VICKSBURG FACTS: Vicksburg’s first Ways and Means Committee Chairman

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 12, 2023

Did you know that Vicksburg’s James William Collier was the first Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to hail from the city?

James William Collier was born on Glenwood Plantation near Vicksburg on Sept. 28, 1872, according to the Clarion-Ledger’s Sept. 29, 1933 edition.

While in Vicksburg, he received his early education at public school and then went on to the University of Mississippi. After graduating he married fellow Vicksburg native, Emma Klein. 

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Collier began his political career in 1895 when he was elected to the legislature and served for one term during the McLaurin administration, according to the Clarion-Ledger’s Sept. 29, 1933, edition. He also served as Warren County’s Circuit Clerk from 1899 to 1907. Collier then went on to replace John Sharp Williams after his retirement as a member of the House of Representatives. 

He continued to serve in the House of Representatives for 24 years.

“He served continuously in this capacity from 1907 until the beginning of the Roosevelt administration when he withdrew from the race after a state controversy over the redistricting act,” the Clarion-Ledger wrote on Sept. 29, 1933.

During his first congressional term, Collier was placed on the Ways and Means Committee. By 1930, “when the democratic landslide came in that gave the House of Representatives control to the Democrats, he was elevated by the seniority to be chairman of that important committee.”

Collier was able to be one of the few in Mississippi to be a part of this important committee and become the first chairman from Mississippi.

“Mississippi has never had but three members on this committee and none ever became Chairman,” according to the Clarion-Ledger on Aug. 17, 1924. 

During his political career, Collier was supportive of building an efficient future.

“Collier has earnestly supported all legislation for the benefit of agriculture, in the interest of good roads and for levee protection and flood control,” according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Collier would also often give his opinion on how President Woodrow Wilson was handling the First World War to reassure the public of the President’s plan.

“Collier is thoroughly optimistic as to the ability of President Wilson to continue to handle the delicate and sensitive situation existing by reason of the European war on the one hand and the unsettled conditions in Mexico on the other,” Vicksburg Evening Post reported on Oct. 11, 1915.

Eventually, Collier was then appointed to the tariff commission by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Collier died in 1933 at the age of 61 due to a heart attack.