Curry was born in Lincoln County, Georgia in 1825. Around age 12, in 1837, his family moved to Kelley Springs in Talladega County. He graduated from Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) in 1843 where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society. While studying at Harvard Law School, Curry was inspired by the lectures of Horace Mann and became an advocate of free universal education.
He served in the Alabama State Legislature in 1847, 1853, and 1855; in the United States House of Representatives in 1857–1861; and in the Confederate Congress. As a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, he was a staff aide to General Joseph E. Johnston and General Joseph Wheeler.
After the war he studied for the Baptist ministry, but the focus of his work was free education in the South. He traveled and lectured in support of state normal schools, adequate rural schools, and a system of graded public schools. In November 1865, he presided over the Alabama Baptist Convention and became president of Howard College, then located in Marion. He was ordained in January 1866 and gave more than 100 sermons during the year despite not accepting a number of pastorates offered to him. Worried about raising funds for Howard College and disheartened by the pro-Unionist control of Alabama government, he left the state to accept a professorship at Richmond College in Virginia (now the University of Richmond) in 1868.
From 1881 until his death he was agent for the Peabody Education Fund and Slater Fund to aide schools in the South and was instrumental in the founding of the Southern Education Board. Birmingham's Curry Elementary School and The Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia were named for him.
Curry served as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Spain from 1885 to 1888, and as ambassador extraordinary to Spain on the coming of age of King Alfonso XIII in 1902. His publications include works on education, American government, and Spanish history. He was awarded the Royal Order of Charles III and several honorary degrees. Curry died in February 1903, and is buried in Richmond, Virginia.
Until October 2009, Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry was honored by one of Alabama's two statues in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection. It was donated in 1908 and sculpted by Dante Sodini. In October 2009, the statue was replaced with one of Helen Keller, and Curry's statue was displayed in the lobby of Samford University's Beeson University Center until 2018. It was then returned the the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
- Constitutional Government in Spain (1889)
- William Ewart Gladstone (1891)
- The Southern States of the American Union (1894)
- Difficulties, Complications, and Limitations Connected with the Education of the Negro (1895)
- Civil History of the Government of the Confederate States, with some Personal Reminiscences (1901)
|Representative, 7th Congressional District of Alabama
unallocated during Reconstruction
|President of Howard College
John W. Foster
|United States Ambassador to Spain
- NSHC biography
- The South in the Olden Time. Harrisburg, Pa.: Harrisburg Publishing Company, 1901.
- History of the University of Georgia by Thomas Walter Reed, Thomas Walter Reed, Imprint: Athens, Georgia : University of Georgia, ca. 1949
- Alderman, Edwin Anderson, and Armistead Churchill Gordon (1911) J. L. M. Curry, A Biography. 2006 reprint Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing
- Rice, Jessie Pearl (1949) J. L. M. Curry: Southerner, Statesman, Educator. New York: King's Crown Press
- Chodes, John (2005) Destroying the Republic: Jabez Curry and the Re-education of the Old South. New York: Algora
- Bailey, Hugh C. (September 23, 2009) "Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry". Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed October 12, 2009
- Biography by William A. Link in John T. Kneebone et al., eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: The Library of Virginia, 1998- ), 3:612-614. ISBN 0884902064
- "Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry" (October 12, 2009) Wikipedia - acessed October 12, 2009