Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MORRISON, William Rails, congressman, born in Monroe county, Illinois, 14 September, 1825. He was educated at McKendree college, served as a private in the Mexican war, and subsequently studied law and was admitted to the bar. He was clerk of Monroe county in 1852-'6; served in the legislature for the next three years, and was speaker of the house in 1859. He organized the 49th Illinois regiment at the beginning of the civil war, and was wounded at Fort Donelson. While in command of that regiment in the field, he was elected to congress as a Democrat, and served in 1863-'5, but was defeated for the 39th and 40th congresses. He was again chosen in 1872, serving from 1873 till 1887, and in 1873-'5 was chairman of the committee of ways and means. In 1886 he was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election. He was a delegate to the National Union convention in 1866, and to the New York Democratic convention in 1868. In March, 1887, he was appointed by President Cleveland a member of the interstate commerce commission for a term of five years.
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