Morris, Buckner S.

Born: 1800-08-19 Augusta, Kentucky

Died: 1879-12-16 Chicago, Illinois

Buckner S. Morris was admitted to the bar in 1827. He won election to the Kentucky General Assembly in 1830 and 1832. He married Evilina Barker in 1832, with whom he had two children. Evilina died in 1847, and he married Eliza A. Stephenson, who died in 1855, leaving Morris one son.

Morris moved to Chicago in 1834, where he became one of the city's earliest leaders. A lawyer who practiced with John J. Brown, he won election as the city's second mayor in 1838. Morris served alongside Abraham Lincoln as a Whig elector in the election of 1840. He also served on the Chicago Board of Aldermen several times. In 1851, Morris was elected judge of the Seventh Illinois Circuit and remained in that office until 1855. He unsuccessfully ran for governor as a Know-Nothing in 1856 and as a moderate in 1860. During the Civil War, Morris was considered a Copperhead, and authorities arrested him in 1864 for conspiring to release prisoners from Camp Douglas. He was later acquitted and released by a military court.

In a speech to the Order of the Sons of Liberty in the autumn of 1864, Morris condemned President Lincoln's tyranny and said that many of the country's best men were "rotting in Lincoln's bastiles." If they were set free from Camp Douglas, they would "send abolitionists to hell in a hand basket."

A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884), 1:426-28; M. L. Ahern, The Political History of Chicago (Chicago: Michael Loftus Ahern, 1886), 88-89; I. Winslow Ayer, The Great North-Western Conspiracy (Chicago: Rounds and James, 1865), 47.