Image of McClernand, John A.

McClernand, John A.

b. May 30, 1812, in Breckinridge County, Kentucky; d. September 20, 1900, in Springfield, Illinois. McClernand came to Shawneetown, Illinois, in 1830, and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty. When the Black Hawk War broke out, McClernand volunteered and served as a private. In 1835, McClernand resumed the practice of law and established Shawneetown ’s first Democratic newspaper. He was elected to the Illinois legislature in 1836, 1840, and 1842. McClernand was elected to Congress in 1842, and was reelected three times. He declined to run again in 1850 and moved to Jacksonville, Illinois. He served as a presidential elector for Van Buren in 1840 and for Pierce in 1852. He moved to Springfield in 1856 and practiced law in the state and federal courts. When Thomas L. Harris died in 1858, McClernand was elected to replace him in Congress. During the Civil War, McClernand served as a brigadier-general and rose to the rank of major-general of volunteers. After the war, he returned to the practice of law, and in 1870, he was elected judge of the Thirtieth Judicial District.
Edward F. Dunne, Illinois: The Heart of a Nation (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1933), 5:21; John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 14:873-74; Victor Hicken, "John A. McClernand and the House Speakership Struggle of 1859," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Summer 1960), 163-78; Illinois State Register (Springfield), 20 September 1900, 1; Allen Johnson, ed., Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s & Sons, 1964), 6:2:587-88; Usher F. Linder, Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois (Chicago: The Chicago Legal News Company, 1879), 71-72; John Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1899), 1:194-95. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.