Master in chancery, White County, 1880-1882. County judge, 1883-1887. Elected 51st Congress, 1889, for unexpired term (1889-1891), of R. W. Townshend, deceased.
Reëlected 52d, 53d Congresses (1891-1895), and 56th to 58th Congresses (1899-1905). Chairman Illinois delegation Democratic National Convention, 1900. Democratic nominee for United States senator from Illinois, 1903.
Received votes of delegates from several states for nomination for vice president of the United States in Democratic National Convention, 1904.