Oglesby, Richard J. (Richard James), 1824-1899

Alternative names
Birth 1824-07-25
Death 1899-04-24

Biographical notes:

American soldier and legislator.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Washington, to G.H. Williams, 1873 Mar. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270611451

Richard J. Ogelsby was an officer in the Civil War and seriously wounded, eventually promoted to major general, elected to governor of Illinois in 1864, 1872 and 1884, and ten days after his 1885 term began, resigned after being chosen by the Illinois Republican party for the senate. He had been an orphan and a self taught lawyer when he went to California in 1849 and came back rich from the gold fields. He speculated in land and became interested in politics. In 1856 he toured Europe. He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and strongly anti-slavery. After retiring from politics he stayed at his home in Elkhart, Illinois with his wife, Emma Gillett Keays Ogelsby.

From the description of Papers, 1856-1924. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 51297870

Civil War general, Illinois governor (1865-1869, 1873, 1885-1889), and U. S. Senator (1873-1879).

From the description of Letter, February 5, 1870. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 706817104

From the description of Correspondence, 1865-1866. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 690959907

A self educated lawyer who made money specualting in land around Decatur, Illinois, he served in the Mexican War and the Civil War, was elected governor three times and served in the U.S. Senate. In 1864 he was nominated and elected governor of Illinois. He made Illinois the first state to ratify the 13th amendment outlawing slavery and enacted a voters registration bill. Also supported Urbana as the site for the Illinois Industrial University, the future University of Illinois. He supported prison reform, created the office of attorney general and appointed his friend Robert Ingersoll as the first. Was very opposed to Andrew Johnson's policies.

He was elected again in 1872 but thirteen days after his term began he was chosen to take the senate seat of Lyman Trumbull. He speculated in silver mines until he was coaxed into running for governor and being elected again in 1884. During this term he commuted the death sentence of two Haymarket Riot ancarchists, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab. He was active in the GAR and president of the Abraham Lincoln Monument Association. He and his second wife, Emma Gillett Oglesby, retired in Elkhart, Ill.

From the description of Papers, 1846-1924. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 51297872


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  • Overland journeys to the Pacific
  • Real property
  • Haymarket Square Riot, Chicago, Ill., 1886
  • Corinth, Battle of, Corinth, Miss., 1862
  • Governor
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848
  • Johnson, Andrew--1808-1875


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  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Dublin (Ireland) (as recorded)
  • Edinburgh (Scotland) (as recorded)
  • Glasgow (Scotland) (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Illinois--Decatur (as recorded)
  • Fort Donelson (Tenn.) (as recorded)
  • London (England) (as recorded)
  • Liverpool (England) (as recorded)
  • Belfast (Northern Ireland) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)