Broadhead, James Overton

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James Overton Broadhead was born May 29, 1819, in Charlottesville, Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia from 1835 to 1836, studied law in St. Louis, Missouri, and received his license and established his law practice in Bowling Green, Missouri, in 1842.

In 1845, Broadhead began his political career as a member of the Missouri Constitutional Convention. In the following year he participated in the Missouri House of Representatives, and in 1850 became a member of the Missouri Senate, serving until 1853.

Broadhead returned to the practice of law, becoming a partner in a St. Louis firm in 1859.

During the pre-Civil War era, Broadhead participated in activities that opposed the Southern cause. He was instrumental in the formation of the Committee of Safety, which restricted the influence of pro-Southern factions in St. Louis, and in 1861 was a member of the Missouri Constitutional Convention, which declared the loyalty of Missouri to the Union.

In 1875, Broadhead attended the Missouri State Constitutional Convention, and in 1876, he gained prominence as government counsel for the Whiskey Ring cases, which involved bribery and dishonesty in the collection of exorbitant liquor taxes.

From 1883 to 1885, Broadhead represented Missouri in the United States House of Representatives, and was a member of the Judiciary Committee. During his later years, he served abroad, acting first as special commissioner to France in 1885, and later as minister to Switzerland for a two-year period.

"If every … American citizen would perform the duties of a citizen … there would be no occasion of invoking the strong arm of arbitrary power to protect a person or his property."
—James Broadhead

Broadhead died August 7, 1898, in St. Louis.