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William Carr Lane

Born: 12-1-1789 - Died: 1-6-1863

Born near Brownsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1789, the son of Presley, a well-to-do farmer, and Sara (Stephenson) Lane. Of English ancestry, Lane had seven brothers and three sisters. An Episcopalian and later a Baptist, he married Mary Ewing of Vincennes, Indiana on February 26, 1818, by whom he was the father of six children, including Victor Carr and Anne.

Lane spent two years at Jefferson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; he also attended Dickenson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and studied medicine under a Dr. Collins in Louisville in 1811. After fighting in the War of 1812, he served as an Army physician until November 1819, except for a period in 1815-1816 when he studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. After leaving the Army, Lane began the private practice of medicine in St. Louis. An Aide-de-Camp to Missouri Governor Alexander McNair, he was appointed in February 1822 as Quartermaster General of that state, serving until April 1823. Lane was elected in that month as the first Mayor of St. Louis, a post in which he would serve for nine terms. He was also elected in 1826 and 1830 to the Missouri House of Representatives as a Jackson Democrat, although he would switch his allegiance in the early 1830s to the new Whig Party. In 1832 he served as a surgeon for troops during the Black Hawk War. He was Professor of Obstetrics and the Diseases of Women and Children at Kemper College in St. Louis from 1841 to 1844.

Lane was appointed Governor of New Mexico in 1852 by President Millard Fillmore, and inaugurated on September 13. Lane accepted the post in large part because of a desire to leave an unhappy home life in St. Louis and escape the enduring grief over the death of his son Victor six years earlier. As governor, he had problems with both the United States military commander, Colonel Edwin V. Sumner, and the Indians. Lane challenged Sumner to a duel when the officer refused to use 500 volunteers against the Navajo tribe. Sumner, who had also had bad relations with Lane's predecessor, declined to duel. The governor's most serious problem with the Indians developed when the United States Senate refused to approve a treaty that Lane had signed with the Apache. Feeling betrayed, the Apache opened hostilities.

The most significant event of Lane's administration was his seizure in March 1853 of the disputed Mesilla Valley. Lane had no authority to take this and which was envisioned as a route for a transcontinental railroad, and he was not supported by President Franklin Pierce. Lane's action might have led to war with Mexico, but a conflict was avoided when James Gadsden purchased the disputed area and some additional land. Lane resigned in the summer of 1853 when he began his unsuccessful campaign to become Congressional Delegate from New Mexico.

The former governor eventually returned to St. Louis. His ardent support for the Confederacy made him unpopular in that city during the Civil War. Lane died on January 6, 1863 in St. Louis, where he was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.