Norman Jay Colman (May 16, 1827 – November 3, 1911) was a politician, newspaper publisher, and, for 18 days, the first United States Secretary of Agriculture.
Colman was born in Richfield Springs, New York, to son of Nancy (Sprague) and Hamilton Colman. He later moved to Kentucky to become an educator. He received a law degree from the University of Louisville Law School in 1849. Colman then moved to Missouri, ostensibly to farm. He was elected as an Alderman for St. Louis city's 5th ward as a Whig in 1854 and 1855 In 1855 he founded the Valley Farmer newspaper. As a result of his publication, Colman became a prominent figure in Missouri farming circles, which set the path for a political career in the Missouri House of Representatives. The publication of Colman's newspaper was interrupted by the American Civil War, but three years after the war he founded the Colman's Rural World. His political career continued, culminating with his election as the 17th Lieutenant Governor of Missouri from 1875 to 1877, as Democrat.
President Grover Cleveland appointed Coleman Commissioner of Agriculture in 1885. During his tenure he led a coalition of land-grant agricultural colleges in writing proposed legislation for the creation of agricultural experiment stations. Their lobbying efforts helped produce the Hatch Act in 1887.
He also lobbied for the creation of the United States Department of Agriculture and served as its inaugural Secretary at the end of Cleveland's term, February 15, 1889 to March 6, 1889. However, his position was never confirmed by the United States Senate. He returned to St. Louis to run his newspaper. He also spent the next 20 years in state public service and in horse-breeding.
Colman married Clara Porter in 1851 and had at least one child, daughter Laura Kate Colman, who was the second wife of John Fremont Hill, Governor of Maine. After Clara's death he married his second wife, the former Catherine Wright in 1866 and had at least one child, daughter Clara
He died on November 3, 1911 at age 84 from pneumonia, and is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
He was a member of the Freemasons.