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James Grimes: A Featured Biography


Senator James Grimes

Iowan James Grimes served in the U.S. Senate throughout the Civil War and into the Reconstruction period. In 1861 he participated in the Peace Convention in Washington, D.C., which ultimately failed to prevent the Civil War. As chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs, Grimes proposed a naval service award that became the model of the Medal of Honor established by Congress in 1863. Presented by the president, in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor recognizes "non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguished themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier like qualities." Perhaps most famously, Grimes became one of the seven Republican senators who broke with their party and voted with twelve Democratic senators to acquit President Andrew Johnson in his 1868 impeachment trial.