Leonard J. Farwell

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Leonard Farwell
LeonardJFarwell extracted.jpg
1865 portrait of Farwell by William F. Cogswell
2nd Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 5, 1852 – January 2, 1854
Lieutenant Timothy Burns
Preceded by Nelson Dewey
Succeeded by William Augustus Barstow
Personal details
Born (1819-01-05)January 5, 1819
Watertown, New York
Died April 11, 1889(1889-04-11) (aged 70)
Grant City, Missouri
Resting place Grant City Cemetery
Grant City, Missouri
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Frances A. Cross
Children Cornelia Louise Farwell
William Cross Farwell
Leonard Newton Farwell

Leonard James Farwell (January 5, 1819 – April 11, 1889) was an American politician and the second Governor of Wisconsin.[1]

Early life[edit]

Farwell was born in Watertown, New York, and moved to Wisconsin in 1840, prior to its statehood.[1] He first settled in Milwaukee and moved to Madison in 1847, where he owned a great amount of property, and made considerable improvements to the city.[1]


Elected Governor of Wisconsin as a member of the Whig Party, Farwell served as governor from 1852 to 1854.[1] On July 12, 1853, in one of his more notable actions as governor, he signed a law that abolished the death penalty in Wisconsin and replaced it with a penalty of life imprisonment.[1] This made Wisconsin the first state to abolish the gallows.[1]

In 1857 Farwell ran for alderman in Madison but lost by a close margin. Also that year, Farwell lost his land holdings due to the effects of the Panic of 1857. He served in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1860.[2]

From 1863 to 1870, Farwell worked in Washington, D.C. as principal examiner in the U.S. Patent Office.[1] He was present at Ford's Theatre the day President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and was the first person to inform then-Vice President Andrew Johnson of the assassination.

After seven years in Washington, Farwell moved to Chicago and started a patent agency, but he fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.[1] He then relocated to Grant City, Missouri.


Farwell died in Grant City, Missouri, on April 11, 1889 at the age of 70. He is interred at Grant City Cemetery, Grant City, Missouri.[1]

Family life[edit]

Son of James and Rebecca Cady Farwell, he married Frances A. CORSS and their children were Cornelia Louise, William Cross and Leonard Newton Farwell.3


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Chapter 6: Wisconsin Governors". Encyclopedia of Wisconsin. 200 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017 U.S.A.: Somerset Publishers. 1990. p. 94. ISBN 0-403-09907-1. 
  2. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1860,' pg. 9

3. Family Histories 1500–2000 for Leonard James Farwell; > DAR Lineage Book: NSDAR: vol 104: 1913.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nelson Dewey
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
William A. Barstow