Sunday, June 19, 2016

Idaho Chief Justice, Businessman, and Educator James F. Ailshie [otd 06/19]

James Franklin Ailshie, Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, was born June 19, 1868 in Greene County, Tennessee, 50-70 miles east of Knoxville. He attended a "noted preparatory school" through his junior year and then moved to Missouri, where he taught school. After a couple years there, he took a Principal’s job in Washington state. Ailshie then attended Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Waller Hall, Willamette University, 1880.
Salem Public Library Collections.

Ailshie received his B.A. and LL.B. degrees from Willamette in 1891, then moved to Grangeville, Idaho to establish a practice. By that time, the town had substantially outgrown nearby Mount Idaho. In 1892 and again in 1898, Grangeville citizen tried unsuccessfully to capture the county seat designation. (They finally succeeded in 1902.) In addition to his thriving law practice, Ailshie served two terms as a Regent of the University of Idaho, starting in 1893.

Ailshie was elected to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1902 and moved to Boise the following year. Reelected to the Court, he served until his resignation in 1914. During four of his years on the Court, he served as Chief Justice and was, at one time, the youngest Chief Justice on any state Supreme Court.

In 1909, Willamette University honored him with a Doctor of Laws degree. James H. Hawley noted in 1920 that "About two-thirds of the [Idaho] constitution was tested in the court during his service on the bench."

While not on the Court, Ailshie was very active in Republican Party politics. In 1898, delegates to the state convention of the Republican Party elected him as convention president. In 1900, 1916, and 1932, he served as delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1913, he missed election to the U.S. Senate by just four votes in the legislature.
Justice Ailshie.
University of Idaho Special collections.

Ailshie resigned from the Court in 1914 to run for a U. S. Senate seat under the new direct election mode dictated by the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution. He had hoped to resign earlier, but the illness of Justice George Stewart [blog, Feb 26] delayed that. (Stewart died the following September.) After his failed run – which he blamed partly on his inability to campaign – he moved from Boise to Coeur d'Alene and resumed his private practice.

Ailshie was President of the Idaho State Bar Association in 1921-22 and was a long-time member of the their Board of Commissioners. He also served three years on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association, and over a decade on that organization's General Council.

In the late Twenties and early Thirties, he was a member of the Idaho Law Journal Board of Advisers. During that period, he also served on the state Commission on Uniform State Laws. That Commission advises the legislature on laws that should be revised to be more consistent with the laws in other state.

Besides serving on the University of Idaho Board of Regents, Ailshie taught there at the College of Law, lecturing on "mining law and legal ethics." For a time while practicing law in Coeur d'Alene, he owned a farm-ranch operation near Grangeville. He was also President of the Grangeville Light & Power Company and Director of a bank there.

Ailshie again served on the Supreme Court in 1939-41, and from 1945 until his death in May 1947.
                                                                                 
References: [Defen], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
“James Franklin Ailshie: Biographical Sketch,” James Franklin Ailshie Papers 1902-1931, Manuscript Group 9, University of Idaho Special Collections (July 1997).
Ben Ysursa, Idaho Blue Book, 2003-2004, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (2003).

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post. This is excellent information.
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  2. Thanks for this valuable info on my great-great uncle. He was the older brother of my great-grandmother Alice Ailshie Haun.

    ReplyDelete