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 Richard Montgomery Young

Richard Montgomery Young

Birth
Fayette County, Kentucky, USA
Death 28 Nov 1861 (aged 63)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Plot Range 74, Site 206
Memorial ID 7365417 · View Source
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US Senator, Jurist. Young was born to parents who were among the earliest settlers of Kentucky's Fayette County, and received no formal education until he entered the Forest Hill Academy around 1810. He went on to study law and was admitted to the bar at age 18. Ambitious as well as precocious, he moved to the Illinois Territory (settling in Jonesboro) in 1817 because it offered quicker opportunities for advancement. He supported Illinois' admission to statehood (1818), served in the State House of Representatives (1820 to 1822), and became a Colonel in the State Militia (1821); during that time his law practice encompassed several counties and even extended south to the Missouri Territory. From 1825 to 1837 he was a judge of Illinois' Fifth Circuit Court, resigning the position upon election (as a Democrat) to the US Senate. During his one term Young was Chairman of the Committee on Roads and Canals for two sessions, and was a member of an 1839 mission to England to negotiate a loan for the Illinois State Bank. He was no financier and he agreed to terms that left his home state deeper in debt, infuriating his constituents. In 1842 the Democratic Party persuaded him not to seek reelection to the Senate; in exchange he was appointed Associate Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. His most important decision was for the landmark "Jarrott vs. Jarrott" (1845), in which a slave sued his owner for services rendered. Young set aside his earlier pro-slavery views and favored the plaintiff, setting a precedent that removed the last legal vestiges of slavery in Illinois. Although Young's abilities were best suited to the judiciary, he could not resist the lure of politics and it proved his undoing. In 1847 he resigned from the bench to accept President James K. Polk's appointment as Commissioner of the Treasury Department's General Land Office. He acquitted himself well and might have been reappointed in 1849 by President-Elect Zachary Taylor, but a disparaging editorial he wrote about Taylor for an Illinois newspaper led to his replacement at the end of Polk's term. (The article was allegedly brought to Taylor's attention by Congressman Abraham Lincoln). Having by then settled in Washington DC, Young made a rather sad attempt at salvaging his political career by serving as Clerk of the US House of Representatives (1850 to 1851) before resigning himself to private law practice; he never held another public office. He retired in 1858 after suffering a mental breakdown and for several months in 1860 underwent treatment at Washington's Government Hospital for the Insane. In his last months he was greatly distressed by the outbreak of the Civil War. Burial was at Congressional Cemetery, beneath a curious miniature obelisk rather than the government cenotaph he was entitled to.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Garver Graver
  • Added: 18 Apr 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7365417
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Montgomery Young (20 Feb 1798–28 Nov 1861), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7365417, citing Congressional Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .