William Henry Bissell
Biography




 
April 25, 1811  March 18, 1860) was the governor of the U.S. state of Illinois from 
1857 until his death. He was one of the first successful Republican Party
candidates, winning the election of 1856 just two years after the founding of
his party. Bissell was born in Hartwick, Otsego County, New York. He attended the public
schools and Yale University, and was graduated from the Philadelphia Medical
College in 1835. He moved to Monroe County, Illinois in 1837 where he taught
school and practiced medicine until 1840. From 1840 to 1842, Bissell was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. He
studied law, was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Belleville, St.
Clair County, Illinois. He was prosecuting attorney of St. Clair County in 1844.
He served in the Mexican War as colonel of the Second Regiment, Illinois
Volunteer Infantry. Bissell was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-first and Thirty-second Congresses
and as an Independent Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1849-March
3, 1855); he was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs (Thirty-second
and Thirty-third Congresses). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1854. Bissell was elected governor of Illinois in 1856 and served from January 12, 1857
until his death. He died in Springfield and was interred in Oak Ridge Cemetery.
He was the first Illinois Governor to die in office.
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