James W. Patterson (July 2, 1823 - May 4, 1893) was a United States Representative and Senator from New Hampshire. Born in Henniker, he pursued classical studies, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1848, and was principal of the Woodstock Academy in (Connecticut) for two years. He attended the Theological Seminary at New Haven, Connecticut, studied law, and was a professor of mathematics, astronomy, and meteorology at Dartmouth College from 1854 to 1865.
Patterson was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1862, and was elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth and Thirty-ninth Congresses (March 4, 1863-March 3, 1867). He was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1867, to March 3, 1873; while in the Senate he was chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-first Congress) and a member of the Committee on the District of Columbia (Forty-first and Forty-second Congresses). He was a regent of the Smithsonian Institution and in 1877-1878 was again a member of the State house of representatives. He was State superintendent of public instruction from 1881 to 1893, and president of American Institute of Instruction. He died in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1893; interment was in Dartmouth Cemetery.