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Vance McCormick (left) with US President Woodrow Wilson, 1916

Vance Criswell McCormick (June 19, 1872–June 16, 1946) was an American politician and prominent businessman from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He served as mayor of Harrisburg from 1902 to 1905 and as United States Democratic National Committee chairman from 1916 to 1919. He was appointed chair of the American delegation at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, under President Woodrow Wilson.

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Biography

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Early life

Vance Criswell McCormick, born in 1872 to parents Henry McCormick and Annie Criswell McCormick, was by far the best-known and most celebrated McCormick, as well as one of the most influential figures in Dauphin County history. The ancestors of the McCormick family were of Scots-Irish lineage. They emigrated to America sometime after the siege of the city of Londonderry, Ireland in 1689.[1] A fortunate boy who grew to be a man of great distinction, Vance attended Harrisburg Academy and Phillips Andover before completing a civil engineering course at Yale University. Vance graduated from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1893, but was given an honorary MA degree by the university in 1907. While at Yale he was a member of St. Anthony Hall. A born athlete and leader, he became captain of the class football and baseball teams his freshman year and was on the university football team his junior and senior years. Vance was named to Walter Camp's All American Team as the first team quarterback. He served as president of Intercollegiate Football Association his senior year and garnered other university honors and awards, as well, including class deacon.[1] Following graduation, he visited the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to help organize their first team.[2]

Business and politics

In 1902 Vance McCormick began his career as journalist and publisher. He was president of The Patriot Company, publishers of several area newspapers including the The Patriot (1902 to 1946), The Evening News (1917 to 1946), and Harrisburg Common Council (1900 to 1902). He was also president of the Pinkey Mining Company, located in Harrisburg.[1]

In 1902, McCormick was elected mayor of Harrisburg and as part of the growing City Beautiful movement he immediately set about to improve the city. Today, he is credited with expanding the city park system (which eventually included 1,100 acres), built steps along the Susquehanna River (which still exist today), paved seventy miles of roads, and improved the city water system. During this time, the population of Harrisburg increased from 51,000 to 73,000.

In 1912 McCormick would serve as the Democratic Party delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania. He would later be a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1914. From 1916 to 1919, he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and went on to become appointed chair of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace (1919) at Versailles, under President Woodrow Wilson, heading up numerous clubs and organizations along the way. He also served as Wilson's campaign manager, as chair of the War Trade Board (1916 to 1919) and as a member of many local, state, national and international organizations throughout the later years.[3]

Later life

Vance McCormick remained a bachelor until the age of 52, when he married Mrs. Marlin E. Olmsted, the widow of an eight-time Republican congressman. They announced their engagement on December 29, 1924.[4] Vance died at his country estate (Cedar Cliff Farms), June 16, 1946, near Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He was buried at Harrisburg Cemetery.[2] Mrs. McCormick later died in 1953.[1]

References

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