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William B. Allison

William Boyd Allison (March 2, 1829 - August 4, 1908) was an American lawyer and politician. Born in Ashland, Ohio, Allison had an excellent grade school education (somewhat rare in those times). Afterward, he spent a year at Allegheny College (PA), then graduated from Western Reserve College in 1849. He then studied law and began practicing in 1852. He did so in his hometown of Ashland until 1857. In that year he moved to Dubuque, Iowa (his place of death), where he took a prominent part in Republican politics, and in 1860 he was a delegate to the national convention in Chicago, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for president.

During the Civil War he was on the staff of Iowa Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood, who ordered him to help the state raise regiments for the war (he personally helped raise four regiments). He also served as a lieutenant colonel during the war, although it was unlikely he actually served in uniform.

He was elected to the United States House of Representatives as the representative of the Iowa Third District in 1862, in the midst of the American Civil War. As a congressman he pushed for higher tariffs. He continued to serve in the house until 1871, when he declined to be a candidate for renomination.

In 1873 he was elected to represent the state of Iowa in the United States Senate and was reelected in 1878, 1884, 1890, 1896, and 1902. At the time of his death he still held his Senate seat, having been in the Senate for 31 consecutive years. In 1881-1893 and again from 1895, he was chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he had great influence. He was also a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs, and the Committee on Engrossed Bills, and was a cosponsor of the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, which passed over the veto of President Rutherford B. Hayes. It remained unchanged until the Sherman Act of 1890.

He was twice asked to serve as the Secretary of the Treasury, first by President James Garfield, then by President Benjamin Harrison, and his name was floated up for the position of President of the United States.

Allison was married twice. The first marriage was to Anna Carter, who died in 1859, four years after the marriage. His second marriage was to Mary Neally, who died in 1883, ten years after their marriage. Although Allison was a rich man, he did not spend much time thinking about money-making; rather, he was very focused on public and political affairs. He is currently interred in Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque, Iowa.

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