Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Wheeler Dealer

Simon Cameron resigns January 11th 1861 as the United States Secretary of War.

Simon Cameron was born March 8th 1799 in Maytown, Pennsylvania the son of Charles and Martha [Pfoutz] Cameron.  He was an orphan by the time he was nine, and was apprenticed to Andrew Kennedy the editor of the Northumberland Gazette.  Cameron became an editor himself in 1821 when he took over the helm of the Bucks County Messenger, before moving to Washington, DC where he worked for Gales and Seaton Printers.  After moving back to Pennsylvania, Cameron was the state printer from 1825 to 1827, the Pennsylvania state adjutant general in 1826, the founder of several rail lines, a bank, and the state commissioner of claims for the Winnebago Indians.

After being a Whig, Cameron joined the Democratic Party and was voted into the United State Senate in 1844.  He switched to the Republican Party and was nominated for President at the 1860 Republican National Convention.  As part of the wrangling of the Convention, Cameron threw his support behind Abraham Lincoln.  The payoff was that Cameron was named the United States Secretary of War.  While in office he centralized recruiting, but was criticized for awarding contracts and positions through favoritism.  Cameron was notoriously corrupt and was forced to resign January 11th 1862.  When discussing Cameron’s corruption; Thaddeus Stevens told Lincoln that, "I don't think that he would steal a red hot stove".

Cameron finished out the years of the Civil War, as the United States Minister to Russia.  In 1866 he ran and was elected again to the United States Senate from Pennsylvania.  He served until 1877, when the Pennsylvania General Assembly assured him if he resigned, his son James Donald Cameron would be placed in his seat.  Cameron retired to his estate near Maytown, Pennsylvania.  He died June 26th 1889 at his home.  Cameron is buried the Harrisburg Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Another good web site for information  Simon Cameron

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