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Andrew Gregg Curtin

CURTIN, Andrew Gregg, governor of Pennsylvania, born in Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania, 22 April 1815. His father, Roland Curtin, emigrated from Ireland in 1798, and in 1807 established near Bellefonte one of the first manufactories of iron in that region. Andrew studied law in Dickinson College law-school, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and soon became prominent. He early entered politics as a Whig, laboring for Harrison's election in 1840, and making a successful canvass of the state for Clay in 1844. He was a presidential elector in 1848, and a candidate for elector on the Whig ticket in 1852. In 1854 Governor Pollock appointed him secretary of the commonwealth and ex-officio superintendent of common schools, and in the discharge of his duties Mr. Curtin did much toward reforming and perfecting the school system of the state, in his annual report of 1855 he recommended to the legislature the establishment of normal schools, and his suggestion was adopted. In 1860 he was the republican candidate for governor. The democrats, though divided in national politics, were united in Pennsylvania, but Mr. Curtin was elected by a majority 32, 000 In his inaugural address he advocated the forcible suppression of secession, and throughout, the contest that followed he was one of the" war governors" who were most earnest in their support of the national government. He responded promptly to the first call for troops, and when General Patterson, who was in command in Pennsylvania, asked for twenty-five thousand more, they were immediately furnished.

General Patterson's requisition was afterward revoked by the secretary of war, on the ground that the troops were not needed; but Governor Curtin, instead of disbanding them, obtained authority from the legislature to equip them at the state's expense, and hold them subject to the call of the national government. This body of men became known as the " Pennsylvania Reserve," and was accepted by the authorities at Washington a few weeks later. Governor Curtin was untiring in his efforts for the comfort of the soldiers, answering carefully the numerous letters sent him from the field, and originated a system of care and instruction for the children of those slain in battle, making them wards of the state. He thus became known in the ranks as "the soldiers' friend." Governor Curtin's health began to fail in 1863, and he signified his intention of accepting a foreign mission that had been offered him as soon as his term should expire, but in the mean time he was re-nominated, and re-elected by 15,000 majority. In November 1865, he went to Cuba for his health, and in that year declined another offer of a foreign mission. In 1869 General Grant appointed him minister to Russia, and in 1868 and 1872 he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for vice-president. He returned home in August 1872, supported Horace Greeley for the presidency, and subsequently joined the Democratic Party, by which he was elected to congress for three successive terms, serving from 1881 till 1887.

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