Carr was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on September 9, 1777. He attended Phillips Exeter and Academies, and then went to sea as clerk on the U.S.S. Crescent. He served two years as secretary to the United States Consul at Algiers. He then joined his parents (who had migrated to Bangor, Maine), engaging in mercantile pursuits and serving as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1806–1811) for the District of Maine.
Carr was elected as a Federalist to the Fourteenth United States Congress (1815–1817), the second person from Bangor to occupy that office (following his father).
Carr was drowned in the Ohio River on August 24, 1818. While traveling with his family on a steamboat, his 9-year-old daughter Mary fell overboard just below Louisville, Kentucky, and Carr entered the water in a failed attempt to save her. Neither of their bodies were ever recovered, though a memorial to Carr was erected at Bangor's Mount Hope Cemetery.
Carr was married to Betsey Stelle Jarvis, who migrated to Illinois along with two brothers following the tragedy on the river. The Carrs remained a prominent mercantile and political family in Bangor despite James' death (see Francis Carr).
- Natalie Park Shutz, The Park Story: Some Descendants of Richard Park of Newton, Mass. (2001), pp. 161-164, 371.
- United States Congress. "James Carr (id: C000176)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 17th congressional district
March 4, 1815 – March 3, 1817