Portrait of Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon was the first native Ohioan elected as the state’s governor. [Wikimedia Commons]

Wilson Shannon - Facts

February 24, 1802 - August 30, 1877

Key facts Wilson Shannon Governor of Ohio and Governor of the Kansas Territory during the period known as Bleeding Kansas.

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Full Name:

  • Wilson Shannon

Birth Date:

  • February 24, 1802

Birth Location:

  • Barnesville, Ohio

Parents:

  • George and Jane (Milligan) Shannon

Education:

  • Ohio University
  • Transylvania University

Occupation:

  • Lawyer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • U.S. House Congressman
  • 14th and 16th Governor of Ohio
  • 2nd Territorial Governor of Kansas
  • Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico

Spouses:

  • Elizabeth Ellis, Sarah Osbun

Place of Death:

  • Lawrence, Kansas

Date of Death:

  • August 30, 1877

Place of Burial:

  • Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas

Significance:

  • Wilson Shannon was the youngest of George and Jane (Milligan) Shannon’s nine children.
  • Wilson Shannon spent his youth working on the family farm and attending the local one-room schoolhouse.
  • Wilson Shannon attended Ohio University during the 1818-19 academic year and then transferred to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he studied for two years, but did not graduate.
  • Instead, he left college to study law with his brothers, George and James, in Lexington.
  • In 1826, Wilson Shannon was admitted to the Ohio bar and established a successful law partnership with William Keenon in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
  • Wilson Shannon married Elizabeth Ellis of St. Clairsville on November 30, 1825. Their marriage, which produced one son, ended tragically on October 1, 1831, when Elizabeth died after an extended illness.
  • Wilson Shannon married Sarah Osbun of Cadiz, Ohio, on November 25, 1832. Their marriage, which lasted until Shannon’s death in 1877, produced seven offspring, four sons, and three daughters.
  • In 1829, Wilson Shannon made his first bid for public office, running unsuccessfully for the office of resident-judge of the Fifth Circuit of the Court of Common Pleas in Ohio.
  • In 1830, Wilson failed in his attempt to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by a mere thirty-seven votes out of over 6,000 ballots cast.
  • In 1833, Wilson Shannon scored his first electoral victory, winning his run for the office of Belmont County prosecutor.
  • Wilson Shannon’s first two-year term as Belmont County prosecutor was so successful that when he ran for re-election the opposition Whig Party endorsed him.
  • Wilson Shannon served as the fourteenth Governor of Ohio from December 13, 1838, to December 16, 1840.
  • Wilson Shannon was the first native Ohioan elected as the state’s governor.
  • In 1840, Wilson Shannon lost his bid for reelection as Ohio’s governor to Thomas Corwin.
  • Wilson Shannon served as the sixteenth Governor of Ohio from December 14, 1842, to April 15, 1844.
  • On April 15, 1844, Wilson Shannon resigned his office as Governor of Ohio to accept an appointment as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico.
  • Wilson Shannon served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico from April 9, 1844, to March 29, 1845.
  • In 1849, Wilson Shannon moved to California to prospect for gold.
  • During the summer of 1852, the Ohio Democratic Party drafted Wilson Shannon to stand for election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • In 1852, voters of Ohio’s Seventeenth Congressional District elected Wilson Shannon to represent them in the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1853–March 4, 1855).
  • As a U.S. Congressman, Wilson Shannon voted in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
  • On August 10, 1855, U.S. President Franklin Pierce appointed Wilson Shannon as the second territorial Governor of Kansas.
  • Wilson Shannon served as the second Governor of the Kansas Territory from August 10, 1855, to August 18, 1856, when he resigned.
  • As an avowed Jeffersonian Democrat, Wilson Shannon strongly supported states’ rights and he was no friend of the abolitionist movement.
  • During Wilson Shannon’s tenure as territorial Governor of Kansas, violence between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions continued to escalate.
  • Following his resignation as territorial Governor of Kansas, Wilson Shannon remained in Kansas, where he practiced law in Lecompton, and subsequently in Lawrence.
  • On August 30, 1877, Wilson Shannon died unexpectedly at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, at the age of seventy-five.
  • Wilson Shannon is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Wilson Shannon - Facts
  • Coverage February 24, 1802 - August 30, 1877
  • Author
  • Keywords Wilson Shannon
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 11, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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