Henry, Anson G.

Born: 1804-10-03 Richfield, New York

Died: 1865-07-30 Pacific Ocean

Flourished: 1832-1850 Springfield, Illinois

Henry studied medicine with a New York physician and moved to Springfield, Illinois, in 1832. He practiced medicine in Sangamo Town in 1833 and formed a medical partnership with Dr. E. H. Merriman in Springfield in 1842. Henry was a leader of the Whigs in Springfield and a close friend of Abraham Lincoln. He actively supported the state's internal improvements program, and the legislature elected him one of three commissioners to superintend the construction of the new statehouse in Springfield in 1837. That same year, he unsuccessfully ran in a bitter political contest against James Adams for the office of Probate Judge. In 1840, Henry moved to Pekin, Illinois, where he remained active in Whig politics and became editor of the Tazewell Telegraph. Henry later returned to Springfield, and delegates elected him as president of the Sangamon County Whig convention in 1844 and chairman of the state central committee. In June 1850, Henry received appointment as an Indian agent in the Oregon Territory. He accepted this appointment, drew an advance of $750 on his salary, and set out for Oregon. He traveled as far as the Isthmus of Panama, returning to Springfield in October 1850. In late 1850 or early 1851, Henry returned to the Isthmus, where he served as a physician to workers building a railroad. Formally resigning his post as Indian agent, he resumed practicing medicine in Springfield. In April 1852, he organized a small group of emigrants and led them to the Oregon Territory, arriving in Yamhill County after 152 days of travel. Henry laid claim to 320 acres of land and commence farming, supplementing his income by practicing medicine. Resuming his interest in politics, Henry began to organize a Whig political organization in Oregon. He won election to the lower house of the territorial legislature in 1853 for one two-month session and served as a Commissary and Quartermaster General in the Rogue River Indian War of 1855. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Surveyor General of the Washington Territory in 1861, for which he moved to Olympia. He remained in that position for the duration of Lincoln's administration. In 1865, he died in the Pacific Ocean near the boundary between California and Oregon.

Harry E. Pratt, "Dr. Anson G. Henry: Lincoln's Physician and Friend," Lincoln Herald 45 (October 1943): 3-17; 45 (December 1943): 31-40; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 11 March 1842, 3:2; Elbert F. Floyd, “Insights into the Personal Friendship and Patronage of Abraham Lincoln and Anson Gordon Henry, M.D.: Letters for Dr. Henry to His Wife, Eliza,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 98 (Winter 2005/2006), 220, 223; Wayne C. Temple, "Dr. Anson G. Henry: Personal Physician to the Lincolns," Historical Bulletin of the Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin 43 (1988), 7-8.