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William Henry Herndon Edit Profile

lawyer , biographer

William Henry Herndon, American lawyer, biographer.


Herndon, William Henry was born on December 25, 1818 in Greensburg, Kentucky, United States. Son of Archer G. and Rebecca (Day) Johnson Herndon.


Attended Illinois College.


An anti-slavery advocate, purported to have influenced Abraham Lincoln in his anti-slavery views. Junior law partner of Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, 1844. Mayor of Springfield 1 term, also state bank examiner.

Chiefly known as biographer of Lincoln. Sold his researches (due to financial necessity) to persons engaged in preparing Lamon Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1870. Later published (with Jesse W. Weik) Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, 3 vols., 1889.

Book criticized for his statements regarding birth of Lincoln’s mother and other details. His biography also responsible for exaggeration of Anne Rutledge influence on Lincoln’s life. Gave Lincoln more human quality than earlier biographers had done.


Married Mary Maxey, March 26, 1840. Married second, Anna Miles, July 31, 1861.

Archer G. Herndon

Rebecca (Day) Johnson Herndon

Mary Maxey

Anna Miles