Joseph N. Dolph was born in New York in 1835. In 1862, he joined the Oregon Escort, an outfit responsible for protecting settlers from Native Americans as they travelled to Oregon. Later, he settled in Portland where he established a law firm. Between 1865 and 1868, he served as Oregon’s U.S. District Attorney and, in 1866, was elected to the Oregon State Senate where he represented Multnomah County. In 1882, Dolph was elected to the United States Senate, a position he held until 1895.
When he failed to gain reelection to the U.S. Senate, Dolph opened a law office in Portland, Oregon with his son, Chester Dolph, and son-in-law Richard Nixon. Dolph, Nixon, and Dolph specialized in land disputes and represented several mining concerns and railroad companies, though the firm also engaged in miscellaneous other civil and criminal suits. Dolph died in March 1897 from complications resulting from a diabetes-induced amputation. Chester Dolph and Richard Nixon continued to operate the firm following Joseph Dolph’s death.
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