Palmer, John M.

Born: 1817-09-13 Scott County, Kentucky

Died: 1900-09-25 Springfield, Illinois

John M. Palmer moved to Illinois in 1831. He attended Alton Seminary (Shurtleff College) from 1834 to 1836. Palmer later settled in Carlinville, studied law, and gained admission to the bar in 1839. In 1842, Palmer married Malinda Ann Neely, with whom he had ten children. In 1843, voters elected him as a probate justice of the peace. Palmer was active in Democratic politics and served as a member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1847 and as a county judge in 1848. In 1850, he was practicing law in Carlinville and owned $2,500 in real property. In 1852, he was elected to the Illinois Senate. Opposed to the spread of slavery, Palmer ran for reelection to the Senate as an anti-Nebraska Democrat in 1854. In 1856, he was president of the Bloomington Convention. In November 1859, Palmer ran for Congress to replace the deceased Thomas L. Harris, but lost to John A. McClernand. In 1860, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. By June 1860, he had increased his wealth, owning $5,000 in real property, with a personal estate of $2,000. Palmer served as a delegate to the 1861 Washington Peace Conference. With the outbreak of Civil War, he began his military career as colonel of the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry and eventually attained the rank of major general before being relieved of his command in August 1864.

Illinois State Register (Springfield), 26 September 1900, 1:1-4; Cullom Davis, "Palmer, John McAuley," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 16:951-52; Mark E. Neely Jr., The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1982), 231-32; John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:429-41; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Carlinville, Macoupin County, IL, 175; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Macoupin County, IL, 47. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.