Philip R. VanderMeer, "English, William Hayden," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00218.html.
Elected to the state house in 1851, [English] was chosen Speaker in March 1852, the youngest person to that date to hold this office and one of only a few Indiana legislators ever to be chosen Speaker during his or her first term. In that same year he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he remained until retiring in 1861. As a northern Democrat who was sympathetic to the South and slavery but clearly a Unionist, he obtained a degree of prominence. Serving on the House Committee on Territories, English was directly involved in the crucial issues of the era. He supported the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and was one of only seven northern Democrats to survive the 1854 election. Even more challenging was the struggle over Kansas statehood and the proslavery Lecompton constitution. As one of the House members of the congressional conference committee, English crafted a compromise bill, known as the "English Bill." The compromise resubmitted the Lecompton constitution to the voters of Kansas, ostensibly because the congressional measure offered them less land than had been originally requested but most importantly with the threat that, if the constitution were rejected, Kansas statehood would be delayed for some time. The passage of this bill further divided the Democratic party, though it was rejected by Kansas voters. English was reelected in 1858, but he chose not to run in 1860. He made a fruitless journey to the Democratic convention of that year, urging unity and the Union. When secession occurred, he denounced it, but he also declined to accept command of an army regiment.