Hardin, John J.

Born: 1810-01-06 Frankfort, Kentucky

Died: 1847-02-23 Mexico

John J. Hardin was an attorney, military officer, and state representative. He received his license to practice law in 1831, married Sarah E. Smith, and moved from Kentucky to Jacksonville, Illinois. The following year, he fought in the Black Hawk War as a major-general. He was elected to the Illinois General Assembly as representative for Morgan County in 1836. In the legislature, he opposed Abraham Lincoln's internal improvements efforts and rivaled Lincoln for leadership of the Whig minority. Starting in 1837, he co-edited the Jacksonville newspaper The Illinoian alongside Aylett H. Buckner. He formed a law partnership with David A. Smith that lasted until Hardin's death. In 1843, Hardin, a cousin to Mary Lincoln, defeated Edward D. Baker for a seat in the U.S. Congress, but declined to seek reelection in 1844. With the outbreak of the Mexican War, Hardin served as colonel of the First Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and he died at the Battle of Buena Vista in Puerto de la Angostura, Coahuila, Mexico.

Nancy L. Cox, A Life of John Hardin of Illinois: 1810-1847 (Oxford, OH: Miami University, 1964), 1-126, 163-188; Allen Johnson, ed., Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1964), 4:2:246-47; Mark E. Neely, Jr., The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1982), 139-40; Kentucky, U.S., County Marriages, 1783-1965, 13 January 1831, Mercer County (Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2016); Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 203. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.