Wilson, John (of Chicago)

Born: 1807-XX-XX Ireland, United Kingdom

Died: 1876-01-10 Washington, DC

Flourished: Washington, DC

John Wilson was an attorney and federal government official. Wilson immigrated at an early age with his family from his native Ireland to the United States, settling in Washington, DC. He found work as a clerk in the U.S. Post Office Department and the U.S. Department of the Treasury before moving on to the U.S. General Land Office. During his twenty-five career with the General Land Office, Wilson rose in the ranks from messenger to become principal clerk of public lands in 1851. In 1852, President Millard Fillmore appointed him commissioner of the General Land Office, a position he held until 1855. After his tenure in the General Land Office, Wilson moved to Chicago, where he practiced law. In addition to his law practice, Wilson became involved in state politics. A long-time Whig and close associate of former President Fillmore, Wilson remained a devoted Whig, but as the party began to disintegrate in 1850s, he gravitated to the American Party, becoming the leader of the party in Illinois. During the presidential election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln and his advisers deemed Wilson's support vital for Lincoln's success, and Lincoln's allies secured Wilson's support for Lincoln's candidacy. In 1864, Wilson left his law practice and moved from Chicago to Washington, DC, where he became third auditor of the U.S. Treasury, a position he held for several years after the Civil War.

Obituary, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), 11 January 1876, 4:3; Charles Lanman, Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States, 2nd ed. (New York: J. M. Morrison, 1887), 552; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1851), 134; Bruce Chadwick, Lincoln for President: An Unlikely Candidate, An Audacious Strategy, and the Victory No One Saw Coming (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2009), 195-96.