John Lourie Beveridge was born on July 6, 1824 in Greenwich, New York. In 1842 he moved with his parents to De Kalb, Illinois, and attended the Rock River Seminary in Mount Morris, Illinois.

In 1845 he moved to Tennessee, where he taught school for three years while studying law. He was admitted to the bar and began practice. He moved to Sycamore, Illinois in 1851, and Evanston, Illinois in 1854.

On September 18, 1861 he became captain of Company F of the 8th Illinois Cavalry. He was quickly appointed to major, and commanded the regiment at Gettysburg. He mustered out on November 2, 1863.

On January 28, 1864 he became Colonel of the 17th Illinois Cavalry. He mustered out on February 7, 1866 and was awarded a brevet of brigadier general for his war service.

Beveredge was elected Sheriff of Cook County in 1866 and State Senator in 1871. In 1871 he won a special election to the 42nd United States Congress to fill the seat of John Logan after his resignation. He served until January of 1873 when he was elected Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois. With the resignation of Governor R. J. Oglesby later that year Beveridge became governor, serving until January 1877. He went on to become United States subtreasurer at Chicago from 1877 until 1881.

He moved to Hollywood, California, in 1895, where he was one of the founders of the Hollywood Public Library. He died there on May 3, 1910, and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago.

A live oak tree was planted on the grounds of the library and is named the Beveridge Oak in his memory.