COVID-19 Updates: For the most up-to-date information on accessing our services learn more here.

Salomon, Gov. Edward (1828-1909) | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Salomon, Gov. Edward (1828-1909)

Wisconsin Civil War Officer, Lawyer, 8th Wisconsin Governor

Salomon, Gov. Edward (1828-1909) | Wisconsin Historical Society
b. Stroebeck, Prussia, August 11, 1828
d. Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, 1909

Gov. Edward Salomon was one of four brothers from Germany who distinguished themselves during the Civil War era (Edward, Frederick, Charles, and Herman). He became the 8th governor of Wisconsin and is best remembered for his tireless efforts to raise new regiments and his handling of the 1862 draft riots in Wisconsin.

EnlargePortrait of Edward Salomon, WHI 34242

Edward Salomon

View the original source document: WHI 34242

Early Years

Edward Salomon was born on 1828 in Prussia and studied at the University of Berlin. His support for democracy during the 1848 German uprisings forced him to flee the country in 1849. He settled in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1852, and began to study law in Milwaukee in 1855. He was admitted to the bar in 1855. As the Civil War approached, he became active in Republican Party politics.

Elected Governor

The Republican Party chose Salomon as its candidate for lieutenant-governor in 1861 thinking he would carry the German vote. He was elected, and when Gov. Louis P. Harvey accidentally drowned in April 1862, he succeeded to the governorship.

Salomon served from April 19, 1862 to January 4, 1864, devoting virtually all his time to causes related to Wisconsin's role in the Civil War. He lobbied strongly for increased funding for military hospitals and worked tirelessly to recruit new troops. During his term 14 new regiments were created.

The Draft and Its Opponents

In the fall of 1862, President Lincoln instituted a draft to replenish Union forces. When anti-draft riots broke out in Ozaukee in November 1862, Salomon had no choice but to call out troops to suppress them and protect the lives of officials implementing the draft. The 28th Wisconsin Infantry was called in and order was restored.

Salomon sympathized with Wisconsin draft resistors, many of whom were his fellow Germans. A number of them had left Europe to escape compulsory military service. He also strongly supported the Union cause and respected his oath of office. He tried to ensure that the draft laws were applied fairly in Wisconsin and that their harmful effects would be mitigated as far as possible.

Later Years

Salomon's actions aroused sufficient antagonism among the Republicans to prevent his being re-nominated by the Republican Party in 1863. In addition to his handling of the draft, the Republicans criticized him for appointing officers based on their military experience rather than on political considerations.

From 1864-1868 he continued to practice law in Milwaukee. In 1869 he moved to New York and opened a new practice focusing on German interests and immigration law. In 1894 he retired and returned with his wife to Germany. He died in 1909 at his home in Frankfurt-am-Main and is the only former Wisconsin governor to be buried on foreign soil.

Links to Learn More

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography (Madison, 1965); Wisconsin State Journal, September 6, 1922; Quiner, E.B. The Military History of Wisconsin (Chicago, 1866)]