Andrew Curtin (Dickinson Chronicles)

John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., “Andrew Gregg Curtin,” Dickinson Chronicles,
Andrew Gregg Curtin was born April 22, 1817 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He was the son of a Scots Irish immigrant who had begun an iron manufacturing concern in Center County and his second wife, Jean Gregg, daughter of a prominent Pennsylvania political family. He prepared at academies in Harrisburg and Milton and entered Dickinson to study law under Judge John Reed. He graduated with the class of 1837 and began private practice after being admitted to the bar in 1839.

Active in support of Whig candidates, he placed his developing skills as a speaker at the service of an array of candidates, including Harrison, Clay, and Taylor. By 1854, he was regarded highly enough to be offered the Whig nomination for governor, which he refused in favor of his friend James Pollock. Pollock named Curtin immediately as Secretary of the Commonwealth. His work on public schooling added to his name and he stood for governor himself in the pivotal election of 1860 as a strong supporter of Lincoln. He thus became one of the so-called "war governors" upon whom Lincoln depended for support after the outbreak of hostilities.

He is famous for his unswerving activity on behalf of the Union and both his raising of and caring for the troops sent to the Army from Pennsylvania. He was over-whelmingly re-elected in 1863. Following the end of the Civil War, he was increasingly prominent in Republican circles, first being briefly considered as running mate to Grant in 1868 and then being appointed minister to Russia where he served for three years.

On his return, he supported Greeley for president and moved in the direction of the Democratic Party. He was later elected for three terms to Congress as a Democrat in the 1880s. He retired in 1887 and lived in quiet retirement till his death on October 27, 1894.
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