Born: February 26, 1844, in New York, New York
Status: Died September 15, 1905, in New Bern, North Carolina; buried at Greenwood Cemetery, New Bern, North Carolina
Education: Attended law classes, Howard University, Washington, D.C., 1860s; admitted to the bar of North Carolina, 1873
Position: Schoolteacher, c. 1860; delegate and embossing clerk, North Carolina constitutional convention, 1868; representative, North Carolina State Legislature, 1868-1869; lawyer, Enfield, North Carolina, 1973-c. 1882; elected chairman, Halifax Board of Commissioners, 1973; U.S. representative from the Second Congressional District of North Carolina, 1883-1887; lawyer, New Bern, North Carolina, 1888-1905
James Edward O'Hara was born in New York, New York, on February 26, 1844. According to various sources, his father was an Irish seaman, and his mother a black woman from the West Indies. Little is known of his youth; the family moved to the West Indies in 1850, and O'Hara presumably grew up and obtained some schooling there. He could read and write and had enough learning so that sometime before the Civil War ended, when he came to the United States and settled in North Carolina, he became a schoolteacher and began reading law.
After the end of the Civil War, O'Hara became involved in North Carolina politics. In 1868, he was employed by the North Carolina State Constitutional Convention as an emboss