Shannon, Wilson, second territorial governor of Kansas, was born in what is now Belmont county, Ohio, Feb. 24, 1802. His father was frozen to death in the winter of 1803 while on a hunting expedition, the eldest son, John, being at that time about nineteen years of age. It was due chiefly to the assistance of his brothers, John and Thomas, that Wilson received his education. As soon as he was old enough to be of assistance he was put to work on the farm, but at the age of eighteen years his brothers sent him to the Ohio University at Athens, where he studied for two years, and then entered Transylvania University at Lexington, Ky. While a student in this institution he read law with his brothers, George and James, and in 1826 began the practice of law at St. Clairsville, Ohio. He soon won distinction at the bar and became an active factor in politics. By 1832 he had become so well known that the Democratic party nominated him for Congress, the Whig candidate being Gen. James M. Bell. Although the Whigs were in a majority in the district Mr. Shannon made such a vigorous campaign that Bell was elected by a bare 37 votes. The following year Mr. Shannon was elected county attorney of Belmont county, and in 1835 was reëlected. In 1838 he was elected governor of Ohio, but in 1840 he was defeated for reëlection by Thomas Corwin. Two years later he again ran against Corwin, and this time was elected. Upon the expiration of his second term as governor he was appointed minister to Mexico by President Tyler, and served in that capacity until diplomatic relations were suspended in May, 1845. He then practiced law in Cincinnati until 1849, when he went to California. Two years later he returned to Ohio, with about the same amount of money as he had when he started for the Pacific coast, and resumed his law practice. In 1852 he was elected to represent his district in the lower house of Congress, and while a member of that body voted for the Kansas-Nebraska bill. On Aug. 10, 1855, he was commissioned governor of Kansas Territory by President Pierce. The fact that he had voted for the Kansas-Nebraska bill caused his appointment to be hailed with delight by the pro-slavery men in Kansas and the western part of Missouri, who hoped to gain greater advantages than they had been able to do during the administration of Gov. Reeder. His administration actually lasted but about eleven months, but during that time occurred some of the most turbulent scenes of the "Border War." After his resignation, in Aug., 1856, he located at Lawrence and in a short time became one of the best known attorneys in the territory, and later in the state. Gov. Shannon was twice married. His first wife, who lived but a few years after their marriage, was a Miss Ellis, whose father was at one time county clerk of Belmont county, Ohio. His second wife was Sarah Osbun of Cadiz, Ohio. Gov. Shannon died at Lawrence on Aug. 30, 1877.Pages 675-676 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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