JOHN R. TANNER, Illinois’ twenty-third governor, was born near Booneville, Indiana, on April 4, 1844. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Indiana. During the Civil War, he joined the Union Army, serving as a private in the 98th Illinois Regiment from 1863 to 1865. Tanner entered politics in 1870, serving as sheriff of Clay County, an office he held two years. He served as clerk of the circuit court from 1872 to 1876, was a member of the Illinois State Senate from 1880 to 1883 and served as U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of Illinois in 1883. He also served as Illinois State Treasurer from 1886 to 1889, was a railroad commissioner in 1891, and served as assistant U.S. Treasurer for Chicago from 1892 to 1893. Tanner won the 1896 Republican gubernatorial nomination and was sworn into the governor’s office on January 11, 1897. During his tenure, the state deficit was focused on and eliminated, the Allen bill was enacted, the state militia restored order after violence erupted in a coal strike, and the state supplied ten equipped regiments for battle in the Spanish-American War. Tanner did not seek reelection to the governor’s office, however instead, he ran for the U.S. Senate. After a bitter contest, which adversely affected his health, Tanner was defeated in his senatorial bid. Governor John R. Tanner passed away on May 23, 1901 and is buried at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, 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.