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Simon Cameron

U.S. Senator. Ambassador to Russia. Lincolnís Secretary of War

An historian said of Simon Cameron, ďNo politician of his generation understood the science of politics better than he; none enjoyed great power.Ē Simon Cameron was born March 8, 1799, in Maytown, Pennsylvania. His great-grandparents were Scottish emigrants to Pennsylvania. His father was a tailor. Cameron was apprenticed to a printer and became acquainted with Samuel D. Ingram, then secretary of state for Pennsylvania. Ingram invited Simon to work on his sickly newspaper at Doylestown. He revived the newspaper and soon became a power in local politics. He moved ahead rapidly and was soon owner of another newspaper, had interests in a bank, and became president of two railroads. When Sen. James Buchanan became President, Cameron was elected to fill out his term of office as U.S. senator. Unhappy with Democratic party politics, Cameron joined the new Republican party of Abraham Lincoln. Cameron had hopes of becoming President himself but settled for secretary of war in the Lincoln cabinet. Cameron was an early advocate of full mobilization when the Civil War seemed inevitable. When the cabinet didnít support him, he resigned and was appointed minister to Russia in 1862. He stayed only long enough to enlist Russian sympathies for the Northern cause. He ran for the U.S. Senate and was elected in 1873 for the fourth time. He resigned to make way for his sonís election to the post. Cameronís political power in Pennsylvania was nearly absolute. He had a genial and pleasing personality which he used to pyramid his power. He was not without his critics. He retired to his estate near his birthplace of Maytown where he died June 26, 1889.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546