Simon Cameron

Photo of Simon Cameron
Simon Cameron

Quick Facts

Significance:
26th United States Secretary of War
Place of Birth:
Maytown, PA
Date of Birth
March 8, 1799
Place of Death:
Maytown, PA
Date of Death
June 26, 1889
Place of Burial:
Harrisburg, PA
Cemetery Name
Harrisburg Cemetery

Simon Cameron was born in 1799 in Maytown, Pennsylvania. Orphaned at the age of nine, he was forced to work in printing and editing and during the early 1820s he worked briefly for congressional printers in Washington D.C., where he learned about national politics and established important political connections. In 1824, he returned to Pennsylvania, to run the Republican newspaper and was soon implementing considerable influence in state and national politics.

Ambitious and materialistic, Simon Cameron set his sights higher than state politics and won a seat in the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1844. Although not re-elected at the end of his term, Cameron joined the new Republican Party and was returned to the Senate in 1857. He would remain a Republican for the remainder of his career and was largely responsible for making the Pennsylvania Republican party an efficient political machine.

Though a candidate for president in 1860, Cameron threw his support to Abraham Lincoln during the Republican National Convention, for which he was rewarded with the appointment as Secretary of War upon Lincoln's election. After less than a year in office, however, Cameron was replaced due to allegations of corruption and was appointed minister to Russia. After the Civil War, Cameron was again elected to the senate in 1867, joining the Radical Republicans. He remained active in politics until his death in 1889.