Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., has transferred its
collection of Richard Yates' papers, measuring 8 linear feet, to the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The
donation will supplement the Yates family collection comprising 15
linear feet already held by the presidential library, making it the
world's most complete research collection regarding the man who
served as Illinois governor from 1860 to 1865, one of the key
American political figures of the mid-19th century.
"Wabash College is delighted to see these papers returning to
their proper home in Springfield," said Wabash College's Beth Swift.
"The Yates papers we have had at Wabash are but a part of the larger
collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and we are
gratified that scholars will be able to study the entire collection
in one place. We look forward to the scholarship that will result
from this reunification. It is our pleasure to play a part in
returning these historically important items to the place where most
of them originated."
"The Richard Yates papers received from Wabash College nicely
complement the Yates collection held by the presidential library,
filling gaps that have existed in our collection," said ALPLM
director Eileen Mackevich. "Researchers will appreciate having these
two collections united in one facility. We thank Wabash College for
this generous and thoughtful gift."
Richard Yates (1815-1873), like Lincoln, was born in Kentucky and
moved with his family to Illinois. Yates came to Illinois in 1831,
graduated from Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1835, studied law
in Kentucky and returned to Jacksonville to work as an attorney
after he passed the bar exam in 1837.
Yates, a Whig, was elected to the Illinois House of
Representatives from 1842 to 1846 and 1849-1850. In 1850, he was
elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served until 1855,
when his stance against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and
his identification with the new, anti-slavery Republican Party
caused him to be defeated in his pro-slavery district.
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Yates was elected governor of Illinois in 1860. As the state's
commander-in-chief, he sent more soldiers to aid the Union cause
early in the war than any other state. He appointed Ulysses S. Grant
the mustering officer for the state and afterward colonel of the
21st Illinois regiment, putting Grant on the path that would lead to
military and political greatness.
Yates was a staunch supporter of President Lincoln and the
Emancipation Proclamation and was rewarded with much federal
spending in Illinois during the 16th president's tenure.
After his service as governor ended, Yates was elected as a
Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4,
1865, to March 3, 1871.
He died in 1873 and is buried in Jacksonville's Diamond Grove
A statue of Yates was erected on the Illinois State Capitol
grounds in 1923.
His son, also named Richard Yates, was governor of Illinois from
1901 to 1905.
The Robert T. Ramsay Jr. Archival Center at Wabash College
acquired its Yates collection as a donation from the family of
Winfred Harbison, a former Wabash College faculty member. Harbison
had received the papers from Yates' granddaughter for a planned
biography of the governor. Harbison died before completing the
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum also has
collections from Illinois Govs. John Palmer, Richard Oglesby, Len
Small, Henry Horner, William Stratton, Richard Ogilvie and Dan
For more information on the presidential library and museum,
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
file received from the