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John Reynolds

Gov. John Reynolds

  • December 8, 1830 - November 17, 1834
  • Democrat
  • February 26, 1788
  • May 8, 1865
  • Pennsylvania
  • Reverend Isaac Anderson Academy
  • Married twice--Catharine Dubuque, Sarah Wilson
  • Resigned
  • Representative
  • Army


JOHN REYNOLDS, who served in all branches of Illinois government, was born in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on February 26, 1788. In 1789, his family moved to Tennessee, finally settling in Kaskaskia, Illinois in 1800. Reynolds was educated in the common schools of Illinois, and then at 20 he attended the Reverend Isaac Anderson Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and established a successful legal career in Cahokia, Illinois. During the War of 1812, Reynolds served two years as an Indian scout, earning the nickname “Old Ranger.” In 1818, he was selected to serve as a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, a position he held for six years. Reynolds entered politics in 1823, as an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate. However, four years later, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, an office he held until 1829. Reynolds became the fourth governor of Illinois on August 2, 1830, and he was sworn into office on December 6, 1830. During his tenure, construction on the state’s first penitentiary located in Alton was completed; the “Wiggins Loan” of $100,000 was sanctioned; the old State Bank notes were converted; and numerous contracts were approved for the merger of railroad companies. While governor, Reynolds also served as commander of the Illinois militia, and during the Black Hawk War he was commissioned to negotiate treaties with the Indians. On November 17, 1834, Reynolds resigned from the governor’s office to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1834 to 1837, and again from 1839 to 1843. He was reelected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1846 and 1852, serving as speaker in the 1852 session. He also was a delegate to the 1860 Democratic National Convention. Governor John Reynolds, who authored several books, including his autobiography My Own Times, died on May 8, 1865. He was buried at the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville, Illinois.


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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