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Martin Wade, Bain News Service, undated

Martin Joseph Wade (October 20, 1861 - April 16, 1931) was a one-term Democratic U.S. Representative from Iowa's 2nd congressional district, and a U.S. District Court judge.



Born in Burlington, Vermont, Wade moved to Iowa with his parents at an early age, eventually settling on a farm in Butler County, Iowa.[1] He attended the common schools and St. Joseph's College (later Columbia University), in Dubuque, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1886. He was admitted to the bar the same year and practiced in Iowa City from 1886 to 1893. He served as judge of the eighth judicial district of Iowa from 1893 to 1903. He was a lecturer at University of Iowa College of Law from 1891 to 1903 and a professor of medical jurisprudence from 1895 to 1903. He served as president of the Iowa State Bar Association in 1897 and 1898.


In 1902, while continuing to serve as a state-court judge, Wade was elected as a Democrat to U.S. House seat for Iowa's 2nd congressional district. The incumbent congressman, John N. W. Rumple, did not seek re-election for health reasons, and Wade defeated Republican attorney W.H. Hoffman.[2] As Wade would write in autobiographical information submitted to Congress following his election, he had refused to make any campaign speeches during the race because he considered it an improper thing for a judge to do.[3] He was a member of the Fifty-eighth Congress, serving from March 4, 1903 to March 3, 1905.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1904 to the Fifty-ninth Congress. He was swept out of office as part of a Republican landslide, losing to Republican Albert F. Dawson in the general election.

He resumed the practice of his profession in Iowa City from 1905 to 1915. He served as delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1904 and 1912. Wade's congressional staffer, Irvin S. Pepper, was elected to Wade's former seat in 1910, following Dawson's retirement.

Federal bench

Wade was appointed judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in 1915. He was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1915, to a seat vacated by another former Iowa congressman, Smith McPherson. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 3, 1915, and received commission the same day. He presided over the Davenport sedition trials in 1917 and 1918, and sentenced Daniel Wallace to 20 years in prison for making a speech opposing the draft and critical of the United States' allies.[4]

Wade served on the bench until his death on April 16, 1931, in Los Angeles, California, while on a visit in that State. He was interred in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Iowa City.


  1. ^ "Judge Wade," Mason City Globe Gazette, 1902-11-13 at p. 8.
  2. ^ "Iowa," New York Times, 1902-11-02 at p. 14.
  3. ^ "Autobiographies of New Congressmen," New York Times, 1903-03-07 at p. 9.
  4. ^ George Mills & Richard W. Peterson, "No One is Above the Law: The Story of Southern Iowa's Federal Court," pp. 46-47 (1994) OCLC: 32291408 ASIN: B0006F5QA8.


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