Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Is anything in this article factually incorrect? Please submit a comment.

Printer-friendly page
Average: 5 (1 vote)

McLean, John

by Roy Parker, Jr., 1991

4 Feb. 1791–14 Oct. 1830

Portrait of John McLean, from the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. John McLean, lawyer, congressman, and U.S. senator from Illinois, was born near Guilford Courthouse (now Greensboro) and four years later moved with his parents to Logan County, Ky. In 1815 he moved across the Ohio River to the Shawneetown district of the Illinois Territory, where he established a law practice.

McLean was a member of a group of young men, largely from the South, who were influential in organizing Illinois as a state. A Democrat, he was elected as the first congressman from Illinois in 1818, the year of statehood. For the next twelve years he served either as a congressman (two other terms—in 1820 and 1822); as a member of the state house of representatives (1820, 1826, and 1828), where he was speaker; or in the U.S. Senate, to which he was named in March 1825 to fill a vacancy for a few months and then elected in 1828. He died two years later and was buried in Westwood Cemetery near Shawneetown.


Biog. Dir. Am. Cong. (1950).

Robert Howard, A History of a Prairie State (1972).

Additional Resources:

"Mclean, John, (1791 - 1830)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed July 8, 2014).

Image Credits:

"Mclean, John, (1791 - 1830)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed July 8, 2014).

Origin - location: 


I am doing family research on the McClean family of Robeson Co. NC. Wondering if this guy is related.

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at