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William Harris Crawford

Crawford, William Harris, 1772–1834, American statesman, b. Amherst co., Va. (his birthplace is now in Nelson co.). He moved with his parents to South Carolina and later to Georgia. After studying law he practiced at Lexington, Va., and served (1803–7) in the state legislature. In the stormy state political battles of the time, he was the leader of the upcountry forces and allied with the followers of James Jackson and later George M. Troup, leaders of the tidewater region. In a duel Crawford killed a partisan of John Clark, head of the opposite faction, and in another duel was wounded by Clark. In the U.S. Senate (1807–13), Crawford staunchly advocated rechartering the Bank of the United States. From 1813 to 1815 he was minister to France. He was then appointed Secretary of War by President Madison, but in 1816 he was made Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held through both of Monroe's administrations. He had strong support for the presidency in 1816 but disavowed his candidacy. In the presidential election of 1824, Crawford, a leading candidate, finished third in the voting. Since no candidate received a majority of the electoral votes, the election went to the House of Representatives, and John Quincy Adams was finally chosen. Crawford later served as a judge in Georgia.

See biographies by P. J. Green (1965) and C. C. Mooney (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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