SHELBY M. CULLOM, Illinois’ eighteenth governor, was born in Monticello, Kentucky, on November 22, 1829. His early education was attained in the common schools in Illinois. He attended Mount Morris Seminary for two years, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1855, and established a legal career in Springfield, Illinois. Cullom entered politics in 1855, serving as city attorney of Springfield. He served as a presidential elector in 1856, was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1856, 1860, 1861, and 1873 to 1874, where he also served as speaker in the 1861 and 1873 sessions. He served as a member to the U.S. House of Representatives from March 4, 1865 to March 3, 1871 and was a delegate to the 1872 Republican National Convention. Cullom won election to the Illinois governorship on November 6, 1876. He was reelected to a second term on November 2, 1880. During his tenure, a board of fish commissioners was founded, taxation laws were amended, the bureau of labor statistics was established, and election polls were directed to be open from eight a.m. to seven p.m. Also, the state board of health was authorized, appropriations were secured for payment of military services used in the 1877 riots, the state debt was eliminated, the Illinois and Michigan canal was ceded to the U.S., and senatorial and congressional districts were allocated. Cullom resigned from the governor’s office on February 5, 1883, to take his seat in the U.S. Senate. He served in the senate from March 4, 1883 to March 3, 1913. He also served as a delegate to the 1884 and 1892 Republican National Conventions, was regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 1885 to 1913 and served as chairman and commissioner of the Lincoln Memorial Commission in 1913 and 1914. Governor Shelby M. Cullom died in Washington, D.C., on January 28, 1914. He was 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.