James “Tama Jim” Wilson was a Scottish-American politician who served as United States Secretary of Agriculture for sixteen years during three presidencies, from 1897 to 1913. Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1835, “Tama Jim” grew up in a farming community near the birthplace of famous poet Robert Burns. Upon immigrating to the United States, Wilson served as a professor of agriculture at Iowa State University, was a member of the Iowa and United States House of Representatives, and served as Secretary of Agriculture for William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Taft. During this time, he worked closely with land grant universities (including SDSU) and professors, sending N.E. Hansen on multiple trips through the years. William McKinley once noted had it not been for Wilson’s birth in Scotland, he would have undoubtedly been elected President of the United States. James Wilson died at the age of 85 in 1920, and still holds the record as the longest-serving United States Cabinet member.
- Iowa State University Biography
- Iowa State University Archives Artifact Listing
- South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum’s “Groundbreakers” Exhibit*