James M. Tunnell

James Miller Tunnell (August 2, 1879 – November 14, 1957) was an American lawyer and politician from Georgetown, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, and served as U.S. Senator from Delaware.

James Tunnell
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
January 3, 1941 – January 3, 1947
Preceded byJohn G. Townsend Jr.
Succeeded byJohn J. Williams
Personal details
Born(1879-08-02)August 2, 1879
Clarksville, Delaware, U.S.
DiedNovember 14, 1957(1957-11-14) (aged 78)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Sarah Ethel Dukes
Residence(s)Georgetown, Delaware, U.S.
Alma materFranklin College

Early life and familyEdit

Tunnell was born in Clarksville, near Millville, Delaware. He attended the public schools and graduated in 1900 from Franklin College, now combined with Muskingum College at New Concord, Ohio.

Professional and political careerEdit

Tunnell taught in the public schools, eventually becoming principal of the schools at Frankford, Selbyville and Ocean View, Delaware. Meanwhile, he studied the law, was admitted to the bar in 1907 and began a practice in Georgetown, Delaware. He was president of the Georgetown Board of Education from 1919 until 1932. Tunnell was also a banker and owned and operated a number of farms in Sussex County, Delaware.

Tunnell first ran for a seat in the United States Senate in 1924, but was defeated by Republican T. Coleman du Pont, a former senator. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1940, this time defeating the incumbent Republican Senator John G. Townsend, Jr. During this term, he served with the Democratic majority in the 77th, 78th, and 79th Congresses. He was chairman of the Committee on Pensions in the 78th and 79th Congresses. Tunnell lost his bid for a second term in 1946 to Republican John J. Williams from Millsboro, Delaware. He served from January 3, 1941, to January 3, 1947, during the administrations of U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

Death and legacyEdit

James M. Tunnell died age 78 on November 14, 1957, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is buried in the Blackwater Church Cemetery, near Clarksville, Sussex County, Delaware. His son James M. Tunnell Jr. was the Democratic nominee for the Class 2 Senate seat in 1966, but lost to incumbent J. Caleb Boggs.


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. U.S. Senators are popularly elected and take office January 3 for a six-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 3, 1941 January 3, 1947
United States Congress service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1941–1943 77th U.S. Senate Democratic Franklin D. Roosevelt class 1
1943–1945 78th U.S. Senate Democratic Franklin D. Roosevelt class 1
1945–1947 79th U.S. Senate Democratic Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
class 1
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1924 U.S. Senator James M. Tunnell Democratic 36,085 41% T. Coleman du Pont Republican 52,731 59%
1940 U.S. Senator James M. Tunnell Democratic 68,294 51% John G. Townsend, Jr. Republican 63,799 47%
1946 U.S. Senator James M. Tunnell Democratic 50,910 45% John J. Williams Republican 62,603 55%


  • Carter, Richard B. (2001). Clearing New Ground, The Life of John G. Townsend, Jr. Wilmington, Delaware: The Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-20-6.
  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2000). Honest John Williams. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press.
  • Martin, Roger (1997). Elbert N. Carvel. Wilmington, Delaware: Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-08-7.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator (class 2) from Delaware
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator (class 1) from Delaware
1940, 1946
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Delaware
Served alongside: James H. Hughes, C. Douglass Buck
Succeeded by