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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COWAN, Edgar, senator, born in Sewickley, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 19 September, 1815; died in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 29 August, 1885. He was early thrown on his own resources, becoming by turns 'clerk, boat-builder, school-teacher, and medical student, but finally entered Franklin College, Ohio, where he was graduated in 1839. He then studied law in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the bar in 1842. In 1861 he was elected to the United States senate by the people's party, and served till 1867, distinguishing himself as a ready and fearless debater. He was chairman of the committees on patents, finance, and agriculture, and a member of that on the judiciary. He was a delegate to the Union convention at Philadelphia in 1866, and in January, 1867. was appointed minister to Austria, but was not confirmed by the senate. At the close of his term he resumed the practice of law in Greensburg. Senator Cowan was a man of large proportions and great physical strength, being six feet four inches in height. He published various speeches and addresses in pamphlet form.-
-His son, Frank, author, born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 11 December, 1844, was educated at Mount Pleasant and Jefferson Colleges, but never graduated. He became secretary of the senate committee on patents in 1862, read law with his father during the vacations of congress, and was admitted to the bar in 1865. President Johnson made him one of his secretaries in 1866, and in 1867 he began the study of medicine, receiving his degree from Georgetown medical College in 1869. He then practiced medicine in Greensburg till 1872, when he established a journal called "Frank Cowan's Paper," which continued till 1875. He was district attorney of his county in 1878, and in 1880-'81 made a tour of the globe, entering Corea before the making of any of the treaties between that country and civilized nations, and sent to the United States government much information about its exports and imports, also making a valuable ethnological collection. He resumed the practice of law in 1882, and in 1884-'5 made a second tour of the world. Dr. Cowan is a member of several scientific societies. He has lectured in various parts of the world on his travels, and has published "Curious Facts in the History of Insects" (Philadelphia, 1865); " Zomara ; a Romance of Spain" (Pittsburgh, 1873);" Southwestern Pennsylvania in Song and Story" (Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 1881); "The City of the Royal Palm, and other Poems" (Rio de Janerio, 1884); besides pamphlets and magazine articles, including "The Hvidsaerk Inscription of the Falls of the Potomac" (1866), a hoax, which, although immediately explained by its author, has found its way into European books of reference. Dr. Cowan has also published musical compositions.
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