Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn

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Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn
United States Senator
from Kentucky
In office
March 4, 1885 – March 4, 1897
Preceded by John S. Williams
Succeeded by William J. Deboe
In office
March 4, 1901 – March 4, 1907
Preceded by William Lindsay
Succeeded by Thomas H. Paynter
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1885
Preceded by James B. Beck
Succeeded by William C. P. Breckinridge
Personal details
Born (1838-10-01)October 1, 1838
Spring Station, Kentucky
Died September 12, 1918(1918-09-12) (aged 79)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic

Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn (October 1, 1838 – September 12, 1918) was a Democratic Representative and Senator from Kentucky. He was the younger brother of Kentucky governor Luke P. Blackburn.[1] Blackburn, a skilled and spirited orator, was also a prominent trial lawyer known for his skill at swaying juries.

Life and career

Blackburn was born near Spring Station, Kentucky. He attended Sayres Institute in Frankfort and graduated from Centre College in Danville in 1857. He studied law in Lexington and was admitted to the bar in 1858. He practiced in Chicago until 1860 when he returned to Woodford County, Kentucky and entered the Confederate Army as a private in 1861.

A staff officer, by the end of the Civil War Blackburn had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war he settled in Arkansas where he was engaged as a lawyer and a planter in Desha County until 1868 when he returned to Kentucky and opened law offices in Versailles.

Blackburn, by Mathew Brady

He was a member of the State house of representatives from 1871 to 1875. He was then elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1875 - March 3, 1885). He was the chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia (Forty-fifth Congress) and the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of War (Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth Congresses).

In 1885, Lt. Henry T. Allen of the U.S. army named a mountain after Joseph Blackburn. Mount Blackburn is the highest peak in the Wrangell Mountains of the state of Alaska and the fifth highest peak in the United States.

He was elected to the United States Senate in 1884, was reelected in 1890, and served from March 4, 1885, to March 3, 1897. He failed to be reelected in 1896. He was the chairman of the Committee on Rules (Fifty-third Congress). He was once again elected to the United States Senate in 1900 and served from March 4, 1901 to March 3, 1907, but failed in his next election bid in 1906. Loosely associated with the free-silver wing of the Democratic party, he was well-known nationally and his name was placed in nomination for the presidency in 1896.

He was appointed Governor of the Panama Canal Zone by President Theodore Roosevelt on April 1, 1907. He resigned in November 1909 and returned to his estate in Woodford County.

He died in Washington, D.C. and was interred in the State Cemetery in Frankfort.


  1. Baird, Nancy Disher (1979). Luke Pryor Blackburn: Physician, Governor, Reformer. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-0248-0. 


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James B. Beck
United States Representative from Kentucky's 7th District
Succeeded by
William Breckinridge
United States Senate
Preceded by
John S. Williams
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Kentucky
Served alongside: James B. Beck, John G. Carlisle, William Lindsay
Succeeded by
William J. Deboe
Preceded by
William Lindsay
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
Served alongside: William J. Deboe, James B. McCreary
Succeeded by
Thomas H. Paynter