Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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McELRATH, Thomas, lawyer, born in Williams-port, Pennsylvania, 1 May, 1807. He became a printer early in life, but subsequently returned to Williamsport and began the study of law. Removing later to New York city, he was engaged as proof-reader and then as head salesman in the Methodist book concern, and in 1825 he formed a partnership with Lemuel Bangs in the publication of school and religious books. On its dissolution he resumed his legal studies, was admitted to the bar, and began the practice of law in New York. In 1838 he was elected to the legislature, was placed on its judiciary committee, and chosen to write a report on petitions praying for the abolition of capital punishment. He had early allied himself with the Whig party, and was an earnest supporter of Henry Clay. In 1840 he was appointed a master in chancery, but in 1841, relinquishing the law, he entered into partnership with Horace Greeley in the conduct of the "New York Tribune" under the firm-name of Greeley and McElrath. It is conceded that the establishment and success of the "Tribune" were assured only after Mr. McElrath joined in its publication. In 1857 he was elected corresponding secretary of the American institute, editing the state annual reports of the institute until 1861, when he resigned. In 1861 he was appointed appraiser-general for the New York district, but he resigned in 1864 to resume the publication of the "Tribune." In 1866 he was appointed chief appraiser of foreign merchandise at the port of New York. He was one of the commissioners to the Paris exposition in 1867, and to the Vienna exhibition of 1873, and, with John Jay, special commissioner to adjust and superintend the American department in the latter exhibition. In 1876 he was secretary of the New York state commission at the Centennial exhibition. He is now (1888) a banker in New York city. He has published " Dictionary of Words and Phrases used in Commerce" (New York, 1872).
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