Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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RAMSEY, Alexander, secretary of war, born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 8 September, 1815. He was educated at Lafayette college, and in 1828 became clerk in the register's office of his native county. He was secretary of the Electoral college of Pennsylvania in 1840, the next year was clerk of the state house of representatives, was elected to congress as a Whig in 1842, and served till 1847. He was chairman of the state central committee of Pennsylvania in 1848, and was appointed first territorial governor of Minnesota in 1849, holding office till 1853. During this service he negotiated a treaty at Mendota for the extinction of the title of the Sioux half-breeds to the lands on Lake Pepin, and two with the Sioux nation by which the United States government acquired all the lands in Minnesota west of Mississippi river, thus opening that state to colonization. He also made treaties with the Chippewa Indians on Red river in 1851 and 1853. He became mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1855, was governor of the state in 1860-'3, and in the latter year was elected to the United States senate as a Republican, holding his seat in 1863-'75, and serving as chairman of the committees on Revolutionary claims and pensions, on post-roads and on territories. He became secretary of war in 1879, succeeding George W. McCrary, and held office till the close of Hayes's administration. He was appointed by President Arthur, in 1882, a member of the Utah commission, under the act of congress known as the Edmunds bill (see EDMUNDS, GEORGE F.), continuing in that service till 1886. In 1887 he was a delegate to the centennial celebration of the adopt, ion of the constitution of the United States.
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