John James Ingalls, author, lawyer, and United States senator, was born in Middleton, Mass., Dec. 29, 1833, a son of Elias T. and Eliza (Chase) Ingalls. He was descended from Edmond Ingalls, who, with his brother, Francis, founded the town of Lynn, Mass., in 1868. His father was a first cousin of Mehitable Ingalls, the grandmother of the late President Garfield. His mother was a descendant of Aquilla Chase, who settled in New Hampshire in 1630. Chief Justice Chase was of this family. After going through the public schools, Ingalls attended Williams College, at Williamstown, Mass., graduating in 1855. He then studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1857. The next year he came to Kansas and, in 1859, was a member of the Wyandotte constitutional convention. In 1860 he was secretary of the territorial council and was also secretary of the first state senate, in 1861. The next year he was elected state senator from Atchison county. In that year, and again in 1864, he was nominated for lieutenant-governor on the anti-Lane ticket. During the Civil war he served as judge advocate on the staff of Gen. George W. Deitzler with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In 1865 Mr. Ingalls married Miss Anna Louisa Cheeseborough, a descendant of William Cheeseborough, who came to this country with Gov. Winthrop in 1630. Her father, Ellsworth Cheeseborough, was a New York importer who came to Atchison, Kan., in 1859, and at the time of his death, in 1860, was an elector on the Lincoln ticket. Of this union eleven children were born, six of whom were living at the time of Mr. Ingalls' death, viz: Ellsworth, Ethel, Ralph, Sheffield, Marion and Muriel.
In 1873, "Opportunity," of which Mr. Ingalls wrote in his declining years, knocked at his door. He was made a candidate for United States senator at a private caucus one night and was elected by the legislature the next day. His career at Washington, covering a period of eighteen years, was one of great brilliancy. He quickly acquired distinction, and Speaker Reed remarked before he had learned the name of the new senator: "Any man who can state a proposition as that senator does is a great man." As a parliamentarian he was unsurpassed. Senator Harris, a Democrat from Tennessee, said: "Mr. Ingalls will go down upon the records as the greatest presiding officer in the history of the senate." His speeches made him famous. He was the master of sarcasm and satire, as well as of eulogistic oratory. His address on John Brown, a speech of blistering satire; the one delivered in Atchison after his vindication in the senate; and his eulogies of Senator Hill and Senator Wilson are classic masterpieces, seldom if ever excelled in oratory. Senator Ingalls was a strict partisan, an invincible champion of any cause, and a bitter and persevering opponent. During his three terms in the senate his greatest efforts were in the advocacy of the constitutional rights of the freedom of the South and the rights of the veterans of the Civil war. When a wave of Populism came over Kansas it found him practically unprepared. He had given little attention to the money question and the tariff, and it was these things which were clamoring for solution. He was defeated by the Populists for senator in 1891. Mr. Ingalls said many times that he valued a seat in the senate above any other honor in the gift of the American people. As an author Mr. Ingalls won his reputation first by a number of articles appearing in the old "Kansas Magazine," among which were "Cat-Fish Aristocracy" and "Blue Grass." His poem, "Opportunity," is worthy to be classed with the greatest in the English language, and it may yet outlive his reputation as an orator and statesman and be his lasting monument. After leaving the senate Mr. Ingalls retired from active life, traveled for his health, and died in New Mexico, Aug. 16, 1900. In January, 1905, a statue of him was installed in Statuary Hall at Washington with fitting ceremonies, being the first statue to be contributed by Kansas, although Ingalls during his lifetime had urged upon the state to place one of John Brown in this hall.Pages 737-738 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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