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Early life, education, and career 
Born in Louisville, Kentucky to a prominent family in regional politics, Pope graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 1806. He then read law to be was admitted to the bar, and settled in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, in 1804, where he commenced the practice of law in the Louisiana Territory, which had recently become part of the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
Government service 
When Illinois Territory was organized in 1809, the influence of Pope's family, especially that of his brother, John, U.S. Senator from Kentucky, helped Pope to become appointed as Secretary of the Territory by President James Madison on 23 February 1809. The Pope family influence also resulted in Pope's cousin, Ninian Edwards, being appointed as Territorial Governor. Pope moved first to Vandalia and then to Springfield. He was reappointed in 1813 and served until 1816, when he resigned after being elected September 5, 1816 as Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress. He served as Delegate in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth United States Congresses.
Illinois was admitted as a state while Pope was in Congress, and he was instrumental in adjusting the northern boundary of the state from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to 42° 30', thus adding the territory now included in the thirteen northern counties. This action became very important for the development of the State, because it added what was to become its largest city, Chicago.
Upon leaving Congress, he was appointed register of the land office at Edwardsville, Illinois, on November 30, 1818, and served until March 3, 1819. On that date, he was nominated by President James Monroe to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Illinois created by 3 Stat. 502, and was immediately confirmed by the United States Senate, and awarded his commission. An unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1824, Pope continued to serve as a federal judge until his death, in 1850.
Pope died in St. Louis, Missouri and is interred in the Colonel O’Fallon Burying Ground, on the Bellefontaine Road. His son, was General John Pope and he had a nephew, Daniel Pope Cook, who was also prominent in Illinois politics.
- "Nathaniel Pope:From Connections and Factional Politics to Champion of Statehood" from Illinois History, December 1993
- Nathaniel Pope at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
Additional reading 
- Angle, Paul M. McClelland. Nathaniel Pope from 1784 to 1850, A Memoir. [Springfield, Ill.]: Privately printed, 1937.
- Bloom, Jo Tice. "Peaceful Politics: The Delegates from Illinois Territory from 1809 to 1818." The Old Northwest 6 (Fall 1980): 203-15.
- Illinois (Ter.) Laws, Statutes, etc. Laws of the Territory of Illinois, revised and digested, under the authority of the legislature. By Nathaniel Pope. Kaskaskia: Printed by Matthew Duncan Printer to the Territory, 1815.
|United States House of Representatives|
|Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois Territory
March 4, 1817 – November 30, 1818
|Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Illinois
March 3, 1819 – January 22, 1850