Richard James Oglesby



Richard Oglesby was born into a slave-owning family in Oldham County, Kentucky, in 1824.  He was only a child when his parents and three siblings died from cholera in 1833. The family property and their slaves were all sold, and Oglesby was taken to Decatur, Illinois, where he attended school a few months before beginning to make his own way in life as a farmer, a rope-maker, and a carpenter.


Oglesby studied law and then entered practice before serving in an Illinois unit during the Mexican War.  He entered Illinois politics before the Civil War but resigned his office to become the colonel of the 8th Illinois Volunteers.  He served at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson and was severely wounded at the battle of Corinth, Mississippi.  Resigning his army commission in 1864, Oglesby was elected governor of Illinois in November 1864 and was a strong advocate of Abraham Lincoln’s war policies. 


In the years after President Lincoln’s death, Oglesby served as president of the National Lincoln Monument Association, and he delivered the dedication address when the memorial was unveiled in Springfield, Illinois, in 1874.




Richard J. Oglesby

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division