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William Addison Phillips

Politician. Republican. Born: January 14, 1824, Paisley, Scotland. Died November 30, 1893, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Served in U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District: March 4, 1873, to March 3, 1879.

William A. Phillips was born in Paisley, Scotland, on January 14, 1824, and immigrated with his parents to the United States in the 1830s. The family settled on a farm in Randolph County, Illinois, where Phillips engaged in agricultural pursuits but soon, as editor for the Chester Herald, launched a career in journalism—a career that would soon bring him to prominence in the hotly contest territory of Kansas. In 1855 Phillips decided to travel to Kansas and report upon the state of affairs in the territory. As a special correspondent to Horace Greeley's New York Tribune newspaper, he penned several articles decrying the evils of slavery and the outrages committed by Missouri border ruffians against the free-state men of Kansas. Phillips' antislavery views were fully set forth in an 1856 publication entitled The Conquest of Kansas by Missouri and her Allies that became a popular Republican campaign document in John C. Frémont's unsuccessful bid for the presidency that autumn. Phillips remained active in the free-state movement, and in the spring of 1858 Phillips-with four associates-founded the town of Salina. Commissioned as a major in the First Indian Home Guards in 1861, Phillips later was promoted to the rank of colonel and commanded the Third Indian Home Guards and for a time the First Indian Brigade. After the war he returned to Kansas where he acted for a time as attorney to the Cherokee Indians, served in the state legislature, and won three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1879). Phillips failed in his bid for a fourth nomination and subsequently retired from political life. He served as president of the Kansas Historical Society in 1889. Phillips died on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1893, at the home of a friend, W.P. Ross, in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, but was returned to Salina for burial in the Gypsum Hill Cemetery.

Entry: Phillips, William Addison

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: May 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.