Philander Chase Knox

Philander Chase Knox

Brownsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 12 Oct 1921 (aged 68)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Valley Forge, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot General Varnum Section
Memorial ID 6654180 · View Source
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US Attorney General, US Senator, and US Secretary of State. He was the 44th Attorney General, serving under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt from April 1901 until June 1904, as the 40th US Secretary of State under President William Howard Taft from March 1909 until March 1913, and as US Senator from Pennsylvania for two terms, from June 1904 until March 1909 and again from March 1917 until his death in October 1921. One of nine children, his father was a banker and his mother was active in philanthropic and social organizations. He attended private primary and secondary schools and following high school, he attended Mount Union College (now University of Mount Union) in Alliance, Ohio, where he graduated in 1872 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He then studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1875 and practiced law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1876 until 1877 he was the assistant US attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He soon became a leading Pittsburgh attorney in partnership with James Hay Reed, their firm being Knox and Reed. He was a member of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, which had a clubhouse upriver of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It maintained an earthen dam for a lake by the club, which was stocked for fishing. In 1889 the dam failed in May 1889, causing the Johnstown Flood and severe losses of life and property downriver. When word of the dam's failure was telegraphed to Pittsburgh, Frick and other members of the Club gathered to form the Pittsburgh Relief Committee for assistance to the flood victims. They decided together to refrain from speaking publicly about the club or the flood. In 1897 he became President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and served as a director of the 5th National Bank of Pittsburgh. With Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Mellon, he was a director of the Pittsburgh National Bank of Commerce. In 1901 he was appointed as US Attorney General by President William McKinley and was re-appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt. While serving under Roosevelt, he helped to implement the concept of Dollar Diplomacy. In June 1904, he was appointed by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker of Pennsylvania to fill the unexpired term of US Senator Matthew Quay who had died the previous month and the following year he was elected by the state legislature to fill the remainder of the full term for the US Senate seat. In 1908 he made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party nomination for US President. In February 1909 President-elect William Howard Taft nominated him to be Secretary of State. He was at first found to be constitutionally ineligible, because Congress had increased the salary for the post during his Senate term, thus violating the Ineligibility Clause. In particular, Knox had been elected to serve the term from March 1905 to March 1911. During debate on legislation approved on February 26, 1907, as well as debate beginning on March 4, 1908, he had consistently supported pay raises for the Cabinet, which were eventually instituted for the 1908 fiscal calendar. The discovery of the constitutional complication came as a surprise after Taft had announced his intention to nominate him. The Senate Judiciary Committee proposed the remedy of resetting the salary to its pre-service level, and the Senate passed it unanimously in February 1909. However, members of the U.S. House of Representatives mounted more opposition to the relief measure and defeated it once. After a special procedural rule was applied, the measure was passed and in March 1909, the salary of the Secretary of State position was reverted from $12,000 to $8,000, and he took office. It was later known as the "Saxbe fix" and such legislation has been passed in a number of similar circumstances. As Secretary of State, he reorganized the Department on a divisional basis, extended the merit system to the Diplomatic Service up to the grade of chief of mission, pursued a policy of encouraging and protecting American investments abroad, declared the ratification of the 16th Amendment, and accomplished the settlement of controversies related to activities in the Bering Sea and the North Atlantic fisheries. After his term expired, he returned to Pittsburgh to resume his law practice. In 1916 he was elected by popular vote to the US Senate from Pennsylvania for the first time, after passage of the 17th Amendment providing for such popular elections. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1920 US Presidential election, but was defeated at the Republican Convention. In April 1921 he introduced a Senate resolution to bring a formal end to the US involvement in World War I. It was combined with a similar House resolution to create the Knox-Porter Resolution, and signed by President Warren G. Harding. He died a few months later at the age of 68.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Garver Graver
  • Added: 2 Aug 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6654180
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Philander Chase Knox (6 May 1853–12 Oct 1921), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6654180, citing Washington Memorial Chapel Churchyard, Valley Forge, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .