Cameron, Simon

Simon Cameron, detail

Simon Cameron served multiple terms in Senate and held the position of Secretary of War under Lincoln. He was born in 1799 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His father, Charles Cameron, struggled financially and could not afford to educate him. Nonetheless, in his adolescence he became a printer’s apprentice. Later, Cameron took jobs as an editor and invested in his first paper in 1822. That same year, he met and married his wife, Margaretta Brua with whom he fathered ten children. Cameron was a tall, scrawny man with a narrow face and furrowed brow. In 1824 he entered public service and by 1845 became a U.S. Senator, defeating fellow Democrat, James Buchanan, with support from Whigs and anti-Catholics. In response, the regular Democrats unseated Cameron in the subsequent election. In 1857, Cameron won reelection as a Republican. In 1860 he ran for president, but ended up giving his support to Lincoln. Although wary of Cameron’s reputation for political corruption, Lincoln appointed him Secretary of War in 1861. In 1862 the House of Representatives censured Cameron for giving unsupervised contracts to unqualified firms. The House claimed that Cameron practiced patronage and rarely recorded financial records accurately. In 1867 he returned to the Senate, but his censure remained in effect until 1871. Cameron served until 1877 at which point he stepped down so that his son, James Cameron, could take his seat. He died in 1889 at his home in Harrisburg. (By David Park)

Life span

Life Summary

Full name
  Simon Cameron
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
  Free State
No. of Spouses
No. of Children
Charles Cameron (father), Martha Pfoutz (mother), Margaretta Brua (wife, 1822) , J. Donald Cameron (son)
Relation to Slavery
  White non-slaveholder
Political Parties
  American Party (Know Nothings or Nativists)
Other Affiliations
  Nativists (Know Nothings)
  Lincoln Administration (1861-65)
  US Senate
  Other state government

Note Cards



Date Title
01/16/1857 New York Times, “The Tariff Bill,” January 16, 1857
01/02/1859 Recollection of Jesse W. Fell, Conversation with Abraham Lincoln in early 1859
08/30/1859 Lowell (MA) Citizen & News, “Presidential,” August 30, 1859
11/01/1859 Abraham Lincoln to William E. Frazer, November 1, 1859
11/12/1859 William E. Frazer to Abraham Lincoln, November 12, 1859
02/28/1860 New York Herald, “Trouble among the Republican President Makers,” February 28, 1860
03/02/1860 Newark (OH) Advocate, “The Chicago Convention,” March 2, 1860
04/14/1860 Alexander Kelly McClure to Eli Slifer, April 14, 1860
05/16/186005/18/1860 Recollection by Henry C. Whitney, Republican National Convention, May 16-18, 1860
06/12/1860 New York Herald, “Commencement of Republican Cabinet Making,” June 12, 1860
07/01/1860 James O. Putnam to Leonard Swett, copied in Swett to Abraham Lincoln, July 1860
11/08/1860 New York Herald, “Who are the Cooks in Pennsylvania?,” November 8, 1860
11/12/1860 John P. Sanderson to David Davis, November 12, 1860
01/01/1861 Anonymous to Abraham Lincoln, January 1, 1861
01/01/1861 John P. Verree to Abraham Lincoln, January 1, 1861
01/01/1861 New York Herald, “Cabinet Rumors from Pennsylvania,” January 1, 1861
01/06/1861 Joseph Medill to Charles H. Ray and John Locke Scripps, January 6, 1861
01/21/1861 Israel Washburn Jr. to Abraham Lincoln, January 21, 1861
02/03/1861 New York Herald, “Greeley for Senator, Why Not?,” February 3, 1861
02/10/1861 New York Herald, “More Trouble About Old Abe’s Cabinet,” February 10, 1861
03/15/1861 New York Times, “Hon. David Wilmot United States Senator,” March 15, 1861
07/01/1861 Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “More Stealing in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 1861
07/08/1861 Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Secretary Cameron,” July 8, 1861
08/10/1861 John P. Crawford to Abraham Lincoln, August 10, 1861
08/11/1861 Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Simon Cameron,” August 11, 1861
09/21/1861 Chicago (IL) Tribune, “How They Do It,” September 21, 1861
12/05/1861 Alexander Galt to Amy Galt, Washington DC, December 5, 1861
12/31/1861 Abraham Lincoln to David Hunter, December 31, 1861
01/14/1862 Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Resignation of Secretary Cameron,” January 14, 1862
04/04/1864 Abraham Lincoln to Albert G. Hodges, April 4, 1864
08/22/1864 Henry J. Raymond to Abraham Lincoln, August 22, 1864, New York City
11/15/1865 Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Reception of Colored Troops,” November 15, 1865
11/15/1865 Philadelphia (PA) North American, "Reception of Colored Troops," November 15, 1865
05/12/1880—05/13/1880 John G. Nicolay's conversation with James Moorhead, May 12-13, 1880