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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 biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Harris Crawford

CRAWFORD, William Harris, statesman, born in Amherst County, Virginia, 24 February 1772 ; died in Elbert County, Georgia, 15 September 1834. His father, who was in reduced circumstances, removed first to South Carolina and then to Columbia County, Georgia After teaching school at Augusta the boy studied law, began practice at Lexington in 1799, and was one of the compilers of the first digest of the laws of Georgia. He became a member of the state senate in 1802, and in 1807 was chosen U. S. senator to fill a vacancy. The political excitement of the period led him to engage in two duels, in one of which his opponent fell, and in the second of which he was himself wounded. He was re-elected in 1811, acquiesced in the policy of a U. S. bank, and in 1812 was chosen president pro tern. of the senate. He was at first opposed to the war with Great Britain, but eventually gave it his support; and in 1813, having declined the place of secretary of war, accepted that of minister to France, where he formed a personal intimacy with Lafayette.

In I8I0, on the retirement of Mr. Dallas, he was appointed secretary of the treasury. He was prominently urged as a candidate for the presidency, but remained at the head of the treasury department, where he adhered to the views of Mr. Jefferson, and opposed the federal policy in regard to internal improvements, then supported by a considerable section of his own party. This position on the great question of the time subjected him to virulent hostility from opponents of his own party; and Mr. Calhoun, who was one of these opponents, became a dangerous rival for the democratic nomination for the presidency, to succeed Monroe. Crawford, however, as the choice of the Virginia party, and the representative of the views of Jefferson, secured the nomination of a congressional caucus in February 1824; and in the election that followed he received the electoral votes of Virginia and Georgia, with scattering votes from New York, Maryland, and Delaware--in all, 41. No choice having been made by the Electoral College, the election reverted to the House of Representatives, where John Quincy Adams was elected over Jackson and Crawford, through the influence of Henry Clay, the fourth candidate before the people, who brought his friends to the support of Adams. The result was also due, in a measure, to the confirmed ill health of Mr. Crawford, and perhaps to imputations brought against his conduct of the treasury department. These charges he promptly refuted, and a committee that included Daniel Webster and John Randolph unanimously declared them to be unfounded. But his health rendered it impossible for him to continue in public life; and, although he recovered his strength partially, he took no part after this date in politics. Returning to Georgia, he became circuit judge, which office he continued to fill with great efficiency, by successive elections in 1828 and 1831, until nearly the end of his life. He had no connection with the nullification movement, to which he was opposed; and his last days were spent in retirement. Personally he was a man of conspicuous social gifts, an admirable conversationalist, religious in his views and feelings, and a supporter of Baptist convictions. At his home he dispensed a hearty republican hospitality, and his name is eminent among the illustrious citizens of Georgia.

--His son, Nathaniel Macon Crawford, educator, born in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, 22 March 1811; died in Walker County, Virginia, 27 October 1871, was graduated at the University of Georgia in 1829 with the first honor. At the age of twenty-five he was elected to a professorship in Oglethorpe College, at Milledgeville, Georgia He had been a Presbyterian, but changed his views and entered the Baptist ministry. In 1846 he accepted the chair of theology in Mercer University, and ten years later was elected to the presidency, but soon retired to accept the professorship of moral philosophy in the University of Mississippi. In 1857 he became professor of theology in Georgetown, Kentucky, but returned to Georgia again as president of Mercer University, where he remained for seven years. At the close of the war, in 1865, he accepted the presidency of Georgetown College, Kentucky, and continued to fill this office until near the time of his death. He was the author of a volume entitled "Christian Paradoxes."

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