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Knox, James

Born: 1807-07-04 Canajoharie, New York

Died: 1876-10-08 Knoxville, Illinois

Flourished: Knoxville, Illinois

James Knox was a lawyer, farmer, merchant, railroad executive, and U.S. representative. Knox prepared for college at Hamilton Academy in his native state. He matriculated to Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, and later Yale College, graduating from Yale in 1830. Knox read law, earned admission to the New York bar, and commenced practicing law in Utica, New York. In 1836, he moved to Illinois, settling in Knoxville, where he practiced law and engaged in mercantile and agricultural pursuits. In January 1841, Knox married Prudence H. Blish, who died childless in 1846. James promoted railroad construction in Knox County, becoming one of the strongest advocates for construction of the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad and its first president. In 1847, Knox County voters elected Knox, as a Whig, to represent the county at the Illinois State Constitutional Convention. In 1850, Knox was working as a merchant in Knoxville and owned real property valued at $10,000. In 1852, he won election, as a Whig, to the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Fourth Illinois Congressional District. Upon the demise of the Whig Party, Knox gradually gravitated to the Republican Party. He retained his seat in 1854, serving in the House until 1857. After his term in Congress, Knox returned to his law practice in Knoxville. From 1857 to 1861, he traveled to Berlin, Prussia, seeking medical aid for an unknown illness. In his later years, Knox made generous donations to various colleges and universities.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1347; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Henry County, 20 January 1841, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 450; Arthur Charles Cole, ed., The Constitutional Debates of 1847, vol. 14 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Constitutional Series (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1919), 2:967-68; History of Knox County, Illinois (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman, 1878), 686-87; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Knoxville, Knox County, IL, 324.