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John Gould Stephenson

Headstone of John Gould Stephenson in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington DC

John Gould Stephenson (March 1, 1828 – November 11, 1883)[1] was an American physician and soldier. He was the fifth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1861 to 1864.


John Gould Stephenson

Stephenson was born in Lancaster, New Hampshire. After training at the New Hampshire Medical Institution and the Castleton Medical College, he moved to Terre Haute, Indiana. Active in Republican Party politics, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him to the post of Librarian of Congress, replacing John Silva Meehan. The historical record is unclear why a physician sought appointment to this post.

Stephenson spent most of his time serving as a Colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War, first with the 19th Indiana Regiment and later with the Army of the Potomac, participating in the Battles of Fitzhugh Crossing, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

His most significant act was appointing Ainsworth Rand Spofford as Chief Assistant Librarian. Spofford would later become Librarian himself and was responsible for the transition of the Library from Congressional resource to national institution.

Following his resignation in 1864, Stephenson held several political jobs, including medical reviewer at the Pension Office.


  • John Y. Cole (March 30, 2006). "Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress -- Librarians of Congress". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
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