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Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 7) online

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3 1833 01145 2627

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania




Librarian Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Author of "Colonial Families

of Philadelphia," "Revolutionary History of Bethlehem,"

and Various other works.








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Diplomat, President.

James Buchanan, fifteenth President of
the United States, was born at Cove Gap,
near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, April
23, 1791, second son of James and Eliza-
beth (Speer) Buchanan. His father, a
native of County Donegal, Ireland, came
to America in 1783, was a clerk in Phila-
delphia, and in 1788 set up in business on
his own account. His mother was the
only daughter of James Speer who immi-
grated to Pennsylvania in 1756.

James Buchanan attended the schools
of Mercersburg, and in 1807 entered Dick-
inson College in the junior class. After
graduating in 1809 he removed to Lan-
caster, and was admitted to the bar in
1812. He was one of the first volunteers
in the War of 1812, and marched to the
defence of Baltimore. He was elected a
member of the House of Representatives
in the Pennsylvania Legislature, October
14, 1814, retiring at the end of his second
term of service with a fixed determina-
tion to abandon political life and devote
himself exclusively to the practice of law.
However, in 1820 he was elected by the
Federalists a representative to the Seven-
teenth Congress from Lancaster, York
and Dauphin counties. In the following
Congress he spoke twice on the tariff —
March 23 and April 9, 1824. His views
on protection were conservative. He
uttered grave warnings against forming
alliances with Mexico and the South
American republics, and insisted on the
great importance of Cuba, to the United
States, both commercially and strategic-
ally. During the canvass of 1828, in


which the supporters of the administration
had taken the name of National Republi-
cans, and the opposition that of Demo-
crats, Mr. Buchanan was one of the most
able and ardent supporters of General
Jackson, and it was mainly through his
influence that the twenty-eight electoral
votes of Pennsylvania were secured for
him. In 1829 he succeeded Daniel Web-
ster as head of the judiciary committee of
the Plouse of Representatives, and in this
capacity conducted the impeachment trial
of Judge Peck. In March, 1831, he re-
tired from Congress, with the avowed in-
tention of resuming his law practice, but
in 1832 President Jackson appointed him
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Pleni-
potentiary to St. Petersburg, and urged
his acceptance of the mission so strongly
that he could not well decline. He sailed
from New York on April 8, 1832, on
board the "Silas Richards," and reached
St. Petersburg the June following. His
mission was to negotiate the first treaty
of commerce between Russia and the
United States, to establish a tariff system,
and to provide for consuls. He perfected
himself in the French language, which
proved of invaluable assistance to him in
conducting the negotiations. He was
eventually successful in arranging a com-
mercial treaty by which important privi-
leges in the Baltic and the Black seas
were secured for the United States. He
began his journey homeward, August 8,


On December 6, 1834, Mr. Buchanan
was elected United States Senator by the
Democratic members of the Pennsylvania
Legislature, to fill the unexpired term of
Senator Wilkins, resigned, and he took


his seat in the Senate on December 15,
1834. General Jackson was then in the
second term of his office and Mr. Van
Buren presided over the Senate. The op-
position had become consolidated for that
and classified under the name of the
Whig party, as substituted for that of
National Republicans ; there was a third
party known as the Anti-Masonic party;
and the Whigs controlled the Senate by
a two-thirds majority. During the latter
part of General Jackson's administration
the subject of slavery began to be agi-
tated, and numerous petitions were made
to Congress for its suppression in the
District of Columbia, among them one
from the Quakers of Pennsylvania, which
was presented by Mr. Buchanan. In 1836,
when Michigan sought admission to the
Union, Mr. Buchanan spoke in favor of
admitting the territory as a State, and his
entire career showed him to be preemi-
nently a State rights man. He supported
President Jackson in his financial meas-
ures, advocated the recognition by Con-
gress of the independence of Texas, and
at a later time its annexation. Mr. Bu-
chanan supported the principal measures
of the administration of President Van
Buren, including the establishment of an
independent treasury. He was reelected
to the Senate in January, 1837, for a full
term, being the first United States Sena-
tor reelected by the Legislature of Penn-
sylvania. President Van Buren invited
him to serve as Attorney-General, but he
declined. In 1842 he opposed the ratifica-
tion of the treaty between the United
States and England. In 1843 ^he Legis-
lature of Pennsylvania reelected him Sen-
ator for a third term, and in 1844 his poli-
tical and personal friends were anxious to
propose him as Democratic candidate for
the presidency, but he withdrew his name
in a public letter, and James K. Polk was
nominated and elected, and Mr. Buchan-
an accepted the position of Secretary of

State in his cabinet. Here he had some
critical questions to adjust, including the
settlement of the boundary line between
Oregon and the British possessions, and
the annexation of Texas, from which
arose the war with Mexico. When the
Whigs came into power in 1849, Mr. Bu-
chanan retired for a time from politics,
but in 1853, when the Democratic party
regained its ascendancy. President Pierce
offered him the position of Minister to
England, which he accepted. Mr. Bu-
chanan was the originator and one of the
three members of the famous Ostend
Conference that met in 1854 to consider
the subject of the acquisition of Cuba by
the LTnited States, and with his colleagues
maintained that on the principle of self-
preservation from dangers of the gravest
kind, armed intervention of the United
States and the capture of the island from
the Spaniards would be justifiable. He
returned to the United States in April,
1S56, and upon his arrival in New York
was accorded a public reception.

Mr. Buchanan was nominated as the
Democratic candidate for President by
the Democratic Convention held at Cin-
cinnati in 1856, and at the election re-
ceived one hundred and thirty-nine elec-
toral votes, which made him President of
the United States. He was inaugurated
March 4, 1857. The state of the country,
when his administration was organized,
was ominous to its peace and welfare.
The preceding administration had left a
legacy of trouble in the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise ; the Kansas-Ne-
braska act was a bone of contention be-
tween the two factions of the Democratic
party; and the bill for an army increase
was lost. However, there were compen-
sations. The question of British domin-
ion in Central America was settled dur-
ing his administration under his advice
and approval ; he succeded in compelling
the English government to recognize the



international law in favor of the freedom
of the seas ; recommended to Congress
sending aid to the constitutional party of
Mexico; instructed the United States
Minister to Mexico to make a treaty of
"transit and commerce," and provide for
a "convention to enforce treaty stipula-
tions and to maintain order and security
in the territory of the republics of Mexico
and the United States." In 1858 Mr. Bu-
chanan concluded a treaty with China
which established satisfactory commer-
cial relations between the two countries.
On June 22, i860, he vetoed a bill "to
secure homesteads to actual settlers in
the public domain, and for other pur-
poses." In the same year he was author-
ized by Congress to settle the claims
against the government of Paraguay by
sending a commissioner to that country,
accompanied by a naval force sufficient
to exact justice should negotiations fail.

In i860 President Buchanan refused to
receive the commisioners sent by the
State of South Carolina to treat with him
on the subject of secession, emphatically
denying the right of any State to secede
from the Union, and holding that the
only remedy for a dissatisfied State was
open revolution. He was warned against
leaving the forts in the South without
additional garrison forces but, as he had
publicly denied the right of secession, he
could not consistently reinforce the forts
as if he anticipated revolution. He ad-
hered to his policy of non-action, for
which he has been greatly censured.
After the actual secession of South Caro-
lina, the President's chief aim was to con-
fine the area of secession, and induce
Congress to prepare for war. When his
term of office expired, March 3, 1861,
seven States had already seceded, and his
successor. President Lincoln, found him-
self sadly embarrassed by the apathy of
Congress in not preparing for the con-
flict, which could no longer be averted.


Mr. Buchanan remained in Washington
until March 9, settling private affairs, and
then returned to Wheatland, outside of
the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
where he had previously acquired a small
estate. He contiaiued to take a deep in-
terest in politics, and with his influence
as a private citizen supported the war
that was now raging for the maintenance
of the Union. His declining years were
saddened by the many calumnies with
which he was assailed, but he bore all
with a dignified fortitude, and was willing
to leave the vindication of his course to
a future day when perception would not
be dimmed by sectional feeling. He pub-
lished "Buchanan's Administration," a
vindication of the policy of his adminis-
tion during the last months of his term.
He died June i, 1868, and his remains
were laid at rest in Woodward Hill
Cemetery, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
A simple monument marks his grave, in-
scribed : "James Buchanan, Fifteenth
President of the United States, born April
23, 1791 ; died June i, 1868.

The death of his sister, Mrs. Lane, in
1839, left to him the care and education
of four children, of the youngest of them,
Harriet, he was especially fond ; she was
his guest for one year during his term as
Minister to England, accompanying him
upon his return voyage to this country,
and when he became President she be-
came the mistress of the White House,
and proved herself admirably qualified to
make the administration a social success.


Soldier of Two Wars.

General Robert Patterson was born in
Cappagh, County Tyrone, Ireland, Janu-
ary 12, 1792. His father immigrated to
the United States to escape punishment
for complicity in the Irish rebellion, and
settled in Delaware covmty, Pennsylvania.


Robert Patterson attended the public
.schools, and was employed in a Philadel-
phia counting house. Upon the outbreak
of the War of 1812 he was commissioned
first lieutenant of infantry, and toward
the end of the war served on General
Joseph Bloomfield's staff. He returned
to Philadelphia, was married to Sarah
Ann Engle, and engaged in mercantile
pursuits and in establishing cotton mills.
He was a member of the convention that
met at Harrisburg on March 4, 1824, and
was Commissioner of Internal Improve-
ments in Pennsylvania, 1827. In 1836 he
was the Democratic elector for the First
Congressional District of Pennsylvania,
and in 1837 was president of the Electoral
College that declared Martin Van Buren
the president elect. He was commission-
ed major-general of volunteers in 1847,
and served throughout the war with
Mexico. He commanded a division at
the battle of Cerro Gordo, April 17-18,
1847, l^d the advance brigades in the pur-
suit, and entered and captured Jalapa.
He was honorably mentioned in General
Winfield Scott's reports.

At the beginning of the war for the
Union was major-general of the Pennsyl-
vania militia, and on April 15, 1861, vol-
unteered for three months' service, was
mustered in as major-general of volun-
teers, and was given command of the
military department composed of the
states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mary-
land and the District of Columbia. He
crossed into Virginia, June 15, 1861, at
Williamsport, and was instructed to
watch the troops under General Joseph
E. Johnston at Winchester, Virginia.
When McDowell was preparing to en-
gage the enemy at Bull Run, July 21,
1861, Patterson, not receiving promised
orders from General Winfield Scott, fail-
ed to detain Johnston by giving him
battle, and Johnston marched to the as-
sistance of Beauregard, Patterson taking

no part in the battle of Bull Run. He
was honorably mustered out of service on
the expiration of his commission, July 27,
1861, and resumed the charge of his im-
portant cotton manufactures. He was a
member of the original board of trustees
nominated in the charter of Lafayette
College ; was senior member of the board,
1826-35; again a trustee, 1874-81, and
president of the board of trustees, 1876-81.
He was the author of: "Narrative of the
Campaign in the Shenandoah" (1865).
He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
August 7, 1881.


Jcrist, Professional Antlior.

George Sharswood was born in Phila-
delphia, Pennsylvania, July 7, 1810, son
of George and Flester (Dunn) Sharswood,
grandson of Captain James and Elizabeth
(Brebin) Sharswood, and great-great-
grandson of George Sharswood, who sail-
ed from England for America in the early
part of the seventeenth century and set-
tled in New Haven, Connecticut, where
he died May i, 1674. Captain Sharswood
was an officer in the Revolutionary army,
and became a prominent merchant and
citizen of public affairs in Philadelphia,
being a representative in the State Legis-
lature ; director of the Farmers' and Me-
chanics' Bank, 1807-25; and member of
the committee on the yellow fever epi-
demic of 1793. George Sharswood, Sr.,
died in 1810, before the birth of his son,
who was brought up and educated by his

George Sharswood was graduated with
honors from the University of Pennsyl-
vania, A.B., in 1828, A.M., 1831 ; studied
law with Joseph Rawle Ingersoll, and
was admitted to the bar, September 5,
1831. He was a representative in the
State Legislature, 1837-38 and 1842-43;
Judge of the District Court of Philadel-



phia, 1845-48; Presiding Judge of the
District Court, 1848-67; Justice of the Su-
preme Court of Pennsylvania, 1867-78,
and Chief Justice, 1878-82. He was Pro-
fessor of Law at the University of Penn-
sylvania, 1850-52; Professor of the Insti-
tutes of Law, 1852-68; a trustee, 1872-83;
president of the Law Academy of Phila-
delphia, 1836-38, its vice-president, 1838-
55, and provost, 1855-83. His "Legal
Ethics" is required to be read by all ap-
plicants for admission to the bar of North
Carolina. He was a trustee of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, 1872-83; was
president of the Alumni Society ; presi-
dent of the Pennsylvania Institution for
the Deaf and Dumb, 1863-84 ; a member
of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
and the American Philosophical Society
in 185 1. The honorary degree of LL.D.
was conferred on him by Columbia Col-
lege in 1856. He edited "Adams on
Equity," "Roscoe on Criminal Evidence"
(1835); "Russell on Crimes" (1836);
"Byles on Bills" (1856) ; "Starkie on Evi-
dence" (i860). He is the author of:
"Legal Ethics" (1854) ; "Popular Lec-
tures on Common Law" (1856) ; "Lec-
tures on Commercial Law" (1856), and
"Sharswood's Blackstone's Commenta-
ries" (1859).

He was married to Mary, daughter of
Dr. William Chesney Chambers, of Phil-
adelphia, Pennsylvania. He died in Phil-
adelphia, May 28, 1883.

GEARY, John White,

Soldier of Twro Wars. Governor.

John White Geary was born in Mount
Pleasant, Westmoreland county, Penn-
sylvania, December 30, 1819, son of Rich-
ard and Margaret (White) Geary. His
father was principal of the academy
where he was prepared for college. He
matriculated at Jefiferson College, Can-
onsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1835, but was

not graduated, leaving to provide for his
widowed mother by teaching school. In
the meantime he studied law and civil
enginering, and was admitted to the bar.
He assisted in the survey of the Green
River railroad and on public works for
Kentucky, and thus earned sufficient
money to discharge the debts left by his
father. In 1846 he joined the volunteer
army in the Mexican War, having recruit-
ed the "American Highlanders," and as
lieutenant-colonel of the Second Pennsyl-
vania Regiment joined General Scott at
Vera Cruz and commanded the regiment
at Chapultepec, where he was wounded,
and again later in the same day at Belen
Gate, where he won the approbation of
the commanding general, and upon the
fall of the Mexican capital he was made
the first commander of the conquered city
and was promoted to colonel of the regi-
ment. At the close of the war with
Mexico he went to California, and in 1849
was made postmaster of San Francisco
by President Polk, with general super-
vision of the transportation of mails and
establishing of post-offices and postal
routes on the Pacific coast. The people
elected him alcalde, and on the organiza-
tion of a municipal government for the
city of San Francisco he was elected the
first mayor. He was a delegate to^ the
State Constitutional Convention and was
an important factor in securing to the
new State the exclusion of slavery. He
returned to his farm in Westmoreland
county, Pennsylvania, and remained out
of public life until July, 1856, when Presi-
dent Pierce made him Governor of the
Territory of Kansas. He effected peace
between the rival factions striving to or-
ganize a State government, and with the
aid of United States troops convened the
courts and restored confidence. This po-
litical movement secured the election of
Buchanan to the presidency, but when
Governor Geary undertook the task ot



securing a Free-State constitution for
Kansas the Democratic party failed to
support him, and he resigned and left
Kansas on March 4, 1857, and was suc-
ceeded by Robert J. Walker, under ap-
pointment of President Buchanan.

In April, 1861, at the outbreak of the
war for the Union, Geary raised a regi-
ment of fifteen hundred men and report-
ed for duty to General Banks at Harper's
Ferry, Virginia. He was wounded at
Bolivar Heights ; captured Leesburg,
Virginia, March 8, 1862 ; was made brig-
adier-general, April 25 ; and was twice
wounded at the battle of Cedar Mountain,
August 9. On recovering, he was placed
in command of the Second Division,
Twelfth Army Corps, and led the division
at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He
joined the Army of the Cumberland, was
at the battles of Wauhatchie and Lookout
Mountain, and was assigned by General
Sherman to the command of the Second
Division of the Twentieth Corps in the
"March to the Sea." He was made mili-
tary governor of Savannah on reaching
the seacoast, December 22, 1864, the
honor being accorded him for his conduct
at Fort Jackson and in the capture of
Savannah, he being the first general
officer to enter the city. He was bre-
vetted major-general of volunteers early
in 1865, on being mustered out of the
service. He was elected Governor of
Pennsylvania in 1866, his opponent being
Hiester Clymer, Democrat, and he was
reelected in 1869. His administration was
eminently successful, and on his death,
eighteen days after the expiration of his
second term of service, the General As-
sembly of Pennsylvania began measures
which led to the erection of a monument
over his grave at Harrisburg.

Governor Geary married (first) Mar-
garet Ann Logan, of Westmoreland
county, Pennsylvania, who died in 1853.
Their son, Edward Ratchford, a student

at Jefferson College, enlisted in the Fed-
eral army in 1861, and was killed at Look-
out Mountain, October 28, 1863, after
fighting at Cedar Mountain, Antietam,
Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Govern-
or Geary married (second) in 1858, Mrs.
Mary C. Henderson, of Cumberland
county, Pennsylvania. He died at Ham-
burg, Pennsylvania, February 8, 1873.

SCOTT, Thomas Alexander,

Accomplislied Railroad Manager.

Thomas Alexander Scott was born in
London, Franklin county, Pennsylvania,
December 28, 1824, son of Thomas Scott,
the keeper of "Tom Scott's Tavern" on
the old Limestone turnpike from Phila-
delphia to Pittsburgh.

He attended the country schools in
winter, worked on the farm in summer,
and served as clerk in stores in Waynes-
boro, Bridgeport, and Mercersburg. He
was clerk to the toll collector at Columbia
on the State road, 1841-47; chief clerk to
the collector of tolls in Philadelphia ; and
in 1851 entered the employ of the Penn-
sylvania Railroad Company. He served
as general superintendent of the Moun-
tain District, with headquarters at Dun-
cansville, 1852-57 ; general agent of the
Pittsburgh office. 1853-55 ; general super-
intendent of the entire line, as successor
to General Lombaert, 1855-59; and vice-
president, 1859-61. He was appointed on
the staff of Governor Andrew G. Curtin,
and in 1861, with the aid of United States
troops, opened the new line of railway
from Washington to Philadelphia. He
was commissioned colonel of volunteers.
May 3, 1861, and was put in control of all
government railways and telegraphs. He
was Assistant Secretary of War under
Secretary Cameron, 1861, and under Sec-
retary Stanton until May, 1862. In that
capacity he utilized the transportation of
the northwest and of the western rivers



for the benefit of the United States army.
On September 24, 1863, he accepted a
government commission to repair the rail-
roads and superintend the transportation
of the Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps
from the east through Nashville to Gen-
eral Rosecrans at Chattanooga, a most re-
markable achievement ; and he served as
assistant quartermaster general on the
staff of General Hooker. He was chosen
president of the Western Division of
the Pennsylvania railroad in 1864, and in
1871 became president of the Pennsylva-
nia Company, the agency through which
the Pennsylvania railroad obtained leases
of connecting roads to the west and of
the "Pan-handle Route." He was also
president of the Union Pacific railroad,
1871-72, and of the Pennsylvania railroad,
1874-80, resigning in 1880, on account of
failing health. He was the founder and
first president of the Texas Pacific rail-
road. He died in Darby, Pennsylvania,
May 21, 1881.

HARTRANFT, John Frederick,

Civil War Soldier, Governor.

General John Frederick Hartranft was
born in New Hanover, Pennsylvania, De-
cember 16, 1830, son of Samuel E. and
Lydia (Bucher) Hartranft. He was a
student at Marshall College, 1847-49, and
was graduated at Union College, A.B., in
1853, A.M., in 1856. Fie was admitted to
the bar in 1859 and practiced in Norris-
town, Pennsylvania.

In April, 1861, he recruited and was
elected colonel of the Fourth Pennsylva-
nia Volunteer Regiment, enlisted for
three months' service, which expired the
day before the battle of Bull Run, July
21, 1861. As his regiment had been
ordered to Harrisburg, he obtained leave
to serve on the staff of General William
B. Franklin in that battle, and was mus-
tered out with his regiment, July 27, 1861.

He recruited the Fifty-first Pennsylvania
Volunteer Regiment for the war, and was
commissioned its colonel, November 16,
1861. He was in the Burnside expedition
to North Carolina in 1862, led the attack
on Roanoke Island, February 7, and in
the battle of New Berne, March 14. With
the Army of the Potomac he engaged in
the second battle of Bull Run, and the
battle of Chantilly; in the Ninth Corps,
he took part in the battle of South Moun-
tain, and at Antietam he led the charge at
the stone bridge. He commanded his
regiment at Fredericksburg, then went
with the Ninth Corps to Kentucky and
was engaged in the battles of Campbell's
Station and the defence of Knoxville. His
part at Vicksburg, where he commanded

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