Representative John Alexander MCCLERNAND

YEARS 1812-1900
OFFICE Representative
STATE Illinois
WHICH CONGRESS SERVED 28th (1843-1845), 29th (1845-1847), 30th (1847-1849), 31st (1849-1851), 36th (1859-1861), 37th (1861-1863)

Representative John Alexander MCCLERNAND Biography

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. View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

External Research Collections

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Springfield, IL Papers: 1835-1896. ca. 15 feet. Ninety percent of collection (including photographs) deals with his Civil War service. Papers for 1835-July 1861 (6 inches) concern Democratic Party politics and his congressional career and include letters on national and local politics, especially Douglas’ nomination for the Presidency and the fight over the House speakership in 1859; southern Illinois poll books for 1843-1844 elections; and a 36 page autobiographical statement (1847). Finding aid in repository. Papers: ca. 1870?. 1 volume in the Joseph Wallace papers. Biography (80 pages) of McClernand by Wallace. Finding aid in repository. Papers: 1863?. 1 volume in the Adolph Schwartz? papers. Biography (377 pages) of McClernand by Schwartz?, annotated by General Edward J. McClernand. Finding aid in repository. Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, DC Papers: 1860. 1 letter. New-York Historical Society New York, NY Papers: February 4, 1848; December 19, 1861; February 7, 1862; January 16, 1863. 4 letters. Personal and official correspondence. Finding aid in repository.


Hicken, Victor. “From Vandalia to Vicksburg: The Political and Military Career of John A. McClernand.” Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1955. ——. “John A. McClernand and the House Speakership Struggle of 1859.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 53 (Summer 1960): 163-78. Kiper, Richard L. Major General John Alexander McClernand: Politician in Uniform. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1999. McClernand, John Alexander. Address of John A. McClernand, of Illinois, to his constituents. [Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1848]. ——. Speech of Hon. J. A. McClernand, of Illinois, in review of the internal or domestic policy of the present administration of the government. Delivered in the House of Representatives, January 10, 1848. Washington: Printed at the office of Blair and Rives, 1848. 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.

John Alexander MCCLERNAND Committee Assignments

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