George W. McCrary
|George Washington McCrary|
|33rd United States Secretary of War|
March 12, 1877 – December 10, 1879
|President||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|Preceded by||James D. Cameron|
|Succeeded by||Alexander Ramsey|
August 29, 1835|
Evansville, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||June 23, 1890
Saint Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Helen Amanda McCrary|
|Profession||Lawyer, Judge, Politician|
George Washington McCrary (August 29, 1835 – June 23, 1890) was a four-term Republican Congressman from Iowa's 1st congressional district, a United States Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Rutherford B. Hayes, and a federal circuit judge.
McCrary was born near Evansville, Indiana in 1835. Two years later, he moved with his parents to Wisconsin Territory,1 to what is now Van Buren County, Iowa.2 He attended the public schools (then, at age eighteen, taught in a country school).2 He studied law in Keokuk, Iowa at the law firm of future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel F. Miller,2 then was admitted to the bar in 1856, and, at the age of twenty, commenced practice in Keokuk.
In 1868 he was elected as a Republican to the first of four consecutive terms representing Iowa's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House. In his first month in Congress he received national attention for refusing to support an appropriation for a federal courthouse in Keokuk because the nation was in debt and he could not support such a courthouse in every district.3 In the House, he chaired the Committee on Elections (in the Forty-second Congress), and the Committee on Railways and Canals (in the Forty-third Congress). He published A Treatise on the American Law of Elections, in 1875.24 In the Forty-fourth Congress, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he was the author of a farsighted (but unsuccessful) bill to reorganize the federal courts to enable reasonable and prompt judicial review.5 He helped create the Electoral Commission to resolve the outcome of the 1876 Presidential Election, and served on the committee that investigated the Credit Mobilier scandal.2
He served as the Secretary of War under President Hayes from March 12, 1877 to December 1879, when he resigned to accept his next appointment.6 As Secretary, he withdrew federal troops from the remaining reconstruction governments in South Carolina and Louisiana, and used federal troops in the 1877 railway strike and in Mexican border disturbances.2 But the greatest military conflicts during his watch occurred in the American West, in battles with certain Native American tribes in Colorado, New Mexico, and elsewhere.7
He was elected as a 3rd Class (honorary) member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). This was probably due to President Hayes' influence as a prominent member of MOLLUS. (Hayes would later serve as MOLLUS commander-in-chief.)
On December 1, 1879, President Hayes nominated McCrary to become a judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Eighth Circuit (which preceded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit).6 Referencing his family's financial need after his many years of public service, he left the court in 1884 to become general counsel for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.28
- "Obituary of George McCrary," New York Times, 1890-06-24 at p. 3.
- "George Washington McCrary". Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 70-12. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
- "Needless Appropriations: Letter from George W. McCrary," New York Times, 1869-04-19 at p. 8.
- George W. McCrary, "A Treatise on the American law of Elections," (Keokuk: R.B. Ogden 2nd ed. 1880).
- Felix Frankfurter & John M. Landis,"The Business of the Supreme Court," pp. 78-79 (1st ed. 1927, reprinted Transaction Pub. 2007), ISBN 1-4128-0612-7.
- "Nominations by the President,' New York Times, 1879-12-02 at p. 3.
- "War Department Needs: Secretary M'Crary's Annual Report," New York Times, 1879-11-24 at p. 2.
- "Judge M'Crary Resigns," New York Times, 1884-01-02 at p. 1.
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|United States House of Representatives|
James F. Wilson
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st congressional district
March 4, 1869 – March 3, 1877
Joseph C. Stone
James D. Cameron
|U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: Rutherford B. Hayes
March 12, 1877 – December 10, 1879