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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/George W. McCrary

George W. McCrary - History of Iowa.jpg

GEORGE W. McCRARY was born on the 29th of August, 1835, near Evansville, Indiana. In 1837 the family emigrated to the “Black Hawk Purchase,” locating in Van Buren County where the son grew to manhood on his father's farm. He received a liberal education and when nineteen began to study law with Rankin & Miller. When Miller became Judge of the United States Supreme Court, Mr. McCrary took his place in the law firm. In 1857, at the age of twenty-two, Mr. McCrary was elected a Representative in the House of the Seventh General Assembly, being its youngest member. In 1861 he was elected to the State Senate, serving four years. He was an able and influential legislator and in 1868 was elected Representative in Congress from the First District. He was repeatedly reëlected, serving eight years. As chairman of the committee on elections in the Forty-second Congress he insisted that every case should be decided upon the evidence, independent of partisan considerations. In the Forty-third Congress as chairman of the committee on railroads and canals he prepared an able report on the constitutional power of Congress to regulate commerce among the States which has since been regarded as high authority sustaining that power. At the time of the contest following the Presidential election of 1876, Mr. McCrary originated the famous Electoral Commission which decided that perilous controversy. He made an able argument before that tribunal in support of the legality of the election of Hayes and when the latter became President, George W. McCrary was chosen Secretary of War, entering the Cabinet March 12, 1877. After nearly three years' service in that position, lie was appointed United States Judge of the Eighth Circuit, embracing the States of Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas and Arkansas. Mr. McCrary resigned the war portfolio and entered upon the duties of his new position in January, 1880. He brought to the bench great legal attainments, his opinions were clear, sound and comprehensive and rank as high authority. He here met as an associate his first instructor in law and his life-long friend, Justice Samuel F. Miller. In 1884 Judge McCrary resigned the judgeship and accepted the position of general counsel for the Santa Fe Railroad system, making his home in Kansas City. As a law writer Judge McCrary ranked high; his “American Law of Elections,” is the standard work on that subject. He was a contributor to the North American Review and an able writer on Unitarianism, being a prominent member of that denomination. He died in the meridian of a noble life on the 23d of June, 1890, loved and honored by the best people of the Nation. His body was taken to his old home where it rests among his early friends at Keokuk. He was a noble man, an unsullied statesman and jurist and the highest type of an American citizen.