Pennsylvania Senator William Bigler, circa 1860.
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Black and white image of a man in a formal suit, standing, posing for this photograph.

Credit: Library of Congress

Born in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, William Bigler (1814 -1880) lost his father by the age of thirteen and had little formal education, but went on to become the governor of Pennsylvania from 1852 to 1855 and a United States senator from 1856 to 1861. Although opposed to slavery, like fellow Democrat James Buchanan, Bigler insisted that the Constitution required that he enforce federal law. After the Civil War, he served as an elder statesman in the Pennsylvania Democratic party until soon before his death in 1880.

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