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John T. Stuart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John T. Stuart
John Todd Stuart.jpg
John T. Stuart as a major during the Black Hawk War
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865
Preceded byPhilip B. Fouke
Succeeded byShelby Moore Cullom
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1843
Preceded byWilliam L. May
Succeeded byOrlando B. Ficklin
Personal details
Born(1807-11-10)November 10, 1807
Lexington, Kentucky
DiedNovember 23, 1885(1885-11-23) (aged 78)
Springfield, Illinois
Political partyDemocratic

John Todd Stuart (November 10, 1807 – November 23, 1885) was a lawyer and a U.S. Representative from Illinois.

Born near Lexington, Kentucky, Stuart graduated from Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, in 1826. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1828, and commenced practice in Springfield, Illinois. He was a major in the Black Hawk War in 1832, where he first met Abraham Lincoln, who was in the same battalion as Stuart.

He served as member of the Illinois House of Representatives between 1832 and 1836. Stuart encouraged Lincoln to study law and the two subsequently became law partners, between 1837 and 1841. If not for Stuart's influence, it is conceivable that Lincoln might never have been interested in the law - and thus, might not ever have become president.[1]

Stuart was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1836 to the Twenty-fifth Congress. He was, however, elected as a Whig to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1839 - March 3, 1843), winning over Stephen A. Douglas in 1838. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1842.

Stuart established a law partnership with Benjamin S. Edwards in 1843, a partnership that would last for forty years. Stuart served as member of the Illinois Senate between 1848 and 1852. He was the unsuccessful Constitutional Union candidate for Governor of Illinois in 1860.

Stuart was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-eighth Congress (March 4, 1863 - March 3, 1865), and served there while Lincoln was president. His vote on the  Thirteenth Amendment is recorded as Nay.

Stuart was a favorite cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln and as a member of Congress after his election in 1862 over Republican Leonard Swett was a frequent visitor at the White House even though he was an anti-emancipation Democrat.

He was defeated in 1864 by Republican Shelby Moore Cullom, a Lincoln ally.

Following his defeat in 1864, Stuart resumed the practice of law in Springfield. He died there and was interred in the Oak Ridge Cemetery.

In the fall of 2007, Centre College (Stuart's alma mater) dedicated Stuart Hall, a building that once housed the College's bookstore but is now a residence hall, in honor of the influence Stuart had over Lincoln's career path as well as Stuart's contribution to law.[2]

The firm that he founded in Springfield Illinois, once known as "Stuart and Lincoln," is still operating under the name "Brown, Hay, & Stephens," and includes his great-great-grandson as a partner.

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  • ✪ John Stuart Mill's big idea: Harsh critics make good thinkers | Keith Whittington
  • ✪ John Stuart Mill - On Liberty


John Stuart Mill was an extraordinary and influential thinker in the early 19th century in England. He was something of a radical within his society at the time and, as a consequence, was very interested in the ability to to develop and communicate radical ideas that were outside the mainstream, because he was interested in a lot of those ideas himself, and he was much more interested in how a free society should operate the ability of people to think for themselves in a free society, and sometimes run against the grain of public opinion and mainstream thought in general. He offered a variety of arguments about why it is we ought to value that kind of speech, those kinds of spaces, that kind of robust debate. So one of those arguments I characterize as an argument driven by humility. That is, that part of what Mill wanted to remind us is that we all might be mistaken, that our own understanding is limited. Our own set of ideas are very limited. And that we can learn from each other. And we can learn from others who have different ideas than ourselves. But that requires some willingness to accept the possibility that we, in fact, might be mistaken. And of course, we walk around most of the time with the belief that we are upholding a set of correct ideas, that we think we know our own minds. We think the ideas we hold are true. That's why we hold them in the first place. And so it can be challenging to go into a conversation and go into a discussion, go into a public space and accept the possibility that we might be wrong. But Mill wanted to emphasize that it's only by accepting that possibility that we're wrong that we can have the opportunity to learn. And it's important for our own sake that we be able to continue to learn and grow by talking to people with different ideas and being genuinely open to the possibility that they might persuade us. They might show the flaws in our ideas. They might expose our mistakes. And as a consequence, they might help us make progress. But he also constructs an argument that's really grounded instead on a concern with arrogance of others. Here, the concern is not so much that we be willing to hear from people that we disagree with because we accept the possibility that we might be wrong. But instead, he wants to speak to our instincts to want to suppress opinions that we find disagreeable or dangerous so that no one else can hear them, instead. And this is fundamentally a paternalistic concern, a concern that we're worried about other people, that they might be misled by bad ideas. And so even if we think that we ourselves are capable of separating good ideas from bad ideas, and so as consequence, we should be able to hear a wide range of views and arguments, we might be much less comfortable that other people can make the same distinctions, will come to good decisions, exercise good judgment when listening to those ideas. And so as a consequence, there's a certain arrogance where we want to impose our own beliefs on others and shield them from the opposition; shield them from listening to the critics so that the only voices they hear are our own. And it's difficult to resist that tendency and that instinct, precisely because when we're thinking about what ideas in society we find as wrongheaded, disturbing, maybe dangerous, it becomes all the more tempting to think, when confronted with that dangerous idea, that we shouldn't expose anyone else to that dangerous idea because they might be polluted by it. They might believe it. And they might even want to act on it. And finally, Mill offers an argument that I characterize as an argument from conviction, which is to say that he says, we have a set of ideas that we walk around with. And we think they're probably right. We assume oftentimes they're right; we haven't thought about them very carefully. And they may be very deeply held ideas. They may be central to our belief system, our value system. More generally, they may be crucial to how we think about the world and how it operates, more generally. But oftentimes, we don't have a lot of reason to think about those ideas very carefully. We haven't explored them or thought about them very carefully ourselves. Instead, we've received them from others. We've taken it for granted they're probably true, and we've moved on. But he emphasizes that we don't really know how true those ideas are. We don't know how confident we ought to be about the truth of those ideas until we've seen them tested in intellectual battle, and until we've seen critics go after them with hard arguments, with counter evidence, with objections, and we've seen how well those ideas can weather that kind of storm. Can our ideas stand up to criticism and skeptical inquiry? And he says we shouldn't be very confident in ideas that we are not willing to expose to those kind of criticisms. That it's precisely the ideas that we've seen weather the criticism that we ought to be confident about. And so as a consequence he encourages us to think that if we want to have real confidence in our beliefs as individuals, but also as a society, that we should be particularly willing to expose our ideas to the harshest critics we can find because those critics will help us, and they will help us be more confident in the strength of our own ideas. And sometimes they will also show us the weaknesses of our ideas and force us, then, to think more carefully about them and force us to build better and more robust supports for those ideas. So we will come away more sophisticated thinkers with more carefully held and carefully considered ideas than we went into those conversations with.


  1. ^ "John Todd Stuart biography". Centre College. Archived from the original on 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
  2. ^ "Centre dedicates Stuart Hall in honor of alum's extraordinary influence on Honest Abe". Centre College. 2007-10-29. Archived from the original on 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2009-07-31.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William L. May
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Orlando B. Ficklin
Preceded by
Philip B. Fouke
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Shelby M. Cullom

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

This page was last edited on 23 September 2019, at 22:52
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