Ira Harris

Ira Harris

Infobox Senator
name=Ira Harris

width= 200px
jr/sr=United States Senator
state=New York
party= Whig, Republican
term=March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1867
preceded=William H. Seward
succeeded=Roscoe Conkling
date of birth=birth date|1802|5|31|mf=y
place of birth=Charleston, New York, U.S.
date of death=death date and age|1875|12|2|1802|5|31|mf=y
place of death=Albany, New York, U.S.
spouse=Clarissa T. Harris
Pauline Rathbone
profession=Lawyer, Politician, Judge, Professor

Ira Harris (May 31, 1802 – December 2, 1875) was an American jurist and senator from New York. He was also a friend of Abraham Lincoln's.

Harris was born in Charleston, New York on May 31, 1802. He grew up on a farm in New York. Graduated from Union College in 1824, he studied law in Albany and in 1828 he was admitted to the bar. During the next seventeen years he attained a high rank in his profession. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1844 to 1845. He joined the Whig Party and in 1846 was state senator and a delegate to the New York constitutional convention. In 1848 he became judge of the New York Supreme Court, serving for twelve years.

In 1861 he was appointed senator from New York to take the place of William H. Seward who resigned when appointed Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln. In the senate, Harris served on the committee on foreign relations and judiciary and the select joint committee on the southern states. Although he supported the administration in the main, he did not fear to express his opposition to all measures, however popular at the time, that did not appear to him either wise or just. He visited Lincoln at the White House often and grew a friendship with him. He was also a good friend of his precessor in the senate William H. Seward. Harris' son, William Harris, was a colonel in the Army Ordnance Department. Harris' daughter, Clara Harris, and his stepson/future son-in-law, Henry Rathbone (Clara and Henry where married in 1867, but where also step siblings, Harris having gotten remarried to Pauline Rathbone, Henry's mother) were the Lincoln's guests at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 when the president was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth. Booth also stabbed Rathbone in the arm when he tried to stop the assassin from escaping.

Judge Harris was for more than twenty years professor of equity, jurisprudence and practice in the Albany Law School and during his senatorial term delivered a course of lectures at the law school of Columbian University, Washington, D.C.. He died in Albany, New York on December 2, 1875 and is interned at Albany Rural Cemetery with his first wife Clarissa.

His grandson, Henry Riggs Rathbone, later became a congressman from Illinois from 1923 to his death in 1928.

External links

* [ Mr. Lincoln and New York: Ira Harris]
* [ Ira Harris] at Find A Grave
* [ Biography at Buford Boys]

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