Smith McPherson

Smith McPherson
Smith McPherson - History of Iowa.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
In office
May 7, 1900 – January 17, 1915
Appointed byWilliam McKinley
Preceded byJohn Simson Woolson
Succeeded byMartin Joseph Wade
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1899 – June 6, 1900
Preceded byAlva L. Hager
Succeeded byWalter I. Smith
Attorney General of Iowa
In office
Preceded byJohn F. McJunkin
Succeeded byAndrew J. Baker
Personal details
Smith McPherson

(1848-02-14)February 14, 1848
Mooresville, Indiana
DiedJanuary 17, 1915(1915-01-17) (aged 66)
Red Oak, Iowa
Resting placeEvergreen Cemetery
Red Oak, Iowa
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of Iowa College of Law (LL.B.)

Smith McPherson (February 14, 1848 – January 17, 1915) was a United States Representative from Iowa and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

Education and career[edit]

Born on February 14, 1848, near Mooresville, Morgan County, Indiana,[1] McPherson attended the common schools and Mooresville Academy.[2] He received a Bachelor of Laws in 1870 from the University of Iowa College of Law.[1] He was admitted to the bar and entered private practice in Red Oak, Iowa from 1870 to 1874.[1] He was district attorney for the Third Judicial District of Iowa from 1874 to 1880.[1] He was Attorney General of Iowa from 1881 to 1885.[1] He resumed private practice in Red Oak from 1885 to 1899.[1]

Congressional service[edit]

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.[3] McPherson was then elected to the United States House of Representatives of the 56th United States Congress and served from March 4, 1899, until his resignation on June 6, 1900, to accept a federal judicial post.[2]

Federal judicial service[edit]

McPherson was nominated by President William McKinley on April 3, 1900, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa vacated by Judge John Simson Woolson.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 7, 1900, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on January 17, 1915, due to his death in Red Oak.[1] He was interred in Evergreen Cemetery in Red Oak.[2]

Notable case[edit]

In McPherson's 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.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Smith McPherson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c United States Congress. "Smith McPherson (id: M000594)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ "The Congressional Convention," Glenwood Opinion, 1898-08-25 at p. 4.
  4. ^ 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
John Simson Woolson
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
Succeeded by
Martin Joseph Wade