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James Bedell McKean (August 5, 1821 Hoosick, Rensselaer County, New York - January 5, 1879 Salt Lake City, Utah) was an American politician from New York and Utah.

Early life[]

He was one of the professors in Jonesville Academy for some time. He was the Superintendent of the Common Schools of Halfmoon, New York in 1842.

McKean was elected colonel of the One Hundred and Forty-fourth Regiment, New York State Militia, in 1844. Then he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1849, and commenced practice in Ballston Spa, New York. He moved to Saratoga Springs, New York in 1851. He was First Judge of the Saratoga County Court from 1855 to 1858.

McKean was elected as a Republican to the 36th and 37th United States Congresses, and served from March 4, 1859, to March 3, 1863. He was Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of State.

During the American Civil War, he organized the Seventy-seventh Regiment, New York Volunteers, in 1861 and served as colonel of the regiment until July 27, 1863, when he resigned his commission.

He was appointed treaty commissioner to Honduras in 1865. In 1867, he ran for Secretary of State of New York on the Republican ticket, but was defeated by Democrat Homer Augustus Nelson.

He was appointed Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the Utah Territory by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870 and served until 1875.

He was interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.

Samuel McKean was his uncle.


  • James B. McKean at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2009-04-17
  • [1] Bio at On-line Biographies, transcribed from Our County and Its People - a descriptive and biographical record of Saratoga County, NY (The Boston History Co. Publ. 1899) [gives, like all contemporaneous sources, Hoosick as birthplace; "Bennington" appears only from 1978 on, probably a listing mistake which has been copied and perpetuated]
  • The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (page 364; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858) [gives wrong middle initial "D."]