Obituary of Dr. Revel Wharton English 1810-1894
Transcribed from a news item contributed by Edythe Riley Bargmann,
a descendant of Lindsey H. English, 11th child of Elisha & Sarah Wharton English
He died in Kansas City, Kansas, and is buried in Carrollton, Greene Co., Illinois. The source, not noted, appears to be from a newspaper in the Carrollton area, and includes a drawing of Dr. English. Bargmann noted "Died 1893" on the item but other sources indicate Dr. English died February 18, 1894
DR. R. W. ENGLISH DEAD.
A Former Distinguished Carrollton
Man Dies in Kansas City.
Last Sunday's Kansas City papers gave extended sketches of Dr. Revel Wharton English, whose death occurred in that city on Saturday. Dr. English lived in Carrollton from 1829 to 1853. During his residence here he served three terms as representative of Greene county in the state legislature, and became an intimate friend of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.
Dr. English died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. James M. Nave, in Kansas City, and the funeral was held there Sunday afternoon. The body was temporarily placed in a vault at Union cemetery, and, later on, will be brought to Carrollton for burial. Deceased was 83 years of age.
The Kansas City Journal gives the following sketch of Dr. English's life:
"Revel Wharton English was born in Bedford, Ky., Oct. 13, 1810. He was of Scotch descent, and his family was originally from Delaware. His immediate ancestors were Kentuckians. In 1829, when he was 19 years of age, he removed to Carrollton, Ill.
"He served three terms as representative of Greene county in the state legislature, which sat first at Vandalia but afterwards at Springfield, which became the capital of Illinois. His terms of service in the legislature were during the early and middle 30s. He became at that time a close friend of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, and was the roommate of the former at Springfield, both then being members of the legislature. He became a friend not only of these two men, so famous in early Illinois politics and afterward nationally, but also of Gen. Jas. Shields, Lyman Trumbull, Gen. Edward D. Baker, afterwards killed at the battle of Ball's Bluff, James H.Dougall and others.
"Dr. English also enlisted in a company and served against Black Hawk and the Sacs and Foxes in 1831-32. Dr. English had studied medicine and read law, but he did not practice either profession. When Stephen A. Douglas was serving in the United States senate Dr. English was chairman of the Democratic state committee. He resided in Carrollton until 1853, when he removed to Alton, having been appointed postmaster at that place by President Franklin Pearce. He acted in that capacity for eight years, serving during all of Pierce's and Buchanan's administrations. He was vice-president of the Democratic national convention which in May, 1848, nominated Lewis Cass for president. Dr. English was a warm personal friend of James K. Polk, Lewis Cass, Franklin Pearce, James Buchanan, and all those who stood high in the Democratic party.
"He was a particularly warm friend of Senator Douglas and supported him for the senatorship and the presidency. On the outbreak of the war, however, he sided staunchly with the Union, it having been his belief, as an adherent of Douglas, that the nation should be preserved at all hazzards. He remained in Alton from 1853 to 1874, when he came to Kansas City. He took no active part in business or politics here, but lived a retired life. His residence was first in what was the outskirts of the city, Linwood avenue. Afterward he lived in turn on East Independence avenue and on Broadway. In 1883 his wife died and he went to the house of his daughter, Mrs. Nave, with whom he lived until the time of his death. He married Miss Annie Smith of Philadelphia in 1843. She bore him three children, of whom but one is living.
"Dr. English was a life-long Democrat and cast but a single vote for a Republican nominee -- Major William Warner for congress. He was an uncle of Wm. H. English of Indiana, who was the Democratic nominee for vice president when Gen. W. S. Hancock ran against J. A. Garfield.
"Dr. English was so well acquainted with both Shields and Lincoln that he figured in the proposed duel between the two. It has become a matter of history. During the early days in Illinois Lincoln and Shields were political antagonists. An entirely non-political letter which Lincoln wrote was the direct cause of the trouble. Shields challenged Lincoln to fight and the latter selected broad swords as the weapons. The duel was to come off on an island in the Mississippi opposite Alton. Dr. English and Col. Hardin were the two gentlemen who interposed between the principals and secured explanations from either side which averted bloodshed."
The Kansas City Times gives the following reminiscence of the Lincoln-Shields duel which was averted by Dr. English's intervention:
"Shortly before Lincoln was chosen president, Dr. English was instrumental in preventing a duel between him and Gen. Shields. The trouble started because of a newspaper criticism of Lincoln which he wrongfully ascribed to Shields. He sent a peremptory challenge to Shields to fight a duel which was accepted. Seconds were chosen and all arrangements made for the affair, which was to take place on an island in the Mississippi opposite Alton. Dr. English on hearing of the matter sent for his friend, Col. Hardin of Jacksonville, Ill. They found that the affair was all owing to a misunderstanding between Lincoln and Shields who had previously been fast friends. A statement was prepared which was signed by both Lincoln and Shields, stating their positions, and it was seen there was no occasion for a duel. The friendship between the men was resumed, but had it not been for Dr. English the world night never have known what presidential timber there was in Lincoln or what a soldier and statesman was General Shields."
Note: The reference to Scotch descent may apply to the Wharton/Scroggin ancestry (his mother's family).
My database includes over 1,200 descendant related entries for the family of Elisha & Sarah Wharton English; the first five generations are at The English Plantation. Information in my database may differ from details in the above transcription.
GKBopp 15 May 2002
Descendant of Dr. John B. English,
12th child of Elisha & Sarah Wharton English.