English, William H.

Born: 1822-08-27 Indiana

Died: 1896-02-07 Indianapolis, Indiana

Born in Scott County, Indiana, William H. English studied at Hanover College and subsequently studied law. He served as clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1843 and then in the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1844 to 1848. After earning admittance to the bar in 1846, English opened a practice in Lexington Township, Indiana. He married Emma M. Jackson around 1848 and eventually had at least three children with her. He was secretary for the 1850 Indiana Constitutional Convention and won election to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1851, serving as speaker in 1852. Voters elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1853 and he remained there until 1861. During his time in Congress, English's most noteworthy act was an attempt to pass the Lecompton Constitution by attaching it to a Kansas land grant. He also served as regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 1853 to 1861. English moved to Indianapolis after his congressional career and engaged in banking and other business enterprises. His wealth increased substantially over time. In 1850 he owned $8,000 in real estate; by 1860, he owned nearly $100,000 in real and personal property. He died after a six week-long battle with complications from influenza.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1000; Charles S. Keyser, The Life of William H. English: The Democratic Candidate for Vice President of the United States (Philadelphia, PA: Ferguson Bros., 1880), 17-19; Lineage Book National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Washington, DC: N.P., 1908), 25:216; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Scott County, IN, 173; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Scott County, IN, 54; The Record-Union (Sacramento, CA), 8 February 1896, 1:5.