congresses. He is also remembered for his chairmanship of the Senate Park Improvement Commission of the District of Columbia (better known as the McMillan Commission), which recommended the redesign of the National Mall to better reflect Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant's plan for Washington, D.C.. The McMillan Reservoir and the McMillan Sand Filtration Site in DC also bear his name.


McMillan died in Manchester, Massachusetts and is interred in Elmwood Cemetery, in Detroit. He was survived by his wife Mary and their six children: William Charles, Grace Fisher, James Howard, Amy, Philip Hamilton and Francis Wetmore.

See also


  • American National Biography
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Drutchas, Geoffrey G. "Gray Eminence in a Gilded Age: The Forgotten Career of Senator James McMillan of Michigan." Michigan Historical Review
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