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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McMAHON, John Van Lear, lawyer, born in Maryland in 1800; died in Cumberland, Maryland, 15 June, 1871. He was graduated at Princeton in 1817, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1821. He served in the state legislature, and, possessing rare personal advantages, soon gained reputation as a political speaker, as well as a high place in his profession. He adapted the old turnpike laws of Maryland to the new condition of affairs caused by the incorporation of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and was for some years its counsel. He is said to have contributed more than any other to the prosperity of the Jackson party in Maryland, but subsequently deserted it on the United States bank question. He took a conspicuous part in the canvass of 1840, and presided at a great ratification meeting, where Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and William C. Preston made speeches. The failure of his eyesight compelled him to relinquish his profession about 1855, and much of his later life was spent in Ohio. St. John's college, Annapolis, gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1869. He published " An Historical View of Maryland," which is a standard authority on the early history of the province (Baltimore, 1831).
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