Smith McPherson

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Smith McPherson

Smith McPherson (February 14, 1848 – January 17, 1915) was a Republican U.S. Representative from Iowa's now-obsolete 9th congressional district for one year, and a federal district court judge for over fourteen years.

Born near Mooresville, Indiana, McPherson attended the common schools and Mooresville Academy. He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in June 1870. He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Red Oak, Iowa. McPherson began serving as a State's attorney in 1872. In 1874, he became a district attorney of Third Judicial District of Iowa, serving in that position until 1880 (when he was elected as Iowa Attorney General). After serving as attorney general from 1881 to 1885, he returned to private practice in Red Oak until 1899.

In August 1898, McPherson defeated incumbent congressman Alva L. Hager and two others in the race for the Republican nomination in Iowa's 9th congressional district. For several days, no candidate received the required number of votes, but McPherson prevailed on the 618th ballot, after Hager threw his support to him.[1] He then prevailed in the general election. However, McPherson did not serve a complete term. Instead, he served in the Fifty-sixth Congress from March 4, 1899, until he resigned to accept the appointment of United States district judge for the Southern District of Iowa. He was nominated by President William McKinley on April 3, 1900, to a seat vacated by John S. Woolson. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 7, 1900, and received his commission the same day.

In his final year on the bench, he upheld the constitutionality of Iowa's workers' compensation statute against an attack by an employer alleging that it violated due process.[2]

McPherson served on the bench until his death in Red Oak on January 17, 1915. He was interred in Evergreen Cemetery.


  1. ^ "The Congressional Convention," Glenwood Opinion, 1898-08-25 at p. 4.
  2. ^ Hawkins v. Bleakley, 228 F. 378 (S.D. Iowa 1914).


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Alva L. Hager
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Walter I. Smith
Legal offices
Preceded by
John F. McJunkin
Attorney General of Iowa
Succeeded by
Andrew J. Baker
Preceded by
James M. Love
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
Succeeded by
Martin Joseph Wade