Sangamon County Political Biographies


Republican Shelby Cullom was inaugurated Illinois' 18th Governor in 1877, after having successfully outmaneuvered the incumbent John Beveridge in the state nominating convention the previous year.

A military atmosphere pervaded the executive mansion during the Cullom administration. At the inaugural reception, the German reed and cornet band and Butler's band played, and among the dashing military figures were Generals John A. Logan, and John A. McClernand. Described as "the tall quaking ash of the Sangamon," by the Chicago Tribune, Cullom is the only Sangamon County resident to be elected governor. He served three times as a Congressman, two as Governor, and five as U.S. Senator. He failed on his attempt to represent Springfield in the White House when he was unable to get the solid support of the Illinois Delegation to back him for the presidential nomination at the 1888 and 1892 national conventions.

Calling home the stately white-pillared mansion he built at 611 North Sixth Street in 1870 on land he had purchased five years earlier from General John A. McClernand, he lived there until 1895. At this time, since he was spending so much time in Washington, he sold the home and used the Leland Hotel as his residence when he visited Springfield. The old home was torn down in 1972 to make way for an animal hospital.

Cullom, who died in 1914 and is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, compiled al almost unequalled record of distinguished public service in the state of Illinois. He was known as the founder of the Interstate Commerce Commission Act of 1887, which placed such traffic under the control fo the federal government. He was also that man who nominated Ulysses S. Grant for his second White House term with what still stands as the shortest speech on record - 79 words.

A senator, born in Monticello, Wayne County, Kentucky, 22 November 1829. His father settled in Tazewell County, Illinois, in 1830, where he became prominent among the pioneers of the state, a member of the legislature, and a trusted friend of Abraham Lincoln. The son received a classical education, began the study of law in Springfield, Illinois, in 1853, and as soon as he was admitted to the bar was elected City attorney. He practiced law in Springfield, was a candidate for presidential elector on the Fillmore ticket in 1856, elected to the legislature in 1856 and 1860, chosen speaker in his second term, a member of the war commission that sat at Cairo in 1862, and a member of congress from Illinois from 4 December 1865, till 3 March 1871, representing the Springfield district, which before his election was democratic. During his third term he served as chairman of the committee on territories, conducted an investigation into the question of polygamy in Utah, and secured the passage of a bill for the extirpation of polygamy, which failed to come to a vote in the senate. In 1872 he returned to the Illinois House of Representatives, was elected speaker in 1873, and in 1874 served another term in the legislature. After his return from Washington he became a banker at Springfield. He was a member of the Republican national convention in 1868, and, as chairman of the Illinois delegation, placed General Grant in nomination at Philadelphia in 1872 and General Logan in 1884. He was elected governor of Illinois in 1876, and reelected in 1880, serving from 8 January 1877, to 5 February 1883, when he resigned, having been chosen U. S. senator as a republican, to succeed David Davis, independent democrat, for the term expiring on 3 March 1889. Mr. Cullom has been prominently connected with the question of railroad regulation. As speaker of the House of Representatives he appointed the committee that drafted the stringent railroad law of Illinois, which was one of the first states to take action on the subject. During his service of six years as governor it became his duty to appoint the Illinois railroad commissioners, and to see that they secured the enforcement of the law, which was sustained by the courts and practically put in operation during his administration. As senator he has been zealous and active in endeavoring to secure national legislation upon the same subject, and in 1885, as chairman of the senate committee on interstate commerce, conducted an investigation into the question of the regulation of railroad corporations by national legislation. His report upon this subject, submitted to the senate, 18 January 1886, is an elaborate review of the whole subject, and has attracted attention at home and abroad, resulting" in the passage by the senate of the bill that bears his name, which was referred to a conference committee of the two houses.
[Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM - Submitted by Debbie Quinn]


© Genealogy Trails