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Curtin, Andrew Gregg

CURTIN, ANDREW GREGG (1817-1894), American political leader, was born at Bellefonte, Centre county, Pennsylvania, on the 22nd of April 1817, the son of a native of Ireland who was a pioneer iron manufacturer in Pennsylvania. He graduated from the law department of Dickinson College in 1837, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and successfully practised his profession. Entering politics as a Whig, he was chairman of the Whig state central committee in 1854, and from 1855 to 1858 was secretary of the commonwealth. In this capacity he was also ex officio the superintendent of common schools, and rendered valuable services to his state in perfecting and expanding the free public school system, and in establishing state normal schools. Upon the organization of the Republican party he became one of its leaders in Pennsylvania, and in October 1860 was chosen governor of the state on its ticket, defeating Henry D. Foster, the candidate upon whom the Douglas and Breckinridge Democrats and the Constitutional Unionists had united, by 32,000 votes, after a spirited campaign which was watched with intense interest by the entire country as an index of the result of the ensuing presidential election. During the Civil War he was one of the closest and most constant advisers of President Lincoln, and one of the most efficient, most energetic and most patriotic of the " war governors " of the North. Pennsylvania troops were the first to reach Washington after the president's call, and from first to last the state, under Governor Curtin's guidance, furnished 387,284 officers and men to the Northern armies. One of his wisest and most praiseworthy acts was the organization of the famous " Pennsylvania Reserves," by means of which the state was always able to fill at once its required quota after each successive call. In raising funds and equipping and supplying troops the governor showed great energy and resourcefulness, and his plans and organizations for caring for the needy widows and children of Pennsylvania soldiers killed in battle, and for aiding and removing to their homes the sick and wounded were widely copied throughout the North. He was re-elected governor in 1863 and served until January 1867. He was United States minister to Russia from 1869 until 1872, when he returned to America and took part in the Liberal Republican revolt against President U. S. Grant. In 1872-1873 he was a member of the state constitutional convention. Subsequently he joined the Democratic party and was a representative in Congress from 1881 to 1887. He died at his birthplace, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on the 7th of October 1894.

See William H. Egle's Life and Times of Andrew Gregg Curtin (Philadelphia, 1896), which contains chapters written by A. K. McClure, Jno. Russell Young, Wayne McVeagh, Fitz John Porter and others.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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