James J. Couzens (August 26, 1872–October 22, 1936) was a U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan, the Mayor of Detroit, an industrialist, and philanthropist.
Couzens was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada and attended the public schools of Chatham. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1890 and worked as a railroad car checker 1890-1897. He was a clerk in the coal business 1897-1903. In 1903, he was one of the initial business associates of Henry Ford involved in founding the Ford Motor Company. Couzens became vice president and general manager of the company. In 1919, he sold his interest in the company to the Ford family for $35,000,000.
He was president of the Bank of Detroit and director of the Detroit Trust Company. He was commissioner of street railways 1913-1915 and commissioner of the metropolitan police department 1916-1918. He was mayor of Detroit 1919-1922. As mayor, Couzens installed municipal street railways.
Couzens was appointed November 29, 1922, as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Truman H. Newberry. This appointment was confirmed by his election on November 4, 1924, at which time he was also elected to a full term commencing March 4, 1925. He was reelected in 1930, serving in total from November 29, 1922, until his death on October 22, 1936. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1936, th loss generally attributed to Couzens support for Roosevelt's New Deal programs. He was chairman of the U.S. Senates Committee on Civil Service in the Sixty-ninth Congress, the U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor in the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Congresses, the U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce in the Seventy-first and Seventy-second Congresses. Couzens actions in Congress generally followed those of the Progressive Republicans, advocating acts such as high graduated income tax and public ownership of utilities.
Couzens died in Detroit and is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery there.
Couzens established the Children's Fund of Michigan with a $10,000,000 grant. He also gave $1,000,000 for relief in Detroit and began a fund to make loans to the physically handicapped.
In response to the Bath School Disaster, in which Andrew Kehoe, an embittered school board member, planted dynamite in the basement of a school in Bath Township, Michigan, Couzens gave generously to the fund for rebuilding, and the new school was dedicated as the "James Couzens Agricultural School".
Couzens' son, Frank Couzens (b. 1902) was also Mayor of Detroit, 1934-38.
- American National Biography
- Dictionary of American Biography
- Barnard, Harry. Independent Man: The Life of James Couzens. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958. Republished by Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8143-3085-1
- U.S. Congress. Memorial Services Held in the House of Representatives of the United States, Together with Remarks Presented in Eulogy of James Couzens, Late a Senator from Michigan. 75th Cong., 1st sess., 1937. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1938.
This article incorporates facts obtained from the public domain Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.