EMLIN McCLAIN |
Source: “Progressive Men of Iowa”. Page 229
Emlin McClain, chancellor of the law department of the State University of Iowa,
a distinguished legal authority, author of many standard works, and best known
in Iowa as the annotator of the code, both old and new, is now a resident of
Iowa City, where he has been connected with the law department of the State
university since 1881. He was born in Salem, Ohio, November 25, 1851.
Both his parents were born in Pennsylvania, of Quaker antecedents. His father, William McClain, was of Scotch-Irish descent and was principal and proprietor of Salem
institute in Ohio. He removed to Tipton, Cedar county, Iowa, in 1855, where he
had charge of the public schools of the town. For a time he operated a farm in
that county and afterward owned and conducted the Iowa City Commercial college,
and in connection with it founded the Iowa City academy. A few months before his
death, in 1877, he opened a commercial college in Des Moines.
lived on the farm until he was about 13 years old and his early education was
obtained almost entirely at home, concluding with one year at an academy in
Wilton. In 1866, at the early age of 15, he entered the State university and
graduated in the philosophical course in 1871, taking the classical degree in
1872 and graduating from the law department in 1873. During his college course
he was a member of the Zetagathian literary society and one of its presidents.
He was also a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and was one of the
commencement speakers of his collegiate and law classes.
Upon the completion of
his law course he [p.299] went at once as a clerk in the law office of Gatch,
Wright & Runnells, in Des Moines. He was private secretary of United States
Senator Geo. G. Wright, and clerk of the senate committee on claims during the
two sessions of the Forty-fourth Congress, 1875-77. For the next four years,
until 1881, he practiced law in Des Moines and during that time prepared
McClain's Annotated Statutes of Iowa, which was published in 1880 and
immediately became the standard code, regarded as an absolute necessity by every
lawyer in Iowa. In 1881 he was appointed a professor in the law department of
the State university, and removed to Iowa City; he was made vice chancellor in
1887 and chancellor in 1890.