James B. Pearson

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James Blackwood Pearson

In office
January 31, 1962 – December 23, 1978
Preceded by Andrew Frank Schoeppel
Succeeded by Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker

Chairman of the Kansas
Republican Party
In office
August 30, 1960 – December 8, 1960
Preceded by Sam Mellinger
Succeeded by Donald Schnacke

Kansas State Senator
for District 6
In office
January 8, 1957 – January 10, 1961
Preceded by John Anderson, Jr.
Succeeded by Clark Kuppinger

Born May 7, 1920
Nashville, Tennessee
Died January 13, 2009 (aged 88)
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Resting place Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Martha Mitchell Pearson (1921–2000; divorced)

(2) Margaret Lynch Pearson (born 1937; married 1980–2009, his death)[1]

Children From first marriage:

James, William, Thomas, and Laura

John William and Lillian Blackwood Pearson

Alma mater Duke University
(Bachelor of Arts)

University of Virginia
School of Law School (LLB)

Occupation Attorney

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II

James Blackwood Pearson (May 7, 1920 – January 13, 2009) was a Republican from Kansas who served as the state's United States Senator from 1962 to 1978. He was previously the chair of the Kansas GOP in 1960 and a state senator from the 6th district prior to that.


A native of the capital city of Nashville, Tennessee, Pearson was the son of John William Pearson (1883–1954), a Methodist minister, and the former Lillian Blackwood (1881–1944). The family moved to Virginia in 1934. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. His education was interrupted during World War II with service as a pilot in the United States Navy, for which he flew DC3's across the country (1943–1946) and was discharged as a lieutenant.[2]

Stationed at the Olathe Naval Air Station in Kansas, Pearson met and married the former Martha Mitchell. He graduated from the law school of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1950 and was admitted to the bar. He practiced in Mission in Johnson County in suburban Kansas City.

Political career

He was an assistant county attorney from 1952 to 1954; County Probate Judge from 1954 to 1956; and state Senator from 1956 to 1960. He later lived in Baldwin City in Douglas County. Pearson did not seek a second term as state senator and resumed his law practice. Pearson campaigned with state Attorney General John Anderson, Jr., for governor in 1960. Anderson was elected and Pearson became the state GOP chairman.

U.S. Senate

On January 31, 1962, Anderson appointed Pearson to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Andrew Frank Schoeppel (1894–1962).[3] He won the special election for the seat[4] and was reelected to full terms in 1966[5] and 1972.[6]

Pearson initially voted regularly with the leadership of his party, opposing much of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs. However, like his Kansas Republican colleague, Frank Carlson, he moderated his positions over time. For instance, he had supported the bombing of Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War until the Kent State protests on May 4, 1970, which led to the shooting death of four students. Like many other Moderate Republicans, he relished in working with colleagues across the political aisle,[7] such as his partnership with Democrat Lloyd Bentsen of Texas in the passage of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978.[2] He was a member of the Wednesday Club, a group of liberal to moderate Republicans trying to find common ground with the Democrats.


  1. Margaret Pearson (L), 83 - Washington, DC Public Reputation Profile at MyLife.com, accessed July 5, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 James Blackwood Pearson (1920-2009) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 5, 2021.
  3. J.B. Pearson Named to Schoeppel Senate Seat; Republican Lawyer Is Chosen by Kansas Governor Anderson Will Seek a Second Term as Head of State. The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  4. KS US Senate - Special Election Race - Nov 06, 1962. Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  5. KS US Senate Race - Nov 08, 1966. Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  6. KS US Senate Race - Nov 07, 1972. Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  7. Holley, Joe (January 19, 2009). Progressive Republican Was a Kansas Senator. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 5, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress