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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesIllinois

John Alexander McCLERNAND

(1812-1900)

McCLERNAND, John Alexander, a Representative from Illinois; born in Breckinridge County, Ky., on May 30, 1812; moved with his parents to Shawneetown, Ill., in 1813; attended the village schools; engaged in agricultural pursuits; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1832; served in the Black Hawk War; engaged as a trader on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in 1833 and 1834; established the Shawneetown Democrat in 1835 and in the same year commenced the practice of law; member of the State house of representatives in 1836, 1840, 1842, and 1843; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1843-March 3, 1851); chairman, Committee on Public Lands (Twenty-ninth Congress), Committee on Foreign Affairs (Thirty-first Congress); declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1850; moved to Jacksonville, Ill., in 1851 and to Springfield in 1856; elected to the Thirty-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Thomas L. Harris; reelected to the Thirty-seventh Congress and served from November 8, 1859, until October 28, 1861, when he resigned to accept a commission as brigadier general of Volunteers for service in the Civil War; returned to Illinois to raise troops for the Union Army; was promoted to major general in 1862; elected circuit judge of the Sangamon District of Illinois in 1870 and served until 1873; resumed the practice of law; presided over the Democratic National Convention in 1876; appointed by President Cleveland as a member of the Utah Commission; died in Springfield, Ill., September 20, 1900; interment in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Bibliography

Kiper, Richard L. Major General John Alexander McClernand: Politician in Uniform. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1999; Meyers, Christopher C. “The Meanest Man in the West:” John A. McClernand and the Civil War Era.” Ph. D. Diss., The Florida State University, 1996.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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