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John Smith Chipman (August 10, 1800 – July 27, 1869) was a lawyer and politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Chipman was born in Shoreham in Addison County, Vermont, where he attended the rural schools and graduated from Middlebury College in 1823. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Addison County and in Essex County, New York on the opposite side of Lake Champlain.

In 1838, he moved to Centreville in St. Joseph County, Michigan, where he held several local offices including serving as a member of the Michigan State House of Representatives in 1842. Chipman was elected as a Democrat from Michigan's 2nd District to the Twenty-ninth Congress, serving from March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1847. After the end of his term, he moved to Niles in Berrien County, Michigan, and later, in 1850, he moved to San Francisco, California, where he resumed the practice of law. He moved to San Jose, California, in 1869 and lived in retirement there until his death. He is interred in Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose.

He was regarded as a brilliant lawyer and a natural orator. Bingham writes that "listening to one of his speeches was like reading one of Cooper's novels." He was over six feet tall with black hair and a dark complexion, giving rise to his nickname, Black Chip.


  • United States Congress. "John Smith Chipman (id: C000368)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • A twentieth century history of Berrien County, Michigan. Coolidge, Orville William. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906. p. 37
  • Early history of Michigan, with biographies of state officers, members of Congress, judges and legislators. Bingham, S. D. (Stephen D.). Lansing: Thorp & Godfrey, state printers, 1888. pp 170–171
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lucius Lyon
United States Representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Michigan
Succeeded by
Edward Bradley