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George Washington Julian (1817-1899)

George W. Julian

George W. Julian was a prominent reform-minded politician and Congressman. Born in Centerville, Julian was six years old when his father died. He studied under the influence of his mother and became a schoolteacher. He became a lawyer in 1840 after studying on his own and remained in practice until 1861. Before the Civil War he was strongly against slavery and was a Whig until slaveholder Zachary Taylor was nominated by that party in 1848. He became a member of the new Free Soil party and in 1852 was that party’s candidate for vice-president. He was an early member of the Republican party and was elected to Congress in 1860 where he served until 1871. For eight years he was the chairman of the Committee on Public Lands and was heavily involved in the passage of the Homestead Act.

In 1872 he joined the Liberal Republicans because, as an advocate of Civil Service Reform, he could not support the corrupt administration of President Grant. After the Liberal Party died out he became a Democrat and remained so for the rest of his life. His political opponents accused him of “changing sides” whenever he desired, but he maintained that the “sides changed” and that he remained true to his principles.

In 1873 he moved to Irvington, a suburb of Indianapolis. In 1885 President Cleveland appointed him Surveyor General of New Mexico where he served for four years. He retired from public service, but continued to write articles for numerous periodicals until his death in 1899.

For more information see:

Clarke, Grace Giddings Julian. George W. Julian. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission, 1923. [Wayne Co. Collection B J944c]

Julian, George Washington. Political Recollections, 1840 to 1872. Chicago:Jansen, McClurg & Company, 1884. [Wayne Co. Collection 326.973 J93]

Riddleberger, Patrick W.  “The Making of a Political Abolitionist:  George W. Julian and the Free Soilers, 1848.”  Indiana Magazine of History  Vol. 51 (September 1955): 221-236.

Riddleberger, Patrick W. George Washington Julian: Radical Republican. [Indianapolis] Indiana Historical Bureau, 1966. [Wayne Co. Collection B J944r]