Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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REAGAN, John Henninger, senator, born in Sevier county, Tennessee, 8 October, 1818. From an early age he was engaged in various occupations, which included ploughing, chopping wood, keeping books, running a flat-boat on Tennessee river, and managing a mill, and through his diligent labor earned sufficient money to procure a good education. Before he was twenty years old he went to Natchez, and in 1839 removed to Texas. He soon enlisted in the force to expel the Cherokees was selected by General Albert Sidney Johnston as one of a picked escort for dangerous service, but declined the offer of a lieutenancy, and became a surveyor. He penetrated into the Indian country about the Three Forks of Trinity, and was engaged in surveying that region about three years. His was the first party that escaped massacre by the Indians. In 1844 "he began the study of law, and in 1848 he received his license to practise. In 1846 he was elected colonel of militia and probate judge of Henderson county, and in 1847 he was chosen to the legislature, where he was chairman of the committee on public lands. In 1849 he was a defeated candidate for the state senate, but in 1852 he was elected district judge. In the enforcement of tile laws he was brought into personal collision with the gamblers and desperadoes that then held the frontier towns in awe, but his physical courage and moral force won him a triumph for law and order. Judge Reagan was first elected to congress in 1856 as a Democrat, after a severe contest, tie remained in congress until 1861, when he returned home, and was elected to the state convention, in which he voted for secession. He was chosen by the convention to the provisional Confederate congress. On 6 March, 1861, he was appointed postmaster-general under the provisional government, and the next year he was reappointed to the same office under the permanent government. He was also acting secretary of the treasury for a short time near the close of the war. He was the only one of the cabinet that was captured with Jefferson Davis, and was confined for many months in Fort Warren. He had conferences with President Johnson, William H. Seward, Henry Wilson, James Speed, and others on reconstruction, and wrote an open letter to the people of Texas, advocating laws for the protection of negroes, which should grant them civil rights and limited political rights with an educational qualification. His letter subjected him to misconstruction, and he was retired from polities for nine years. But he was elected to congress by 4,000 majority in 1874, in 1.876 by 8,000, and after 1878 with little or no opposition. For nearly ten years he held continuously the post of chairman of the committee on commerce, with the exception of one term, and has been noted for his decided views and efforts to regulate inter-state commerce. He was one of the authors of the Cullom-Reagan interstate commerce bill, which became a law in 1887. in 1887 he took his seat in the United States senate, having been chosen for the term that ends in 1893.
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