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William H. English papers

 Collection — Folder: S427
Identifier: S0427

Scope and Contents

This collection includes copies of autographed, signed documents from Indiana state government, governor Joseph Wright, Elisha G. English, the Democratic Party, Captain E.L. Billings, and William. H. English in Indiana and elsewhere ranging from 1734 to 1870 regarding the Civil War, banking business, legislative business, organizational seals, and political party nominations.


  • 1784-1870, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

William Hayden English was born on August 27, 1822, the only son of Elisha Gale and Mahala (Eastin) English in Lexington, Indiana. He studied at Hanover College for three years before being admitted to the Indiana bar in 1840. English practiced law briefly, then went into politics, beginning as postmaster at Lexington from 1842 to 1845. He was the principal clerk in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1843 and a clerk in the U.S. Treasury Department from 1845 to 1849. English married Emma Mardulia Jackson in 1847, and they had two children, including William Easton English. Emma English died in 1877.

English was elected secretary of the state constitutional convention in 1850 and oversaw the publication of the convention's proceedings. He was later elected to the Indiana House Representatives from Scott County and was selected as speaker during the 1851-1852 session. As a northern Democrat opposed to slavery, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1853 to 1861. English was a member of the House Committee on Territories and worked on the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, thus allowing residents of Western territories to decide on the slavery issue.

English aided Indiana governor, Oliver P. Morton, in disbanding the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society opposed to the policies of Morton and President Lincoln, during the American Civil War. He also served as the provost marshal in Scott County during the war. English co-founded the First National Bank of Indianapolis on May 11, 1863, serving as president until 1877. He and his family moved to Indianapolis in 1865. Enlgish also secured a controlling interest in the Indianapolis Street Railway Company, which he held until 1876. He then built the English Hotel and Opera House, the Opera House opening in 1880. English was appointed to the Monument Commission in 1893 and helped plan and finance the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Circle.

In 1880, English was nominated for Vice-President by the Democratic Party. After his defeat, he retired from politics. He served as president of the Indiana Historical Society from 1886 to 1896 and wrote several nonfiction historical works. English was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He died on February 7, 1896, and his body lay in state in the Indiana State Capitol, before it was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana. English Avenue and the English Foundation Building in Indianapolis and the town of English in Crawford County are named for him.


"English, William Hayden." In A Biographical Directory of the Indiana General Assembly, Vol.1. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1980. "English, William Hayden." Find a Grave Index, 1700s-Current. Accessed July 2, 2014.

Nichols, Stacey. "English, William Hayden." In The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 544-545. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a records transfer from the Indiana Division in 1971.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2014/07/02 by Edythe Huffman. EAD finding aid created 2014/07/02 by Edythe Huffman.
William H. English papers
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.