William J. Allen

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William J. Allen

William Joshua Allen (June 9, 1829 – January 26, 1901) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois during much of the American Civil War, and was later a United States federal judge.

Born in Wilson County, Tennessee, as a son of Willis Allen, he moved with his father to Franklin (now Williamson) County, Illinois, about 1830, and in 1839 settled in Marion. Allen attended the common schools, and received an LL.B. from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1848. He was admitted to the bar in 1849 and was an enrolling and engrossing clerk for the Illinois state legislature in 1849 and 1851. He was in private practice in Metropolis, Illinois from 1849 to 1853, and in Marion, Illinois from 1853 to 1862. He was appointed as a prosecuting attorney of 26th judicial district of Illinois from 1853 to 1854, serving briefly as a state senator of Illinois State Legislature in 1855, before becoming the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois from 1855 to 1859. Allen was elected judge of the circuit court of the twenty-sixth judicial circuit on June 24, 1859, and served until 1861.

Allen was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John A. Logan. He was reelected to the Thirty-eighth Congress and served from June 2, 1862, to March 3, 1865. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1864. He served as member of the State constitutional conventions in 1862 and 1870, and served as delegate to all Democratic National Conventions from 1864 to 1888. He was in private practice in Cairo, Illinois (where he partnered with Samuel P. Wheeler) from 1865 to 1874, in Carbondale, Illinois from 1874 to 1886, and in Springfield, Illinois from 1886 to 1887.

On April 18, 1887, Allen received a recess appointment from Grover Cleveland to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois vacated by Samuel H. Treat. Formally nominated on December 20, 1887, Allen was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 19, 1888, and received his commission the same day. Allen served until his death, while visiting Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was interred in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.