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Augustus C. French

Gov. Augustus C. French

  • December 9, 1846 - January 10, 1853
  • Democrat
  • August 2, 1808
  • September 4, 1864
  • Illinois
  • Dartmouth College
  • Married Lucy Southwick


AUGUSTUS C. FRENCH, Illinois’ ninth governor was born in Hill, New Hampshire, on August 2, 1808. His father died when he was a child; his mother when he was 19. His early education was limited. He later attended Dartmouth College, but did not graduate due to financial problems. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1823, and established a successful legal career in Illinois. French entered politics in 1837, as a member of the Illinois Legislature, a position he held for two years. In 1839, he served as receiver of public monies in the land office of Palestine, Illinois. He also served as a presidential elector in 1844. French won election as Illinois governor on August 3, 1846 and was sworn into office on December 9, 1846. During his tenure, free stock banks were initiated; a new state constitution was sanctioned; state expenses were cut; the state deficit was eliminated; construction was finalized on the Illinois Central Railroad; and the remaining Mormons left the state. French did not seek reelection, due to the Illinois Constitution of 1848, which disallowed a governor from succeeding himself. After leaving office on January 10, 1853, French taught law at the McKendree College in Lebanon, served as a bank commissioner, and was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1862. Governor Augustus C. French died on September 4, 1864 in Lebanon.


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.

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