James William Denver

James William Denver was born October 23, 1817, on his father's farm, near Winchester, Virginia. At thirteen he moved with his parents to Wilmington, Ohio, where he studied civil engineering. He was successively a surveyor, schoolteacher, lawyer, and newspaper editor in the years before the Mexican War, eventually settling in Platte City, Missouri. In 1847, he raised a company of volunteers which participated in General Winfield Scott's campaign against the city of Mexico. He was drawn to California in 1850 by the gold rush, and in 1852 he was elected to the state senate. The same year he killed the editor of California's leading newspaper in a duel over a criticism of Denver's management of the supply trains authorized by the legislature for the succor of overland emigrants. In 1853 he was secretary of the state of California and from 1855 to 1857 served as a Democrat in Congress. In the latter year, President Buchanan appointed him successively commissioner of Indian Affairs and secretary of Kansas Territory and in 1858, governor of the territory which included the present state of Colorado. He established Arapahoe County while governor and the city of Denver was named in his honor. Subsequently, he returned to California and sought unsuccessfully to be elected United States Senator. He then returned to Ohio. On August 14, 1861, Abraham Lincoln, recalling Denver's services during the earlier Kansas troubles, appointed him a brigadier general of volunteers and assigned him to command the troops in that state as a sort of inspector general. In the course of the siege and capture of Corinth, subsequent to the battle of Shiloh, Denver commanded a brigade in W. T. Sherman's division. Thereafter, he was employed mainly in garrison duty in protecting the Federal supply lines until he resigned his commission on March 5, 1863. When the war ended, General Denver commenced the practice of law in Washington. The next year he was a delegate to the Soldiers' Convention at Cleveland and in 1870 was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress from his old home in Ohio. He remained active politically until his death in Washington on August 9, 1892. He was buried in Wilmington.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.