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Leonard J. Farwell

Leonard James Farwell (January 5, 1819 – April 11, 1889) was an American politician and the second Governor of Wisconsin.

Farwell was born in Watertown, New York, and moved to Wisconsin in the 1840s, prior to its statehood. He first settled in Milwaukee and later in Madison, where he owned a great amount of property, and made considerable improvements to the city.

He was elected governor of Wisconsin as a member of the Whig Party and served as governor from 1852 to 1854. On 12 July 1853, in one of his more notable actions as governor, he signed a law that abolished the death penalty in Wisconsin and replaced it with a penalty of life imprisonment.

In 1857 he ran for alderman in Madison but lost by a close margin. Also that year, Farwell lost his land holdings due to the effects of the Panic of 1857.

During the 1860s, Farwell worked in Washington, D.C. as principal examiner in the U.S. Patent Office. He was present at Ford's Theatre the day President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and was the first person to inform then-Vice President Andrew Johnson of the assassination.

After seven years in Washington, Farwell moved to Chicago and started a patent agency, but he fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He then relocated to Grant City, Missouri where he died.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Nelson Dewey
Governor of Wisconsin
1852– 1854
Succeeded by
William A. Barstow


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