James Slingluff Boyd
The “tallest man in the Senate at six feet, six inches, 230 pounds,” Montgomery County Republican James Slingluff Boyd was born in Norristown, July 11, 1883, the son of Howard and Mary Slingluff Boyd. His father was an attorney and the son of Virginian-Western Pennsylvania attorney Colonel James Boyd. The senator attended public schools, graduated from Norristown High School in 1900, and later matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania. A talented athlete, James captained the Penn track team and boasted ownership of the collegiate shot-put record.
Journalism was Boyd’s first love. For a number of years he served as a reporter, sports editor, and magazine columnist for several Western Pennsylvania publishing companies. A capable entrepreneur, the senator purchased several automobile sales agencies beginning in 1909. In addition he developed banking, building and loan, and real estate interests.
Boyd’s public service career began in 1917, representing Montgomery County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Ascending to the state Senate in 1918, James retired after a four-year term to work in California and British Columbia. Returning to Pennsylvania in 1926, he regained his old seat in the Senate, serving two additional terms through 1934. The upper house elected Boyd, president pro tempore in May 1931, James serving in that capacity through the 1933 regular session. He chaired Legislative Apportionment, 1919-1922, 1929-1932 and Canals and Inland Navigation, 1927-1928.
Boyd supported Senator Crow’s 1919 bill forming the Sproul Constitutional Commission and the same session’s spring primary bill, however opposed ratification of the Prohibition and Woman’s Suffrage amendments. He backed the Daix Insurance Department Act of 1921, the 1927 Motor License Fund Bill, and regularly supported highway improvement bonds. While he objected to Sam Salus’s proposed 1921 Equal Accommodations Act, he assisted in passage of the 1931 Equal Transportation Act amendment (equal passenger and freight rates for all rail and canal customers). Boyd championed Pinchot’s experimental State Employment Commission Act and the state “Voter Qualification” amendment. Any amicable relationship with the state’s chief executive, however, terminated abruptly at that point.
President pro tempore Boyd presided over the litigious Pinchot extra-session of 1931. Perhaps memorable only for its lack of productivity, Boyd’s baptism as pro tem witnessed the signal point for the tone of acrid debate that followed throughout the depression era. Unfortunately, for Senator Boyd, he would not be privy to those discussions. The senator passed away on March 13, 1935, while a seated member of the upper house. The Honorable James Boyd was married to the former Elzie Mortimer.
Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, ed. Henry Wilson Ruoff (Philadelphia: Biographical Publishing Company, 1895), 387,485; also: Philadelphia Inquirer and Public Ledger, March 13, 1935.