Leonard J. Farwell : biography
Leonard James Farwell (January 5, 1819 – April 10, 1889) was an American politician and the second Governor of Wisconsin.
Farwell was born in Watertown, New York, and moved to Wisconsin in 1840, prior to its statehood. He first settled in Milwaukee and moved to Madison in 1847, 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 July 12, 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. This made Wisconsin the first state to abolish the gallows.
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.
In 1860, Farwell served in the Wisconsin State Assembly.’Wisconsin Blue Book 1860,’ pg. 9
From 1863 to 1870, 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 on April 10, 1889.