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Browning, Orville Hickman

Orville Hickman Browning, Brady image, detail
Orville Hickman Browning was a friend and rival of Abraham Lincoln who became a prominent U.S. senator and cabinet secretary. Like Lincoln, Browning was born in Kentucky but established himself as an attorney in Illinois during the 1830s and 1840s. Browning and Lincoln served together in both the Black Hawk War and in the Illinois legislature, though Browning was a member of the state senate during the period when Lincoln served in the state house. Browning's wife Eliza was a friend and confidante of Lincoln's during much of this period. Browning himself was more distant from his Springfield colleague, hardly ever mentioning him in his voluminous diary, at least not until the 1860s. The Brownings lived in Quincy, Illinois along the Mississippi River until Browning received an appointment to the U.S. senate to succeed Stephen A. Douglas, who died in June 1861. and Browning served in the Senate from 1861 to 1863 and during that time consulted and socialized regularly with President and Mrs. Lincoln. His diary recording these interactions and other events from wartime Washington remains one of the finest political sources from the period. After the Civil War, Browning served as Secretary of Interior under President Andrew Johnson. He later returned to Quincy, Illinois and resumed his legal practice before his death in 1881. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Life span: 
02/10/1806 to 08/10/1881


How to Cite This Page: "Browning, Orville Hickman," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,