WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON EWING, Illinois’ fifth governor was born near Nashville, Tennessee, on August 31, 1795. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and established a legal career in Shawneetown, Illinois. Ewing served in the Black Hawk War as a colonel of the “spy battalion.” He also served in the Illinois militia as brigadier general. In 1820, he entered public service with an appointment as receiver of monies in the public land office at Vandalia. He served as clerk of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1826 to 1828, and he was a member and speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1830. He also served as a member and president of the Illinois State Senate from 1832 to 1834 and was Illinois’ acting lieutenant governor in 1833. On November 17, 1834, Governor John Reynolds resigned from office, and Ewing, who was president of the senate at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. His brief term lasted until December 3, 1834 and continued to carry out the policies of the Reynolds administration. A year after leaving the governor’s office, Ewing was appointed to the U.S. Senate, filling a vacancy caused by the death of Elias K. Kane, and he served until 1837. He also was reelected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1838 and 1840, serving as speaker in both terms, was clerk of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1842, and auditor of public accounts from 1843 until his death on March 25, 1846. Governor William Lee D. Ewing 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.