John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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legislature, was also a member of the state convention which ratified the federal
constitution, and was afterward a member of congress. He was a natural orator,
but his diffidence prevented him from exercising his talents to a great extent in
that direction. He moved from Maryland to Kentucky in the year 1800, whither
he had previously sent his son Ninian to open up a farm, etc. He left the "shores
of time" November 13, 1826, at his residence in Elkton, Todd county, Ken-


tucky, in the seventy-fourth year of his age ; and his venerable consort, Mrs.
Martha Edwards, after a married life of more than fifty years, preceded him to the
grave only about three months.

Ninian Edwards, the son just referred to, was the eldest child of the family.
As he grew up his domestic training was well fitted to give his mind strength,
firmness and honorable principles, as well as a good foundation for the elevated
character which he ever afterward exhibited. His education in early youth was
in company with, and partly under the tuition of, Hon. William Wirt, a lad
nearly two and a half years his senior and whom his father patronized. Young
Edwards further prosecuted his studies under the tuition of Rev. Mr. Hunt, of
Montgomery Court House, Maryland, whence he was sent to Dickinson College
at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After ending his school days he commenced, in com-
pany with several others, the study of law. It was required of law classes in
those days to devote half their time to the study of history; but Ninian having
already become a good historian under his father's instructions, devoted this half
time to the study of medicine instead of history ; and so thorough did he be-
come in that branch of human knowledge 'that he was afterward almost as well
and favorably known as a practitioner of medicine as of law. Before completing
the studies then considered prerequisite to admission at the bar, he was sent by
his father, in 1794, to Nelson county, Kentucky, to open a farm for him and to
purchase homes and locate lands for his brothers and sisters, and there in the
wilderness, when only nineteen years of age, he took charge of the laborers and
opened and improved a tract of land for a splendid farm, upon which his father
afterward removed with his family from the state of Maryland, built distilleries
and tan-yards and gave all the necessary instruction in relation to their erection.

But here in the wild west he found himself almost alone in the practice of
the austere virtues. All the youth of the neighborhood were frivolous and intem-
perate and given to loose habits generally, and the uniform current drew him
almost irresistibly into the meshes of a similar mode of life. His father had
furnished him with ample means for an immediate support and he had all the
prospective advantages of a new and growing country. His means he squan-
dered, his health he impaired and his habits began to run more and more into
those of dissipation. We mention this fact here merely to emphasize another
and very rare epoch in human life, namely, a total self-redemption from all these
debilitating habits. He left that neighborhood for a new one, namely, Russell-
ville, in Logan county, where he revolutionized himself, became sober and in-
dustrious and made rapid strides in learning and social and political prominence.
But, stranger than all yet to say, before he had reformed and before he was of
legal age, such was his talent that he was elected to represent Nelson county in
the state legislature, where he so ably and acceptably discharged the duties of a
legislator that the very next year he was re-elected, by an almost unanimous vote.
Precocity is often witnessed in many other phases of human character, but in
respect to statesmanship and the discharge of heavy responsibilities we have but
few if any examples of precocity in the world, and a conspicuous example of this
was the career of Mr. Edwards.


In 1798 he was licensed to practice in the courts of Kentucky, and the next
year in those also of Tennessee, his practice in that state being mostly in the
western portion. It was at this time that he left Nelson county and located in
Russellville, Logan county, where he rose so rapidly in his profession that he was
not only considered one of the most eminent lawyers of Kentucky, but in the
course of only four years, commencing without a dollar, he also amassed a large
fortune. At a very early period he evinced extraordinary power, with habits of
regular and unremitting industry. He displayed talents and legal knowledge of
a high order, and these he exercised in competition with those noted attorneys,
Clay, Grundy, Rowan, Bibb, Boyle, Daviess and others; and before he was
twenty-five years of age he attracted the attention of those men, as well as of
Nathaniel Pope, then United States senator from Kentucky, and many other
prominent statesmen. Commencing within four years after he had begun the
practice of law, he filled successively the offices of judge of the general court, cir-
cuit judge, fourth judge of the court of appeals and chief justice of the state,
all b'efore he was thirty-two years of age !

In 1802 he received from Governor Garrard a commission as major to com-
mand a battalion of Kentucky militia, and the next year he was appointed judge
of the circuit in which he resided. The same year he made a visit to his native
place in Maryland, where he found Miss Elvira Lane, whom he chose for his wife
and who was an intelligent lady and of a highly respected family. It was in
1806 that Mr. Edwards was appointed fourth judge of the court of appeals, and
two years later he was made chief justice of the state.

In regard to his fidelity and honorable course in the discharge of his public
duties we may here quote from Rev. J. M. Peck, who was personally well ac-
quainted with this rising man of affairs. Says this writer: "I have conversed
with many persons who knew him in all these judicial stations and have not found
one to complain of any remissness in duty. All concur in giving him an uncom-
mon character for the correctness of his judicial decisions, consistency of his
course and unwearied industry. Evidently he possesses in a high degree the con-
fidence of the people ; and hundreds of people who knew him in this state as a
judge have visited him even after his removal to Illinois for legal advice, which
was gratuitously bestowed."

In 1804, while he was judge, he was chosen one of the electors of president
and vice-president of the United States, and as such he cast his vote for Jefferson
and Clinton, the successful candidates. This item gives us in a general way
some idea of his political principles. In 1806 he was a candidate for congress
against the celebrated Matthew Lyon, but, having just been promoted to the
court of appeals, he declined before election. Of his general character as a
lawyer and judge, the eminent George M. Bibb, also a judge, said that he knew
of no one who could write a more able opinion and in so short a time. The
great secret of his success was in his powerful intellect, energy and untiring in-

In 1809 he was appointed by President Madison the first governor of Illi-
nois territory, which position he held until its admission into the Union in 1818.


When he entered upon the discharge of his duties in this capacity there were
but two counties in the territory, St. Clair and Randolph ; and these of course
ran northward indefinitely and were supposed to cover all the territory. No
more counties were established until September 14, 1812, when Governor Ed-
wards created by proclamation the counties of Madison, named in honor of James
Madison, soon to be president of the United States ; Gallatin, named for Albert
Gallatin, secretary of the United States treasury under both Jefferson and Madi-
son and a contemporary friend and correspondent of Governor Edwards ; John-
son, named in regard to the celebrated Richard M. Johnson, an old Kentucky
friend of Governor Edwards and afterward vice-president of the United States ;
subsequently he proclaimed Edwards, named after himself and organized Novem-
ber 28, 1814; White, organized December 9, 1815; Crawford, named for Will-
iam H. Crawford, secretary of the treasury of the United States .under President
Monroe and in 1836 a candidate for president of the United States; Monroe,
named after President Monroe ; Jackson, named after General Jackson ; Pope,
named in honor of Nathaniel Pope, the delegate in congress to secure the ad-
mission of Illinois territory as a state, the last three organized in 1816; Bond
county, named for Governor Bond and organized in 1817; Franklin, Union and
Washington counties, all organized in 1818, the year of the admission of Illinois
as a state and the end of Governor Edwards' term as chief executive. These
nineteen counties were all that existed during the territorial existence of Illinois.

In 1818, the territory becoming a state, Governor Edwards was elected one
of the first two United States senators, his colleague, elected at the same time,
being Jesse B. Thomas. Drawing by lot the short term, which expired on the
3d day of March, 1819, he was elected for the full term of six years. In that high
position he displayed great ability and exceptional qualities as an intelligent and
practical legislator. He retired from the senate in 1824, on his appointment as
minister to Mexico, a position, however, which he resigned before proceeding to
his post.

It was in 1826 that he was elected governor of the state of Illinois after a
remarkable canvass, in which he was pitted against immense odds and which he
conducted with unsurpassed ability. Able, independent, outspoken, he disdained
all acts of the ordinary politician, never descending to the low level of the dema-
gogue or appealing to the passions and prejudices of the people. At this juncture
of Mr. Edwards' life Rev. Mr. Peck used the following language concerning his
character as a public man : "From the time of his first election to the legislature
of Kentucky before he had quite attained his majority up to this period (1826),
he had not been out of public office, and in every station he had acquitted him-
self with honor and to the satisfaction of the people ; and it was not to be ex-
pected that he would be permitted to remain long in retirement. The people of
Illinois, who in various ways had expressed their acknowledgments of the value
of his public services, still had claims on him. He was elected governor in 1826;
and whatever may have been the feelings of political opponents upon his entrance
into this office, we believe few persons could be found who did not approve the
general course of his administration. A candid and dispassionate review of his


correspondence as governor of the territory, his speeches in congress and his
messages to the legislature, would convince even his opponents of his entire de-
votedness to the interests of the state. History and posterity will pronounce him
a true patriot and point out many official acts in which private interest was sacri-
ficed on the altar of public welfare. Entering upon the duties of his office he
served the state with conspicuous ability and usefulness until the end of his term,
in December, 1830. Upon the expiration of his constitutional term as governor,
and rendered ineligible to re-election by a constitutional provision, it was his
intention not to appear before the people again in a public capacity. Enjoying
some share of his confidence and friendship, I feel authorized in this declaration ;
but, persuaded by many friends in all parts of the district, he consented once
more to permit his name to be used, this time as a candidate for congress, at the
election of 1832; and this was the first and only election he ever lost before the

While he was hesitating to permit his name to go before the people, it was
discovered that other candidates belonging to the same party, so far as political
parties then existed, were already in the field, had been canvassing the district
and obtained many pledges of support. Under such circumstances and making
but little personal exertion for himself, he was defeated, the highest candidate
against him having only a small plurality.

"Much of the later period of his life," continues Mr. Peck, "was devoted to
the adjustment of his private affairs and to acts of humanity and benevolence;
and he possessed such method and system that, notwithstanding his estate was
large and his business was complicated, his affairs were left in such order as to
admit of easy adjustment. His neighbors and fellow citizens give ample testi-
mony to his humane, liberal and benevolent character. Possessing considerable
medical knowledge, with a sound discriminating judgment, he frequently admin-
istered and prescribed for the sick, visited the couch of the dying and gave con-
solation to the afflicted. To the poor and distressed he was liberal in his per-
sonal services and benefactions. The poorest man in the state was as fully wel-
come to the hospitalities of his house and table as the most opulent and dis-
tinguished. His liberality was without ostentation. It is known to the speaker
that in many instances he gave liberal sums of which the public knew nothing.

"He never made a public profession of religion, yet he was a believer in its
doctrines, and there were times in the latter period of his life, known to the
speaker, when he became unusually interested in its weighty truths.

"When that dreadful disease, the cholera, to which he fell a victim, first ap-
peared amongst us, Governor Edwards was indefatigable in obtaining the most
valuable and accurate information of the nature of the disease and the most suc-
cessful treatment, and in diffusing it among the people. When it approached the
village where he resided, his anxiety for the preservation of others was great.
Though of feeble health and impaired constitution, and forewarned by his friends
that an attack of the cholera in his system would prove fatal, yet night and day
he was with the sick and dying until he fell a victim to his humane and charitable


exertions for the relief of others. He was attacked by that frightful disease, and
he expired on the 2Oth of July, 1833."

For a considerable portion of his time after his arrival in Illinois he resided
on his farm near Kaskaskia, to which lie had brought with him from Kentucky
an improved stock of horses, cattle and sheep, from which the agricultural inter-
ests of the territory were much benefited. He had also a choice collection of
fruit-trees, grape-vines and shrubbery. He established saw and grist mills and
engaged extensively in mercantile business, having no less than eight or ten
stores in as many places in Illinois and Missouri ; and, notwithstanding the ardu-
ous duties of his office, he almost always purchased his goods himself. He had
stores at Kaskaskia, Belleville, Carlisle, Alton and Springfield, in this state, and
in St. Louis, Franklin and Chariton, Missouri. He resided in the vicinity of
Kaskaskia from 1809 to 1818, then in Edwardsville until 1824, and after that in
Belleville, St. Clair county, until his death.

Concerning his children we may remark briefly that his son, Albert Gallatin,
named in honor of his old friend, the treasurer of the United States, was a general
in the civil war, and was appointed sub-treasurer of the United States in St. Louis
by President Lincoln ; and this was the last appointment of a public officer ever
made by the martyr president. Ninian Wirt Edwards, another son, was state
superintendent of public instruction before the war ; and a daughter was mar-
ried to D. P. Cook, the father of General Cook.

John A. Logan, was born in Jackson county, Illinois, February 9, 1826, and
died in Washington, D. C., December 26, 1886. His father, Dr. John Logan,
came from Ireland when a young man and settled in Maryland, but removed to
Kentucky, thence to Missouri, and finally to Illinois. He served several terms in
the legislature, having been chosen as a Democrat, and held several county
offices. The son was educated at common schools and under a private tutor.
This instruction was supplemented, in 1840, by attendance at Shilo College.
When war with Mexico was declared, he volunteered as a private, but was soon
chosen a lieutenant in the First Illinois Infantry. He did good service as a sol-
dier, and for some time was acting quartermaster of his regiment. After his
return from Mexico he began the study of law with his uncle, Alexander M.
Jenkins, and in 1849 was elected clerk of Jackson county, but resigned to con-
tinue the study of law. In 1851 he was graduated at Louisville University, ad-
mitted to the bar, and became his uncle's partner. He soon grew popular, and
his forcible style of oratory, pleasing address, and fine voice, secured his election
to the legislature in 1852, and again in 1856. At the end of his first term he re-
sumed practice with such success that he was soon chosen prosecuting attorney
for the third judicial district. In 1852 he removed to Benton, Franklin county,
Illinois. He was a presidential elector in 1856 on the Buchanan and Breckin-
ridge ticket.

In 1858 he was elected to congress from Illinois, as a Douglas Democrat,
and was re-elected in 1860. In the presidential campaign of that year he earn-
estly advocated the election of Stephen A. Douglas; but, on the first intima-
tion of coming trouble from the south, he declared that, in the event of the elec-


tion of Abraham Lincoln, he would "shoulder his musket to have him in-
augurated." In July, 1861, during the extra session of congress that was called
by President Lincoln, he left his seat, overtook the troops that were marching
out of Washington to meet the enemy, and fought in- the ranks of Colonel Rich-
ardson's regiment in the battle of Bull Run, being among the last to leave the
field. Returning home in the latter part of August, he resigned his seat in
congress, organized the Thirty-first Illinois Infantry, and was appointed its
colonel, September 13. At Belmont, in November, he led a successful bayonet
charge, and a horse was shot under him. He led his regiment in the attack on
Fort Henry, and at Fort Donelson, while gallantly leading the assault, received
a wound that incapacitated him from active service for some time. After he had
reported for duty to General Grant at Pittsburg Landing, he was made a briga-
dier general of volunteers, March 5, 1862. He took an important part in the
movement against Corinth, and subsequently was given the command at Jack-
son, Tennessee, with instructions to guard the railroad communications. In the
summer of 1862 his constituents urged him to become a candidate for re-election
to congress, but he declined, saying in his letter : "I have entered the field to die,
if need be, for this government, and never expect to return to peaceful pursuits
until the object of this war of preservation has become a fact established." Dur-
ing Grant's northern Mississippi campaign General Logan commanded the
Third Division of the Seventeenth Army Corps under General McPherson, and
was promoted major general of the volunteers, to date from November 26, 1862.
He participated in the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, and Cham-
pion Hills. In the siege of Vicksburg he commanded McPherson's centre, and
on June 25th, made the assault after the explosion of the mine. His column was
the first to enter the captured city, and he was appointed its military governor.
He succeeded General Sherman in the command of the Fifteenth Army Corps in
November, 1863. In May, 1864, he joined Sherman's army, which was pre-
paring for its march into Georgia, led the advance of the Army of the Tennessee
in the fight at Resaca, repulsed Hardee's veterans at Dallas, and drove the enemy
from his line of works at Kenesaw Mountain. After the fall of Atlanta, Septem-
ber i, 1864, he went home and took an active part in the presidential campaign
of that year. He rejoined his troops, who had accompanied General Sherman
in his famous "march to the sea," at Savannah, and remained in active service
with Sherman's army till the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston, April 26,
1865. On May 23d, he was appointed to the command of the Army of the Ten-
nessee ; but, as soon as active service in the field was over, he resigned his

He was appointed minister to Mexico by President Johnson, but declined.
In 1866 he was elected a representative from Illinois to the fortieth congress, as
a Republican, and served as one of the managers in the impeachment trial of
President Johnson. He was re-elected to the forty-first congress, and did good
service, as chairman of the committee on military affairs, in securing the passage
of an act for the reduction of the army. He was re-elected to the forty-second
congress, but before that body convened he was chosen by the Illinois legislature


United States senator for the term beginning March 4, 1871. After the ex-
piration of his term of service, March 3, 1877, he resumed the practice of law in
Chicago. He was again returned to the United States senate, and took his seat
on the convening of that body in extra session, March 18, 1879. Both in the
house and senate he maintained his reputation for brilliancy and success.

At the Republican national convention in Chicago in June, 1884, on the first
ballot for a candidate for president, General Logan received 63^ votes. After
the subsequent nomination of Mr. Elaine, General Logan was nominated for
vice-president. When General Logan's sudden death was announced to him,
James G. Elaine thus briefly summarized his character : "General Logan was
a man of immense force in a legislative body. His will was unbending, his
courage, both moral and physical, was of the highest order. I never knew a
more fearless man. He did not quail before public opinion when he had once
made up his mind any more than he did before the guns of the enemy when he
headed a charge of his enthusiastic troops. In debate he was aggressive and
effective. I have had occasion to say before, and I now repeat, that,

while there have been more illustrious military leaders in the United States and
more illustrious leaders in the legislative halls, there has, I think, been no man in
this country who has combined the two careers in so eminent a degree as General
Logan." His personal appearance was striking. He was of medium height,
with a robust physical development, a broad and deep chest, massive body, and
small hands and feet. He had fine and regular features, a swarthy complexion,
long jet-black hair, a heavy mustache and dark eyes. General Logan published
"The Great Conspiracy," a large volume relating to the Civil war (New York,
1886), and "The Volunteer Soldier of America" (Chicago, 1887).

His wife, Mary Simmerson Cunningham, a daughter of John M. Cunning-
ham, born in Petersburg, Boone county, Missouri, August 15, 1838, lived amid
the hardships of frontier life, and was subsequently sent to the convent of St.
Vincent in Kentucky. On leaving that institution she assisted in preparing the
papers that were needed by her father, who on his return from the Black Hawk
and Mexican wars, had been elected sheriff and county clerk of Williamson
county, and appointed register of the land office at Shawneetown, Gallatin coun-
ty, Illinois, by President Pierce. Blank forms for any legal documents were
then rare, and Miss Cunningham, through her industry in her father's case, sup-
plied the deficiency. While thus engaged she met General Logan, who was at
the time prosecuting attorney. She was married November 27, 1855, and was
identified with her husband's career, becoming his best adviser in the gravest
crises of political and civil life.

General Richard James Oglesby, so distinguished in Illinois and the whole
country as a soldier and statesman, was born in Oldham county, Kentucky, on
the 25th of July, 1824. He is of Scottish extraction, and bears in many traits
of his character the impress of the sterling virtues of that race. His parents,
Jacob Oglesby and Isabella Watson, were of the sturdy stock of pioneers who,
though not rich, had the comforts of life, and were not the victims of that want
often incident to a new country. In 1833, by a visitation of the cholera, father

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 74 of 83)