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Hon. James Mackenzie


The late Judge Mackenzie, long a resident and leading citizen of Lima, both inherited and won fame. As the son of his father he was distinguished, but he was more so because of his own brilliant intellect and conspicuous services in the editorial field and as a member of the bench and bar of Northwestern Ohio. He was born in Dundee, Scotland, July 14,1814, and was a son of William Lyon Mackenzie, M. P. William Lyon Mackenzie was born in Scotland, March 12, 1795.


In 1820 he removed to Canada and four years later established the Colonial Advocate at Toronto. In 1828 he was elected to the Provincial Parliament for York and at once entered upon a public career that aroused both personal enthusiasm and great animosity. He was the leader of the great Reform party and in 1832, upon the termination of his first service in Parliament, was sent as a delegate to London with a petition of grievances. Elected the first mayor of Toronto, in 1834, he continued to insist on reformatory movements in every branch of the government, publicly attacked the Lieutenant General of the Dominion in his newspaper, the Constitution, and in 1837, despairing of redress, headed a band of armed insurgents who demanded of this high official a settlement of grievances complained of. Long since, reforms far more radical than ever demanded by Mackenzie and his followers have been granted, but the times were not yet ripe and the reformer was excluded from Canada, and resided in the United States until the amnesty proclamation of 1849, when he returned to Canada and was there conspicuous in public life until his death, being a member of Parliament from 1850 until 1858. His death occurred at Toronto in 1861. 


James Mackenzie learned the printing business with his father and could not fail to be in sympathy with the latter in his great ideas for the free government of Canada. In 1837 he came to the United States and took part with the insurgents in the fighting on the frontier, with youthful enthusiasm assisting in all the insurrectionary movements. He was his father's closest friend and sympathizer and later he started a newspaper at Lockport, New York, designed to help the Canadian cause, naming it the Freeman's Advocate. This journal was widely circulated, especially along the frontier, but was discontinued in 1839, for reasons of expediency. At a later date Mr. Mackenzie was engaged by Vick & Company, of Rochester, New York, who were then conducting a daily paper- the Workingmen's Advocate - in the interests of the American working man, as their editor, and when they sold out to a successor who established the Rochester Advertiser, Mr. Mackenzie came to Ohio and Located at Cleveland where he resumed his law studies which he had previously commenced at Lockport, New York, and was prepared by the firm of Bishop & Backus for the bar, to which he was admitted in 1843.  His selection of a field for practice was Henry County, Ohio, and while awaiting cases he taught school and entered into politics, being elected
township clerk and, in 1844, prosecuting attorney of Henry County. The latter position he resigned in 1845 and removed to Putnam County, where he could not resist the temptation to reenter journalism, purchasing the Kalida Venture, a paper of Democratic politics, which was generously supported in Putnam and other counties as soon as he assumed its management and which he ably conducted for 10 years. He soon became a leader in political life in Putnam County and in 1846 was elected prosecuting attorney, being subsequently re-elected in 1848 and 1850. In 1853 he was elected a member of the Ohio State Legislature and after a term of faithful service was again made prosecuting attorney of Putnam County in 1856.


The removal of Mr. Mackenzie to Allen County in 1858 was only a breaking of old ties to make new ones. For two and a half years he was editor and publisher of the Allen County Democrat, and in 1861 and 1863 he was elected prosecuting attorney of Allen County. In the fall of 1865 he was elected judge of the Court of Common Pleas, to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge Metcalf, was elected judge in 1869 and again in 1874, completing his long term of judicial service in February, 1879, retiring from the bench with the respect and esteem of the members of the bar of Allen, Putnam, and Shelby counties. 


Upon leaving the bench, Judge Mackenzie resumed the practice of the law at Lima, in partnership with Theodore D. Robb.  Added years only brought increased honors and his name is numbered with the eminent ones of his profession in his adopted State. He was a man scrupulously upright and he never could be convinced that a question was right unless his judgment told him so. This solid judicial sense, with a kind of intellectual honesty and freedom from all bias, made him admirably fitted for so responsible a position as that of judge. He was also an effective advocate and his wise counsel preserved peace on many occasions when a less honest man would have advocated appealing to the machinery of the law.  Judge Mackenzie was married to Lucina P. Leonard, and they had seven children, the two sons being Eugene C. and William L., the latter being a member of the law firm of Motter, Mackenzie, & Weadock, of Lima.  In closing this review of a notable man, it is right to add that all during the Civil War Judge Mackenzie's sympathies were with the Union cause, his inherent love of liberty and freedom making him all his life opposed to slavery. He died at Lima, Ohio, on the 9th of May 1901. His death left a great vacancy among the ranks of a profession, which, in Allen County, has numbered many brilliant men.