US Congressman, US Senator. A Tennessee native. His father was Rev. James Gwin, a pioneer Methodist minister, who served under the prominent Rev. William McKendree, America's first native-born Methodist bishop, for whom William McKendree Gwin was named. Gwin graduated in medicine from Transylvania University in 1828. In 1831 he briefly served as personal secretary to President Andrew Jackson and in 1833, was appointed by the president as a United States Marshal in Mississippi. In 1841 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Mississippi serving until 1843. Following the discovery of gold in California, Gwin moved west in 1849 where he would take part in the organizing of the future state's government. In 1850 he was elected to serve as the first United States Senator from California, along with John C. Fremont, until 1855. He later served as Senator again from 1857 until 1861. A pro-slavery Southerner, Gwin would support the Confederacy with the outbreak of the Civil War and by the middle years of the conflict, he would be forced to escape to France. In 1864 he approached Napoleon III with a proposal to establish a Confederate colony in Mexico, then under the control of the French puppet government of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian. At the end of the war, Gwin returned to the United States and after being arrested briefly, he retired from public life.
Bio by: G.Photographer