Doctor Bissell’s most unusual case of perjury

Abraham Lincoln knew about it. The Democrats ignored it. The people of Illinois didn’t care. Indeed, a most unusual case of perjury.

William Henry Bissell, M.D., came to Illinois in 1837. Forsaking his medical degree, the 27-year-old Bissell soon was elected to the legislature. Bissell then earned a law degree, embarking on a new career as an attorney in Belleville.

With outbreak of the Mexican War, Bissell was elected colonel of an Illinois regiment. He saw action at the Battle of Buena Vista. Bissell was brilliant. Under his unflinching command, the regiment braved withering enemy fire, helping turn back a fierce Mexican assault.

Back in Illinois, word of Bissell’s feat made him a hero. When he returned home, he was elected to the Congress. Bissell likely would have soon faded away had it not been for his intense dislike of Southern congressmen, whom he described as “insolent” and “bullying.” The pot boiled over in 1850 when Virginia Congressman James Seddon delivered a speech that credited Colonel Jefferson Davis and his Mississippi volunteers with achieving victory at Buena Vista. &nbsp;&nbsp;<ahref=""><spanstyl... 13px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">To view more, please log in or subscribe to the digital edition.</span></a></p>