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Hon. George W. McCrary


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 13:28:30

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Hon. George W. McCrary, deceased. The citizens of Iowa feel a special interest in him whose name heads this sketch and the people of Van Buren County are justly proud of his brilliant record, as he was known personally to many of them, having been reared in their midst. He was a son of James McCrary, one of the esteemed citizens of the county. He was born in Indiana on the 9th day of August 1835, but when only a year old was brought by his parents to Iowa and amid the wild scenes of pioneer life in Van Buren County spent the days of his boyhood and youth. From his childhood he manifested a great desire for learning, making every effort to obtain an education and like the majority of our greatest and best countrymen he was a self-made man. The proud position to which he attained he won by his own efforts and ability and greater honor is due him from the fact. After attending the public schools and mastering the common branches he attended an academy and on the completion of his school life entered the law office of Samuel F. Miller, late a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. After a thorough course of reading Mr. McCrary was admitted to the bar in 1856, and the following year his official career began. Although then but twenty-two years of age he was elected to the Iowa Legislature for the term of two years and served acceptably as a member of the Loser House. It will readily be seen that he won the confidence and respect of his constituents for in 1861 he was the choice of his district for the office of State Senator, a position, which he filled four years. Fitted by nature to become a leader, he rose from a place of comparative obscurity to a position of prominence in the General Assembly of Iowa and having gained a statewide reputation he was placed before the people of the nation as a representative in the legislative halls of this great commonwealth.
In 1868 George W. McCrary was elected to the Forty-first Congress, being one of the youngest members of that body and for three consecutive terms he held the office. In the Forty-first Congress he was placed on the committees on naval affairs, revision of the laws and elections, and distinguished himself as one of the best-informed lawyers in Congress on the subject of election laws. In the Forty-second Congress he was made Chairman of the Committee on Elections and his management was characterized by great fairness while his reports were generally adopted without revision. In the Forty-third Congress he was made Chairman of the Committee on Railways and Canals—to which questions of transportation are referred—prepared a report on the constitutional power of Congress to regulate commerce by rail among the States, which was considered exhaustive and conclusive; and reported a bill on the subject which he advocated with remarkable power and which after a memorable debate passed the House. As a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Forty-fourth Congress, he was the author of the bill providing for the re-organization of the judiciary of the United States, which passed the House by a large majority. He also proposed the plan for having a joint committee to count the electoral vote, took an active part in preparing the electoral bill and in arguing the question before the House. At the close of his Congressional career, which expired March 4, 1877, Mr. McCrary accepted the position of Secretary of War proffered him by President Hayes and was an influential member of the Cabinet. Of him the remark was frequently made that “when the Secretary of War speaks, all listen attentively.” In 1879 he was nominated by the President, for the position of Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit of the United States courts, which appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, the office continuing for life. Undoubtedly Judge McCrary was endowed by nature with superior gifts yet he deserves the greatest credit for the position to which he attained. Reared in obscurity among the wilds of the Territory of Iowa, with little advantages for advancement, he yet overcame the difficulties and disadvantages which lay in his path, working his way upward step by step to a position of fame, becoming one of the honored statesmen of the Nation. His colleagues respected him, other men honored him and his friends revere his memory. His death occurred at St Joseph Missouri on June 23, 1890, and his remains were interred at Keokuk Iowa.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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