Cullom, Shelby M.

Born: 1829-11-22 Wayne County, Kentucky

Died: 1914-01-28 Washington, DC

Shelby M. Cullom was a farmer, teacher, attorney, city government official, state legislator, U.S. representative, governor, and U.S. Senator. Cullom moved with his family from his native Kentucky to Tazewell County, Illinois, with his family in 1830. After several years as a farm laborer and six months as a country schoolteacher, Cullom raised enough money to attend the Rock River Seminary in Mount Morris for two years. Upon the advice of Abraham Lincoln, a political friend of his father, Cullom moved to Springfield in 1853 to read law in the firm of John T. Stuart and Benjamin S. Edwards. In 1855, Cullom gained admission to the Illinois bar and voters elected him as Springfield city attorney. Throughout his life, Cullom was active in politics, first in the American Party and later as a Republican. Cullom served as a presidential elector for Millard Fillmore in presidential election of 1856 and was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1856 on a fusion American Party-Free Soil ticket. In 1858, Cullom became a Republican. In 1860, he returned to the Illinois House, serving as speaker in 1861. In 1862, President Lincoln appointed Cullom a member of the War Claims Commission at Cairo, Illinois, where he investigated the accounts of the United States quartermaster and commissary officers. In 1864, Cullom won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from March 1865 to March 1871. Cullom remained active in politics after the Civil War, serving another term in the Illinois House of Representatives, two terms as governor of Illinois, and five terms in the U.S. Senate.

Cullom married Hannah M. Fisher in 1855. Hannah died in 1861, and in 1863, Cullom married her sister Julia, who remained his wife until her death in 1909.

Edward F. Dunne, Illinois: The Heart of the Nation (Chicago & New York: Lewis, 1933), 4:39-40; Thomas R. Pegram, "Cullom, Shelby Moore," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 5:841-43; John Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:549-53; The United States Biographical Directory and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men: Illinois Volume (Chicago: American Biographical, 1883), 25-26; Albert A. Woldman, Lawyer Lincoln (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1936), 282; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 890; Gravestone, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.