Brought to Shawneetown, Illinois, as an infant, John A. McClernand made a name in law, politics, and government, serving Southern Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1843 to 1851 and the Springfield area from 1859 to 1861. McClernand formed a relationship with political opponent Abraham Lincoln; their wives, Sarah and Mary, also became friends. Republican President Lincoln appointed Democrat McClernand to important commands during the Civil War, where he served with Ulysses S. Grant. Conflict with fellow officers helped to end his military career. McClernand returned to live in Springfield where he served as circuit court judge for three years.