Richard Yates - a firey radical of his day

A radical Republican, Richard Yates reached the zenith of his power and popularity during the dark years of the Civil War.

Born in Kentucky, Yates was 17 when he made Jacksonville his home and was a member of the first Illinois College graduating class in 1835. Yates became a lawyer and railroad promoter.

Though not handsome, his amiable manner made him popular among his fellow citizens. His skills as an orator and his radical views were the assets he needed to gain both fame and power.

Following two terms in Congress, Yates had his sights set on higher office and bided his time raising money for the construction of the Tonica & Petersburg Railroad. Opportunity knocked in 1860, when he was nominated as the compromise candidate by the fledgling Republican Party. With Abraham Lincoln heading the ticket, the popular Yates handily defeated Democrat James C. Allen, who went on to become a leader of the Democrat Party’s peace faction. &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>