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Andrew Gregg Curtin

In office
January 15, 1861 – January 15, 1867
Preceded by William F. Packer
Succeeded by John W. Geary

In office
4 March 1881 – 3 March 1887
Preceded by Seth H. Yocum
Succeeded by John Patton

In office
President Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by Cassius M. Clay
Succeeded by James L. Orr

Born April 22, 1817(1817-04-22)
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died October 7, 1894 (aged 77)
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Whig, Republican, Democratic,
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Religion Presbyterian

Andrew Gregg Curtin (April 22, 1817 – October 7, 1894) was a U.S. lawyer and politician. He served as the 15th Governor of Pennsylvania during the American Civil War.



Curtin was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. His parents were Roland Curtin, Sr., a wealthly Irish born iron manufacturer, and Jane (Gregg) Curtin, the daughter of US Senator Andrew Gregg.[1] He attended Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law and was employed as a lawyer. His first public office was as Secretary of the Commonwealth. In 1855, Governor James Pollock appointed him as Superintendent of Public Schools. He switched political allegiance from the Whigs to the new Republican political party in 1860, with his successful run for governor. He served in that office from 1861 until 1867.

During the Civil War, Curtin organized the Pennsylvania reserves into combat units, and oversaw the construction of the first Union military camp for training militia. It opened as Camp Curtin on April 18, 1861. In the years that followed, Curtin became a close friend and confidant of Abraham Lincoln, visiting the White House several times in order to converse about the status of the war effort.

Curtin was very active during the Gettysburg Campaign, working with Major General Darius N. Couch and Major Granville O. Haller to delay Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and prevent it from crossing the Susquehanna River. Major General George G. Meade, a Pennsylvania officer whom Curtin had recommended for brigadier general and command of one of the Pennsylvania reserve brigades in 1861, defeated Lee in the Battle of Gettysburg.

After the Battle of Gettysburg, Governor Curtin was the principal force behind the establishment of the National Cemetery there. Through his agent, David Wills, Curtin procured the attendance of President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the cemetery. Governor Curtin was sitting with Lincoln on the platform on November 19, 1863 when Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.

In his first term, Governor Curtin suffered a severe breakdown from the stresses of war. Secretary of State Eli Slifer handled governmental affairs during the increasingly frequent periods when Curtin was incapacitated. President Lincoln offered the governor a diplomatic position abroad, but he chose to run for reelection in 1863.

To coordinate Union war efforts, Curtin convened the Loyal War Governors' Conference on September 24 and September 25, 1862, in Altoona. This event was one of his most significant contributions to the Union war effort. He formed the Pennsylvania State Agency in Washington, and another branch in Nashville, Tennessee, to provide support for wounded soldiers on the battlefield and returned home. He also founded the state-funded Orphan's School to aid and educate children of military men who had died for the Union cause.

Soon after ending his second term, Curtin switched to the Democratic political party, and was appointed Minister to Russia by President Ulysses S. Grant. He later served as a Democratic Congressman from 1881 until 1887 in the United States House of Representatives. He died at his birthplace of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and is buried there in Union Cemetery. Four identical statues of Andrew Gregg Curtin—one in Bellefonte, one on the Pennsylvania State Monument at Gettysburg, one in the rotunda of the State Capitol Building, and one at the site of Camp Curtin—honor his service and life.

Curtin's family was prominent in Pennsylvania politics and in the Civil War. He was the grandson of Andrew Gregg, also a prominent Pennsylvania politician. He was the uncle of John I. Gregg and cousin of David McMurtrie Gregg, both Union generals in the Civil War. He also was a cousin of Col John I. Curtin.

Namesake and honors

In World War II the United States liberty ship SS Andrew G. Curtin was named in his honor. The University Park campus of Penn State University has both a residence hall and a campus road named for Curtin.



External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William Fisher Packer
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
John White Geary
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Cassius M. Clay
United States Ambassador to Russia
Succeeded by
James L. Orr
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Seth H. Yocum
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Patton

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ANDREW GREGG CURTIN (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.

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