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Governor John Marshall Hamilton

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Office Dates:  Feb 16, 1883 - Jan 30, 1885


Born:  May 28, 1847

Passed:  Sep 22, 1905

Birth State:  Ohio

Party:  Republican

Family:  Married Helen Williams; Three Children

School(s):  Ohio Wesleyan University

Military Service:  Army

JOHN M. HAMILTON, Illinois' nineteenth governor, was born near Richwood in Union County, Ohio, on May 28, 1847. In 1854, his family moved to Illinois, and settled near Wenona, where Hamilton attended the common schools. During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army, as a private in Company I of the 141st Illinois Infantry. After his military service, he attended and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1868, then taught school, and later became a professor of Latin at Illinois Wesleyan University. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1870, and established a legal career in Bloomington, Illinois. Hamilton entered politics in 1876, serving as a member of the Illinois State Senate, a position he held until 1880. He also served as Illinois' lieutenant governor from 1881 to 1883. On February 16, 1883, Governor Shelby M. Cullom resigned from office, and Hamilton, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship.  During his tenure, the Harper high-license liquor law was adopted, riots erupted in St. Clair and Madison Counties, a compulsory education act was sanctioned, funding was secured for the completion and furnishing of the state house, and state regulations were imposed on foreign insurance companies. After leaving office on January 30, 1885, Hamilton returned to his law career in Chicago. Governor John M. Hamilton passed away on September 22, 1905.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Illinois History

The Political Graveyard