WILLIAM JOHN McCONNELL was born in Commerce, Michigan, on September 18, 1839. His education was attained in Michigan’s public school system, where he pursued an academic program. McConnell moved west, and worked in various jobs, such as a banker, miner, and a cattle owner. After migrating to Oregon, McConnell entered politics in 1882, as a one-term member and president of the Oregon State Senate. In 1884, he returned to Idaho, where he settled his family in Moscow and established a career in the mercantile business. McConnell returned to his career in public service as a member of the 1890 Idaho Constitutional Convention. That same year, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1891. McConnell won the 1892 Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor of Idaho. He was reelected to a second term in 1894. During his tenure, women’s suffrage was sanctioned, two normal schools at Albion and Lewiston were founded, the state’s first district irrigation law was instituted, and legislation was passed that granted workers the right to join unions. After leaving office on January 4, 1897, McConnell was appointed Indian inspector, serving from 1897 to 1901. He also served as immigration service inspector from 1909 until his death. Governor John W. McConnell passed away on March 30, 1925, and was buried at the Moscow Cemetery.
Idaho State Historical Society Gubernatorial Manuscript and Archive Collections:
- Archive Collection of Governor William J. McConnell, AR0002.0003.
- W. J. McConnell letter, 1924. Manuscript Collection. MS2/1118.
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.