Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BLODGETT, Henry Williams, jurist, born in Amherst, Massachusetts, 21 July, 1821. His parents removed to Illinois about 1831. When seventeen years of age Henry attended the Amherst academy one year, whence he returned to Illinois and engaged in teaching and subsequently in land-surveying until twenty-one years of age. He studied law in Chicago with Jonathan Y. Scaremen and Norman B. Judd, was admitted to the bar in 1845, and began practice in Waukegan, Illinois, where he still resides. In 1844 he voted the Antislavery ticket, and he has since been an adherent of the Anti-slavery and Republican parties. In 1852 he was elected to the general assembly of Illinois, being the first avowed Anti-slavery member that ever occupied a seat in that body, and in the following year was elected to the state senate. As a legislator he was one of the ablest and most useful, and was largely instrumental in shaping the legislation of the commonwealth and in promoting the development of the resources of Illinois. In 1855 and for several years subsequently he was associated with the legal department of the Chicago and Northwestern railway, of which he was one of the projectors. He was the pioneer in the building of the Chicago and Milwaukee railroad, and was identified with it in the capacities of attorney, director, and president. Later he was solicitor of the Michigan Southern, Fort Wayne, Rock Island, and Northwestern roads, and he retired when the business reached such proportions that it was impossible for one man to attend to it. In 1870 he was appointed by President Grant a judge of the United States district court for the northern district of Illinois, which office he still holds.
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