Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James Wallace (1818-1887)
MSA SC 3520-12980


Born March 14, 1818 in Dorchester County, Maryland.  Son of Robert Wallace and Susan (LeCompte) Wallace.   Married Annie E. Phelps on December 12, 1843. Buried at Cambridge Cemetery, Cambridge, Maryland.

After attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennslyvania, James Wallace returned to his home in Dorchester County in 1840. Wallace studied law under Henry Page in Cambridge, Maryland and was admitted to the bar in 1842.[1]

As a member of the Whig party, James Wallace began a successful career in politics in 1854 when he represented Dorchester County in the House of Delegates.[2] Wallace then served as a presidental elector from Maryland under the 1856 Fillmore ticket, and in the state Senate for both the 1856 and 1858 sessions.[3] In 1857, he was among the names mentioned rumored to be the next governor of Maryland.[4] While serving as a senator for Dorchester County, Wallace was on several committees including one alongside Samuel Owings Hoffman and William Lingan Gaither to commission a painting of "George Washington resigning his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Contiental Army in the Old Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House." The committee ultimately selected American artist Edwin White whose painting, Washington Resigning His Commission (1859) hung in the Old Senate Chamber until 1904 when it was then moved to the New Annex of the State House where it remains today.[5]

During the Civil War, James Wallace founded the 1st Regiment Eastern Shore Maryland Volunteer Infantry of the U.S. Army in 1861, of which he was Colonel. Wallace's volunteer infantry ultimately fought at the Battle of Gettysburg against the Confederate First Maryland Regiment. In a letter to Governor Bradford, Wallace spoke of his company: "Since March last we have held [the Confederate Army] alone & guarded a coast, penetrated in every direction by creeks, inlets, rivers, & bays, stretching over a space of one hundred or more miles, secured many valuable prizes & broken up the contraband traffic with the Enemy across the bay more effectively than all the gun boats on the Chesapeake."[6] Wallace resigned that same year in December of 1863.[7]

After the war, James Wallace returned to Cambridge where he founded Wallace & Millbourne of Cambridge law practice. In 1867, he served as the Dorchester County delegate at the 1867 Constitution Convention of Maryland. In 1870, Wallace founded Wallace & Son of Cambridge, a fruit and vegetable market that was the first to grow peaches on a large, commercial scale in Dorchester County. Along with peaches, Wallace expanded the oyster industry of the county and owned several farms in the area.[8]

James Wallace died of cancer on February 12, 1887 in Baltimore, Maryland.[9]

[1] "Death of Col. Wallace." The Baltimore Sun, 14 February 1887.
"Death of Col. Wallace." The Baltimore Sun, 14 February 1887.
[3] ELECTORAL COLLEGE (Maryland Proceedings), 1856, MSA S81-1, vol. 208 p.109.
[4] "Next Governor of Maryland," Annapolis Gazette, 12 February 1857.
[5] GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Laws), 1858, MdHR 820935-1, vol.624 p.9.
[6] ADJUTANT GENERAL (Civil War Papers) Letter from Col. James Wallace to Gov. Bradford, 15 October 1862 [MSA S935-10, 2/5/3/1].
[7] United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, "Col. James Wallace's report from the Battle of Gettysburg, 4 July 1863; Series 1 - Volume 27 (Part I)." Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
[8] "Death of Col. Wallace." The Baltimore Sun, 14 February 1887.
[9] "Death of Col. Wallace." The Baltimore Sun, 14 February 1887.

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