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Allen R. Bushnell
Allen R. Bushnell.png
From Soldiers and Citizens' Album of Biographical Record (1888)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1893
Preceded by Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Succeeded by Joseph W. Babcock
United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin
In office
April 1886 – April 1890
President Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by H. M. Lewis
Succeeded by Samuel A. Harper
1st Mayor of Lancaster, Wisconsin
In office
April 1878 – April 1879
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by George Clementson
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the Grant 2nd district
In office
January 1, 1872 – January 6, 1873
Preceded by Henry B. Coons
Succeeded by William H. Clise
District Attorney of Grant County, Wisconsin
In office
Summer 1864 – January 2, 1865
Appointed by James T. Lewis
Preceded by Joseph Trotter Mills
Succeeded by George Cochrane Hazelton
In office
January 7, 1861 – August 1861
Preceded by Joseph Trotter Mills
Succeeded by Joseph Trotter Mills
Personal details
Born (1833-07-18)July 18, 1833
Hartford, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 29, 1909(1909-03-29) (aged 75)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place Hillside Cemetery, Lancaster, Wisconsin
Political party Democratic
Republican (before 1876)
  • Laura F. Burr
    (died 1873)
  • Mary P. Sherman
    (m. 1875)
  • with Laura Burr
  • Mabel (Kerr)
  • (b. 1869; died 1936)
  • Curtis Bushnell
  • (b. 1870; died 1870)
  • Fay Chase Bushnell
  • (b. 1872; died 1872)
  • with Mary Sherman
  • Edward Bushnell
  • (b. 1876; died 1877)
  • Floyd H. Bushnell
  • (b. 1883; died 1896)
  • Alfred H. Bushnell
  • (died after 1909)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–1863
Rank Captain, USV
Unit 7th Reg. Wis. Vol. Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Allen Ralph Bushnell (July 18, 1833 – March 29, 1909) was an American attorney, politician, and Democratic member of Congress from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. He also served as a Union Army officer in the American Civil War with the famous Iron Brigade of the Army of the Potomac.

Early life

Born in Hartford, Ohio, Bushnell attended the public schools of Hartford, and attended Oberlin and Hiram colleges in Ohio and studied law. He moved to Grant County, Wisconsin, in 1854 and read law in the office of attorney Stephen O. Paine, in Platteville. He taught school to help with his expenses, and, in December 1857, he was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar at Lancaster, Wisconsin. He established his own legal practice in Platteville, which he maintained for the next four years.

In 1860, he was elected district attorney of Grant County, taking office in January 1861. However, he served only a few months in the position; after the outbreak of the American Civil War, Bushnell resigned his office to volunteer for service with the Union Army.

Civil War service

He responded to President Abraham Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers, and was enrolled as a private in a company of militia known as the Platteville Guards, which afterward became Company C of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. At the time the regiment mustered into service, Bushnell was commissioned as first lieutenant of the company.

Upon arriving in the eastern theater of the war, the 7th Wisconsin Infantry was organized into a brigade under General Rufus King with the 2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, and 19th Indiana regiments. Their brigade soon became famous in the war as the Iron Brigade of the Army of the Potomac. He rose to the rank of captain of Company C, fighting at the Second Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Fredericksburg, and received an honorable discharge in 1863 due to medical disability. After his discharge, he returned to Ohio, where he was under the care of his father for the next year.

Political career

He returned to Wisconsin in 1864 to resume the practice of law, but relocated from Platteville to Lancaster. Shortly after returning to Wisconsin, his successor as Grant County district attorney, Joseph Trotter Mills, resigned after being elected to the Wisconsin circuit court judgeship. Governor James T. Lewis appointed Bushnell to fill out the remainder of Mills' term as district attorney, expiring in January 1865.

He resumed his interest in politics with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and, in 1871, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly for Grant County's 2nd Assembly district, defeating James Wilson Seaton. He served on the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary and the Joint Committee on Charitable and Penal Institutions. After Lancaster was incorporated as a city in 1878, Bushnell was elected as its first mayor.

Despite his history in the Republican party, in 1876 he endorsed and campaigned for Democrat Samuel J. Tilden for President, due to his exasperation over the spending of the post-war years, and his contempt for the Republican political machine. He subsequently became attached to the Democratic Party. When Democrat Grover Cleveland became President in 1885, Bushnell was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, and ultimately served until a successor was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison, in 1890.

Later that year, he was the Democratic nominee for United States House of Representatives in Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district, and unseated Republican Robert M. La Follette in the wave election of 1890. He moved his residence to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1891, before being sworn in to the 52nd United States Congress in March. He became a proponent of silver-backed currency. His most lasting contribution was likely his support for a proposed constitutional amendment for the direct election of U.S. senators—the measure passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate. The concept would take another 20 years to be ratified as the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The 1891 congressional redistricting significantly affected Bushnell, putting him in the same district as fellow incumbent Democrat Charles Barwig. The party chose to renominate Barwig instead of Bushnell in the 1892 election, and Bushnell left office in March 1893.

Later years

He resumed the practice of law in Madison, and worked as counsel and treasurer for the Wisconsin Life Insurance Company. He stood for office one final time, running for Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1906, but was defeated by attorney William H. Timlin in a four-way race.

He contracted pneumonia while attending his sister's funeral in Platteville, and died at his home in Madison on March 29, 1909. He was interred at Hillside Cemetery, in Lancaster.

Personal life and family

Allen Bushnell was the son of Dr. George W. Bushnell and his wife Sarah (née Bates). He was first married to Laura F. Burr and had three children with her before her death in 1873, though only one daughter survived infancy. He subsequently married a cousin of Laura Burr, Mary P. Sherman, in 1875. With Mary Sherman, he had at least three more children, though only one son, Alfred, survived childhood.

Electoral history

Wisconsin Assembly (1871)

Wisconsin Assembly, Grant 2nd District Election, 1871
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 7, 1871
Republican Allen R. Bushnell 630 53.16% +4.61%
Democratic James Wilson Seaton 527 44.47% -6.97%
Independent Henry Bugbee 28 2.36%
Plurality 103 8.69% +5.80%
Total votes 1,185 100.0% +55.92%
Republican gain from Democrat Swing 11.59%

U.S. House of Representatives (1890)

Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District Election, 1890
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 4, 1890
Democratic Allen R. Bushnell 16,432 49.15% +6.88%
Republican Robert M. La Follette (incumbent) 15,430 46.16% -3.79%
Prohibition Marlon Ames 1,567 4.69% -2.27%
Plurality 1,002 3.00% -4.68%
Total votes 33,429 100.0% -12.35%
Democrat gain from Republican Swing 10.68%

Wisconsin Supreme Court (1906)

Wisconsin Supreme Court Election, 1906
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, April 3, 1906
Nonpartisan William H. Timlin 60,528 35.61%
Nonpartisan James O'Neill 51,848 30.51%
Nonpartisan Allen R. Bushnell 39,818 23.43%
Nonpartisan H. H. Grace 16,419 9.66%
Scattering 1,349 0.79%
Plurality 8,680 5.11%
Total votes 169,962 100.0%
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