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John Palmer Usher
Birth: Jan. 18, 1818
Death: Apr. 13, 1889

Civil War Presidential Cabinet Secretary. Born in Brookfield, New York, and the son of an established New England family, he attended local schools; later he became a legal apprentice to Henry Bennett in New Berlin, New York. Admitted to the bar in 1839, he opened a practice in Terre Haute, Indiana, and while on the judicial circuit met and became friends with Abraham Lincoln. Elected to the Indiana state legislature in 1850, he served one term. In 1856 he ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives on the Republican ticket. Five years later he was appointed Indiana's attorney general, but soon resigned to accept the post as first Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Interior. In this position, he investigated the damage claims and capital sentences arising from the Minnesota Sioux Uprising, and he recommended clemency and moderation. When Caleb B. Smith resigned his post as Secretary in December 1862, he succeeded him on January 8, 1863. This was done more because of Indiana's political importance than Lincoln's personal preference. During his term, he advocated several plans for the colonization of former slaves, believing that blacks should be resettled away from white populations. Attempts at colonizing Central America failed, and he could not get support for the establishment of black reservations in the States. He also was a large stockholder in the Union Pacific Railroad, which was completing its leg of the transcontinental railway. As Secretary of the Interior, he was in an excellent position to determine rights of way; consequently, entire Indian reservations were relocated to facilitate the railroad's completion. While in office, he also presented reports commenting on the benefits of the Homestead Act of 1862, increased appropriations for Indian reservations, and the taxation of gold and silver mines. He supported Lincoln's policies and ardently opposed Radical moves to displace Lincoln in 1864 and warned him against Salmon P. Chase's ambitions repeatedly. When another Hoosier, Hugh McCulloch, entered Lincoln's Cabinet in March 1865, his days were numbered, and he was asked to resign by May 15 in order that there not be two men from the same state in the Cabinet. Lincoln quickly chose Senator James Harlan of Iowa to succeed him. Then tragically came the President's assassination. Of note, it seems that he was the only person at the Petersen House on the night of the assassination that managed to get any sleep; he was found by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, asleep on the bed in the back parlor. Not long into the Andrew Johnson administration, he fell in with the Radicals and criticized Johnson for his policies toward the South. On May 15, 1865, he resigned his post and moved to Lawrence, Kansas. Here he would serve one term as Mayor; this would be his last politcal post. He also accepted the position of chief counsel to the Union Pacific Railroad, serving in that position until his death in Philadelphia. (bio by: Stonewall) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Margaret A Patterson Usher (1818 - 1911)*
 
 Children:
  Arthur Patterson Usher (1846 - 1888)*
  John Palmer Usher (1849 - 1931)*
  Linton Joseph Usher (1852 - 1952)*
  Samuel Chambers Usher (1855 - 1928)*
 
*Calculated relationship

Cause of death: cancer
 
Burial:
Oak Hill Cemetery
Lawrence
Douglas County
Kansas, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jul 10, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 10535
John Palmer Usher
Added by: The Mystery Man
 
John Palmer Usher
Added by: Tom Denardo
 
John Palmer Usher
Added by: Stephen Thomas
 
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- Lance
 Added: Apr. 28, 2013
John Palmer Usher:Sir, thank you for serving as the nation's 7th Secretary of the Interior between 1863 and 1865,remembering you after 124 years, may you rest in peace!
- MFPS
 Added: Apr. 13, 2013

- Debra Polly
 Added: Oct. 22, 2012
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