John H. Mitchell speeches and correspondence, 1869-1905

Overview of the Collection

Mitchell, John H. (John Hipple), 1835-1905
John H. Mitchell speeches and correspondence
1869-1905 (inclusive)
0.45 cubic feet, (1 legal document case)
Collection Number
Mss 831
Speeches and three items of correspondence of U.S. Senator John H. Mitchell (1935-1905). Mitchell was a U.S. senator for Oregon who servered at various points from the 1870s to the 1900s. In 1905, he was convicted of having accepted bribes, and he died while awaiting an appeal for his conviction.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

John Hipple Mitchell was born in 1835 in Washington County, Pennsylvania, with the name John Mitchell Hipple, and changed his name when he came to Oregon in 1860. The Oregonian newspaper would later allege that he had made the name change when he abandoned his first wife, Sarah Hoon, and fled Pennsylvania with his mistress.

Mitchell became city attorney of Portland, Oregon, in 1861, and in 1862 was elected to the Oregon Senate; during this time, he also had a private law practice. In 1873, he successfully challenged Henry W. Corbett for Corbett's seat in the U.S. Senate. He lost reelection in 1878, but returned to the Senate in 1885. In 1896, a political coalition led by Henry W. Corbett, Jonathan Bourne, and William U'Ren successfully blocked Mitchell's reelection by preventing a quorum in the Oregon legislature for its entire 40-day session. The legislature did not appoint a new senator until a special session in 1898, when it elected Joseph Simon. After his 1896 defeat, Mitchell returned to private practice, before he made a comeback and won a fourth term in the U.S. Senate in 1901. During his career in the Senate, Mitchell was successful in gaining federal appropriations for Oregon, such as funding for a U.S. government exhibit at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition.

Mitchell married Sadie Hoon in 1857; the couple had two children. In 1862, Mitchell remarried to Mattie Price, and they had six children.

On December 31, 1904, a federal grand jury indicted Mitchell on the charge that he had accepted bribes in exchange for influencing the General Land Office to approve fraudulent homestead patents that were then sold to lumber and livestock companies for a profit. Although Mitchell denied the charges, both his law partner and his private secretary testified against him. Mitchell was convicted in 1905. That December, Mitchell died from complications of dental surgery, while awaiting his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sources: John Hipple Mitchell (1835-1905), by Oliver Tatom, Oregon Encyclopedia,; "Oregon Land Fraud Trials (1904-1910)," by Oliver Tatom, Oregon Encyclopedia,; "Dictionary of Oregon History," second edition, 1989, edited by Howard McKinley Corning.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The bulk of the collection consists of printed copies of speeches that U.S. Senator John H. Mitchell delivered. The topics of these speeches include: tariff bills; Mitchell's opposition to Chinese immigration to the United States; Oregon's electoral vote in the 1876 U.S. presidential election; Mitchell's endorsement of a U.S.-controlled canal being built through Nicaragua; infrastructural improvements to the Columbia River; the 1890s debate over the use of silver for currency; and the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. The collection also includes a speech that Mitchell delivered before becoming a senator, and a speech he gave in response to being indicted for accepting bribes.

There are three items of correspondence in the collection: A May 8, 1890 telegram to James Lotan, regarding a bill for a tariff on wool; a May 8, 1891 letter to Thomas Guinean, which he had sent with a copy of a letter sent to Customs Collector for Alaska E. T. Hatch; and a printed letter to Republican Conference Chair Samuel Hughes, dated February 22, 1897, urging that Oregon Republican legislators appoint a new U.S. senator before the Oregon legislature adjourned.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

John H. Mitchell speeches and correspondence, Mss 831, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Speeches are arranged in chronological order.

Acquisition Information

Nineteen of the speeches were acquired between 1901 and 1908, and the others were likely acquired in a similar time frame. Telegraph to James Lotan was gift of Alfred Blaker, February 1960 (Lib. Acc. 8547); the other correspondence was most likely acquired in the early or mid-20th century.

Processing Note

Collection was titled "John H. Mitchell correspondence and speeches" prior to 2022. Collection was rearranged in 2022.

Related Materials

Other collections at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library that include Mitchell's papers are: Joel Palmer papers, Mss 114; Henry Failing papers, Mss 650; Galloway family papers, Mss 730; Philip Foster papers, Mss 996; John F. Calbreath papers, Mss 1027; Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition records, Mss 1609; Charles Wolverton papers, Mss 1661, and Henry Moorhead Montgomery papers, Mss 2298.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Correspondence 1890 May 8; 1891 May 8; 1897 February 22
1 2 Speech delivered at Olympia, Washington 1869 July 5
1 3 Speech opposing Chinese immigration to the United States (2 copies) 1876 May 16
1 4 Speech regarding impeachment of former U.S. Secretary of War William W. Belknap 1876 May 22
1 5 Speeches regarding Oregon's electoral vote in the U.S. presidential election 1876 December 15-19
1 6 Argument before the electoral commission regarding Oregon's electoral vote in the U.S. presidential election 1877 February 21
1 7 Speech regarding Senate bill No. 15, to alter and amend an act to build a railroad and telegraph line from Missouri to the Pacific 1878 March 20
1 8 Speech in favor of construction of a canal and locks at the cascades of the Columbia River, and alleging that the Oregon Steam Navigation Company is a monopoly 1878 May 29
1 9 Speeches about appropriations for construction of a canal and locks at the cascades of the Columbia River 1886 December 6-21
1 10 Speech about interstate commerce regulation 1887 January 12
1 11 Speech regarding Senate bill No. 566, to construct a boat railway around obstructions to navigation between The Dalles and Celilo Falls circa 1888
1 12 Issue of the Congressional Record with Mitchell's speech about a proposed tariff 1888 September 20
1 13 Speech about the taxing power of the U.S. constitution, in relation to House Resolution 7845 defining "options" and "futures" 1892 July 28
1 14 Speech about the extent of of state executives' power to temporarily appoint U.S. senators to fill a vacancy 1893 March 30
1 15 Speech about the issue of silver currency 1893 September 12
1 16 Speech about silver coinage 1894 March 15
1 17 Speech opposing House Resolution 4864 regarding tariffs, titled, "The Wilson Tariff Monstrosity" 1894 April 13
1 18 Speech delivered at unveiling of Daniel Webster statue in U.S. Congress 1894 December 20
1 19 Speech about legislation concerning incorporation of the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua 1895 January 7
1 20 Speeches regarding appointment of Henry A. DuPont as U.S. senator for Delaware 1896 March 4-5
1 21 Speech in favor of awarding pensions to Indian War veterans 1896 April 22
1 22 Speeches about regulations concerning filled cheese, and about the direct election of U.S. senators 1896 June 4-5
1 23 Speech in favor of the construction of a canal through Nicaragua under U.S. control 1896 December 21
1 24 Statement given in response to speech by U.S. Senator Joseph Simon that was critical of Mitchell 1900 March 12
1 25 Speech opposing a proposed bill to place a tariff on goods from the Philippines 1902 February 23
1 26 Speeches in favor of building a canal through Nicaragua 1902 June 5-7
1 27 Speech in favor of a Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition 1902 June 27
1 28 Speech in favor of a Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition 1903 December 17
1 29 Speech in response to criminal charges brought against Mitchell (2 copies) 1905 January 17

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Legislators--United States

Personal Names

  • Mitchell, John H. (John Hipple), 1835-1905

Corporate Names

  • United States. Congress. Senate

Geographical Names

  • United States--Politics and government

Form or Genre Terms

  • speeches (documents)