Biography of Hon. Eugene Semple

HON. EUGENE SEMPLE. – Eugene Semple was born June 12, 1840, at Bogota, South America, his father being at the time the Minister of the United States at new Granada. Coming with his parents to Illinois, his youth was spent in Madison and Jersey counties of that State. Attending the common schools of the latter county, he finished his education at the St. Louis University in 1858. Commencing the study of law in the office of Krum & Harding, in St. Louis, he afterwards attended the Law School of the Cincinnati College, where he graduated in 1863, taking the degree of LL.B.

General James Semple, of Illinois, father of Eugene Semple, took a prominent part in the movement that caused the Oregon country to be settled by Americans, and thus saved to the Unite States. He made speeches at Springfield, Illinois, in 1842, and at Cincinnati in1843, taking strong grounds in favor of “fifty-four forty or fight.” Afterwards, when a United States Senator from Illinois, he was an ardent supporter of the same policy, and introduced a resolution to terminate the treaty of joint occupation with Great Britain.

The speeches and conversations of his father, and the accounts of the Oregon country given by the fur traders of St. Louis, awakened in young Semple a strong desire to go to the far West and it was with difficulty his friends persuaded him to wait until his education was finished. Immediately after graduating at the law school, however, he set out for Portland, Oregon, and upon his arrival opened a law office. He practiced his profession until 1870,when he became the editor of the Daily Oregon Herald, then the leading organ of the Democratic party in the Pacific Northwest. The motto of the Herald, formulated by Mr. Semple was, “In all Discussions of American Policy with Us, Liberty Goes First.”

Mr. Semple has been state printer of Oregon, clerk of the circuit court, police commissioner of the city of Portland, and is an attorney of the supreme court of the United States. In 1882 he removed to Vancouver, Washington Territory, and engaged in the manufacture of lumber, and is at present operating extensive sawmills in that city.

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He was appointed governor of Washington Territory, and ably administered the duties of that high office, with universal satisfaction, until relieved by his successor in 1889. He was the candidate of the Democratic party of Washington for state governor, but was defeated, the Republicans electing their entire ticket. During his career as a lawyer, editor, legislator, governor or in private life he has borne an unsullied reputation, and well merits the confidence reposed in him by the public at large. Being just in the meridian of life, he has many years of usefulness to the Pacific Northwest before him.

Mr. Semple was married in 1870 to Miss Ruth A. Lownsdale, a daughter of Daniel H. Lownsdale, a pioneer of 1845. The fruits of the union are four children, Maud, Zoe, Ethel, and one son Eugene.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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