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William I. Ferguson

Know Nothing

Date Party Office Votes Result
09-05-1855 Know Nothing SD-09 3437 Win
11-04-1856 Democratic SD-09 0 Win
09-02-1857 Democratic SD-09 0 Win

Candidate Biography:

Born: May 9, 1825 in Monongahela City, Pennsylvania
Killed: September 14, 1858 in San Francisco, CA

1840s: City Attorney, Springfield [Illinois] (Several terms)
1848: [Democratic] Candidate for Presidential Elector [Illinois] (Lost)
1850: [Democratic] Candidate for the Illinois State Legislature (Lost)
1856: Changed party affiliation from Know Nothing to Democratic.

  • DUEL: In 1858, Ferguson fought a duel with George Pen Johnston on Angel Island following a "convivial altercation" at a saloon in San Francisco on August 19th. The duel, with pistols, lasted four rounds, until Ferguson's thigh bone was broken. His doctors advised him that his only chance for survival was a quick amputation of the damaged leg. He refused to allow the surgery for more than a week (saying that he would not trade his leg "for all California"), by which time it was too late, and he died a few weeks later.  [Source:
  • Following his death in 1858, Ferguson was returned to Sacramento, where his body lay in state in the Senate Chambers of the State Capitol. The only other people to have that honor have been B. T. Collins in 1993, and Robert T. Matsui in 2005.

Source: History of Political Conventions in California, 1849-1892 by Winfield J. Davis (1893)

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