James Clark McReynolds was born in Elkton, Kentucky, on February 3, 1862, James McReynolds received a B.S. from Vanderbilt University in 1882, and graduated from the University of Virginia law department in 1884. He practiced law in Nashville, Tennessee, for many years, and was a professor at Vanderbilt Law School from 1900 to 1903. He was appointed Assistant Attorney General of the United States by Theodore Roosevelt and served from 1903 to 1907. Thereafter he moved to New York to engage in private practice.
He was retained by the Government in matters relating to enforcement of antitrust laws, particularly in proceedings against the Tobacco Trust and the combination of the anthracite coal railroads. McReynolds was appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Wilson on March 5, 1913, and remained until August 29, 1914, when named Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He served on the Supreme Court from 1914 to 1941. He died August 24, 1946 in Washington D.C.