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Ninian Edwards

Gov. Ninian Edwards

  • December 6, 1826 - December 6, 1830
  • Republican-Democrat
  • March 17, 1775
  • July 20, 1833
  • Maryland
  • Dickinson College
  • Married Elvira Lane; Two Children
  • Senator


NINIAN EDWARDS, Illinois’ third governor, was born in Montgomery County, Maryland, on March 17, 1775. In 1792, he graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, then studied law, was admitted to the bar, and established a successful legal career in Russellville, Kentucky. Edwards entered politics in 1796, as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, an office he was reelected to in 1797. He also served on the bench of the general court of Kentucky in 1803, was a circuit court judge in 1804, and served as chief justice of Kentucky in 1808. Edwards was appointed Governor of the Illinois Territory, serving from 1809 to 1818, and was a member of the U.S. Senate from December 3, 1818 until March 4, 1824, when he resigned to take an appointment as minister to Mexico. However, on his way to his Mexican post, he was recalled to testify before a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives appointed to examine allegations made by him against the Secretary of State William H. Crawford. On August 7, 1826, Edwards won election to the Illinois governorship, and on December 6, 1826, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, the circuit court system was rescinded; the eradication of Indians from the state was recommended; and tactics were used against those responsible for the management of the State Bank of Edwardsville. On December 6, 1830, Edwards left office, retiring from public service. Governor Ninian Edwards died on July 20, 1833. He was buried in Belleville, Illinois and reinterred in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois in 1855.


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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