Harris, Thomas L.

Born: 1816-10-29 Norwich, Connecticut

Died: 1858-11-24 Petersburg, Illinois

In 1842, Harris earned admission to the Virginia bar, and that same year, he moved to Petersburg, Illinois. Three years later, Harris was elected to the Illinois Senate but declined to take the position due to the outbreak of the Mexican War. Instead, he enlisted in the military as a private and was elected major of the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. After returning from the war, Harris successfully won election as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating Stephen T. Logan. Serving from 1849 to 1851, he was not a candidate for reelection in 1852. In 1854, Harris returned to the U.S. House, and won reelection in 1856. In November 1858, Harris won his seat again, but died before his term commenced.

Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), November 25, 1858, 2:1; John M. Palmer, foreword, “Thomas Langrell Harris- A Biography by Stephen A. Douglas and James Shields,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 31 (June 1938), 160-65; Benjamin P. Thomas, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952), 123. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.