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.
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.
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.
of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division