CILLEY, Jonathan

CILLEY, Jonathan
Image courtesy of Library of Congress
1802–1838

Biography

CILLEY, Jonathan, (nephew of Bradbury Cilley and brother of Joseph Cilley), a Representative from Maine; born in Nottingham, Rockingham County, N.H., July 2, 1802; attended Atkinson Academy, New Hampshire; was graduated from New Hampton Academy and later, in 1825, from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1828 and commenced practice in Thomaston, Knox County, Maine; editor of the Thomaston Register 1829-1831; member of the State house of representatives 1831-1836 and served as speaker in 1835 and 1836; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress and served from March 4, 1837, until February 24, 1838, when he was killed in a duel on the Marlboro Pike, near Washington, D.C., by William J. Graves, a Representative from Kentucky; interment in Cilley Cemetery, Thomaston, Maine.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Thomaston Historical Society

Thomaston, ME
Papers: In the Jonathan Cilley Family Papers, 1820-1869, 5.25 linear feet. Family correspondence; legal documents (1825-1838); newspaper accounts of events (1838-1839); several handwritten books of poetry written by Jonathan Cilley's wife, Deborah (Prince) Cilley; letters of condolence, including resolutions against dueling made by various town governments in Maine and New Hampshire (1838); printed booklet about the investigation into the circumstances of Cilley's death published by the U.S. House of Representatives; books dealing with the interests of Cilley family members; and other papers. Includes letters written by John Ruggles, U.S. senator, also of Thomaston; Civil War letters of son, Jonathan Prince Cilley, lawyer, U.S. Army officer, and later a U.S. senator, written to sister, Julia Cilley, describing troop movements, the nature of battle wounds suffered, and an incident when poorly clothed men in an infantry unit froze to death in the Virginia mountains; correspondence between female family members, chiefly concerning family news and local events; correspondence between Deborah Cilley and her eldest son, Greenleaf, attending private school in Standish, Me., after the death of his father; letter written by Jonathan to his wife the night before the duel, as well as letters from Deborah to her husband before hearing of his death; and letter from the owner of the boarding house in Washington where Cilley resided, who tried to dissuade him from participating in the duel.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Anderson, Eve. A Breach of Privilege: Cilley Family Letters, 1820-1867. Spruce Head, ME: Seven Coin Press, 2002.

Foltz, Jonathan Messersmith. Testimony of Dr. J. M. Foltz (of the United States Navy,) before the committee appointed to investigate the causes which led to the death of the Hon. Jonathan Cilley. [Washington: N.p., 1838].

Funeral oration delivered at the Capitol in Washington over the body of Hon. Jonathan Cilley. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1838.

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