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Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers 1912

This biography was submitted by a researcher and are abstracted from the above named publication.. Errors could occur, so one should always verify the correctness by obtaining copies of vitals and performing all necessary research to document what is contained herein.

CONKLING, JAMES COOK, lawyer, was born in New York City, Oct. 13, 1816; graduated at Princeton College in 1835, and, after studying law and being admitted to the bar at Morristown, N.J., in 1838, removed to Springfield, Ill. Here his first business partner was Cyrus Walker, an eminent and widely known lawyer of his time, while at a later period he was associated with Gen. James Shields, afterwards a soldier of the Mexican War and a United States Senator, at different times, from three different States. As an original Whig, Mr. Conkling early became associated with Abraham Lincoln, whose intimate and trusted friend he was through life. It was to him that Mr. Lincoln addressed his celebrated letter, which, by his special request, Mr. Conkling read before the great Union mass meeting at Springfield, held Sept. 3, 1863, now known as the "Lincoln-Conkling Letter." Mr. Conkling was chosen Mayor of the city of Springfield in 1844 and served in the lower branch of the Seventeenth and Twenty-fifth General Assemblies (1851 and 1867). It was largely due to his tactful management in the latter, that the first appropriation was made for the new State House, which established the capital permanently in that city. At the Bloomington Convention of 1856, where the Republican party in Illinois may be said to have been formally organized, with Mr. Lincoln and three others, he represented Sangamon County, served on the Committee on Resolutions, and was appointed a member of the State Central Committee which conducted the campaign of that year. In 1860, and again in 1864, his name was on the Republican State ticket for Presidential Elector, and, on both occasions, it became his duty to cast the electoral vote of Mr. Lincoln's own District for him for President. The intimacy of personal friendship existing between him and Mr. Lincoln was fittingly illustrated by his position for over thirty years as an original member of the Lincoln Monument Association. Other public positions held by him included those of State Agent during the Civil War by appointment of Governor Yates, Trustee of the State University at Campaign, and of Blackburn University at Carlinville, as also that of Postmaster of the city of Springfield, to which he was appointed in 1890, continuing in office four years. High minded and honorable, of pure personal character and strong religious convictions, public spirited and liberal, probably no man did more to promote the growth and prosperity of the city of Springfield, during the sixty years of his residence there, than he. His death, as a result of old age, occurred in that city, March 1, 1899. - Clinton L. (Conkling), son of the preceding, was born in Springfield, Oct. 16, 1843; graduated at Yale College in 1864, and studied law with his father, and was licensed to practice in the Illinois courts in 1866, and in the United States courts in 1867. After practicing a few years, he turned his attention manufacturing, but in 1877, resumed practice and has proved successful. He has devoted much attention of late years to real estate business, and has represented large land interests in this and other States. For many years he was Secretary of the Lincoln Monument Association, and has served on the Board of County Supervisors, which is the only political office he has held. In 1897 he was the Republican nominee for Judge of the Springfield Circuit, but, although confessedly a man of the highest probity and ability, was defeated in a district overwhelmingly Democratic.

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