Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BISSELL, William H., statesman, born in Hart-wick, near Cooperstown, New York, 25 April 1811; died in Springfield, Illinois, 18 March 1860. He was self-educated, attending school in summer and teaching in the winter ; was graduated at Philadelphia medical College in 1835, and practiced medicine two years in Steuben County, New York, and three years in Monroe County, Illinois He was elected to the Illinois legislature in 1840, and distinguished himself as a forcible and ready debater. He studied law, and practiced successfully in Belleville, St. Clair County, and became prosecuting attorney in 1844. He was a captain in the 2d Illinois volunteers in the Mexican war, and distinguished himself at Buena Vista. He was a representative in congress from Illinois as an independent democrat, serving from 2 December 1839, till 3 March 1845. He separated from the Democratic Party on the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and was chosen governor as a republican in 1856. He was re-elected, and died in office. While he was in congress his resistance of the Missouri compromise involved him in a controversy with the southern democrats, and hot words passed between him and Jefferson Davis on the subject of the bravery of the northern as compared with the southern soldiers, which led to a challenge from Mr. Davis. In accepting the challenge to a duel, Mr. Bissell chose as the weapons muskets, at thirty paces, whereupon the friends of Mr. Davis interfered.
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