Jim Lighthizer | American Battlefield Trust
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Civil War

Jim Lighthizer

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President, Civil War Trust

O. James Lighthizer’s years of public service began in 1979 when he was elected to the Maryland State Legislature.  In 1982, he was elected to the first of two terms as Anne Arundel County Executive, where he successfully managed a full-service budget in excess of $800 million.  During his tenure as county executive, he established a county farmland protection program preserving over 2,500 acres.  He also embarked on an aggressive waterfront park acquisition effort resulting in the purchase of over 900 acres and 7 miles of waterfront in the county.  In 1986, he was reelected, with 80 percent of the vote. 

In 1991, Jim was appointed as Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation.  Jim created an unprecedented program that to date has saved more than 4,500 acres of Civil War battlefield land in Maryland and is the national model for the use of Transportation Enhancement funds for battlefield preservation.  During his term as Chairman of the Governor’s Greenways Committee in Maryland, Jim created Greenways throughout Maryland. 

In December 1999, Jim accepted the presidency of the Civil War Preservation Trust, a new organization created by the merger of two other national battlefield preservation groups, the Civil War Trust and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.  Jim had previously served as a member of the Civil War Trust’s Board of Trustees.

When Jim took the reins at the Civil War Preservation Trust in November 1999, the fledgling organization had 22,000 members and its predecessor organizations had saved 7,000 acres in the previous 13 years.  During Jim’s tenure as President of the Trust, the group has saved an additional 18,000 acres, and now boasts 55,000 members nationwide.  Jim was also the architect of the rescue of the Slaughter Pen Farm on the Fredericksburg Battlefield – the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history.

According to Linda Wheeler in a January 2003 Washington Post article:  “Jim Lighthizer knows about saving battlefields.  As president of the Civil War Preservation Trust, he is devoted to the cause and has learned that a passion for history is not enough.  ‘When it gets down to land, it's all about money,’ he said. "There is nothing else to it. Good intentions in land preservation are just that. They get you nowhere.’”

In an April 2005 National Geographic article, Adam Goodheart wrote:  “If the romantic and perhaps doomed cause of saving America's Civil War battlefields can be said to have its own Robert E. Lee — a strategist who time and again snatched victory from the jaws of defeat — he is a man named James Lighthizer.  The only catch is that in person Lighthizer seems better to resemble Ulysses S. Grant, a hard-driving, cigar-chomping politico straight off the pages of a gilded age broadsheet.  As president of the Civil War Preservation Trust, Lighthizer has become adept at fighting many foes on many fronts all at once.”


1968-1976 - Marketing Representative,  IBM Corporation

1976-1982 - Practice of Law, Annapolis, Maryland

1979-1982 - Maryland House of Delegates

1982-1990 - Anne Arundel (Maryland) County Executive
Jim was elected twice as Anne Arundel County Executive.

1991-1995 - Maryland Secretary of Transportation
In 1991, Jim was appointed as Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation by Governor William D. Schaefer.  He was responsible for the management of the State Highway Administration, the Mass Transit Administration, the Port of Baltimore, the Maryland Commuter Railway, the Maryland Vehicle Administration and the Maryland Transit Authority (toll facilities).

1996-1999 - Lobbyist and Partner in Law, Miles & Stockbridge

1999-Present - President, Civil War Trust
Jim brings a proactive spirit and deep commitment to Civil War battlefield preservation to his position as President of the Civil War Trust, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect significant Civil War battlefield land and to educate the public about the roles those lands played in shaping the course of the Nation’s history.  To date, the Civil War Trust has saved over 39,000 acres of Civil War battlefield land in 20 states.  It is the leading Civil War land preservation organization in the United States.


B.A., University of Dayton, 1968
Juris Doctorate, Georgetown University Law Center, 1975


Chairman of the Governor’s Greenways Commission, 1989 to 1995
During Jim’s term as Chairman of the Governor’s Greenways Committee in Maryland, Greenways were created throughout Maryland. 

Chairman of Governor’s Civil War Heritage Commission 1991-1998

Member of the Board of Directors - Preservation Maryland, 2003 - 2006

Member, Governor’s Commission on the Structure and Efficiency of State Government, 2003

Member, Board of Trustees, Maryland Historical Trust, 2004-Present


Jim resides in Crofton, Maryland, with his wife Gloria. He has five grown children.