Harris, Thomas Langrell

Thomas Langrell Harris was a prominent Illinois Democrat who supported Stephen Douglas and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Harris was born in Norwich, Connecticut one of two sons of George and Henrietta Blake Harris. Despite the death of his father when he was only two, Harris graduated from Trinity College in Hartford in 1841. He immediately moved to Amherst County, Virginia where he qualified for the bar. By 1842, however, he had opened a practice at Petersburg in Menard County, Illinois. When the Mexican War broke out he raised a company and served with distinction in the 4th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. On his return he was elected to Congress as a Democrat, following Abraham Lincoln in the Sixth District in 1849. He supported the Compromise of 1850, however, and this cost him his seat when he lost the election to the Whig Richard Yates. He returned to Congress in 1855 in his reapportioned Illinois district and served two full terms. He was a good friend and vigorous supporter of Stephen Douglas, especially during the Kansas-Nebraska controversy. Even though he was by then seriously ill, Harris also worked closely with Douglas on his planning for the senatorial debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858, advising him to make Lincoln the central issue. Three weeks after his further re-election in November 1858 Harris died of tuberculosis at his home in Petersburg. He left a wife and four children and was buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Petersburg. (By John Osborne)
Life Span
    Full name
    Thomas Langrell Harris
    Place of Birth
    Burial Place
    Birth Date Certainty
    Free State
    Other Education
    Trinity College, CT
    Attorney or Judge
    Political Parties
    US Senate
    State legislature
    US military (Pre-Civil War)

    Thomas Langrell Harris (Congressional Biographical Directory)

    HARRIS, Thomas Langrell, a Representative from Illinois; born in Norwich, Conn., October 29, 1816; pursued classical studies and was graduated from Washington (now Trinity) College, Hartford, Conn., in 1841; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1842 and commenced practice in Petersburg, Menard County, Ill.; school commissioner for Menard County in 1845; during the Mexican War raised and commanded a company and joined the Fourth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry; subsequently elected major of the regiment; while absent and with the Army was elected a member of the State senate in 1846; was presented with a sword by the State of Illinois for gallantry at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, Mexico; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-first Congress (March 4, 1849-March 3, 1851); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1850 to the Thirty-second Congress; was not a candidate in 1852; elected to the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth Congresses and served from March 4, 1855, until his death; chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy (Thirty-fourth Congress), Committee on Elections (Thirty-fifth Congress); had been reelected to the Thirty-sixth Congress; died in Springfield, Ill., November 24, 1858; interment in Rose Hill Cemetery, Petersburg, Ill.
    "Harris, Thomas Langrell," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H000255.
    How to Cite This Page: "Harris, Thomas Langrell," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/24006.