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Meredith, William M.

Born: 1799-06-08 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died: 1873-08-17 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

William M. Meredith graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1812, when he was only thirteen. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1817, although it took him some time to establish a practice. A Federalist and later, a Whig, he won election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1824, where he remained until 1828. In 1834, he married Catherine Keppele, with whom he had five children, and was appointed president of the Philadelphia Select Council, a position he held until 1849. He was also a delegate to the 1837 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. He lost election to the U.S. Senate to James W. Cooper in 1845 and purchased the Wheatland Plantation outside of Lancaster, which was subsequently purchased by James Buchanan. Zacahary Taylor appointed Meredith secretary of the treasury in 1849, an office he filled until the mass resignations following Taylor's death. He opposed the Compromise of 1850 as too conciliatory to the slave states but vehemently supported California's admittance to the Union. Following his resignation from the cabinet, Meredith returned to Philadelphia and resumed his law practice. Several Whigs nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court, but his nomination was unsuccessful. Meredith joined the Republican Party, supported Abraham Lincoln's presidential bid in 1860, and was a delegate to the 1861 Peace Conference. That same year, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin appointed him state attorney general and he remained in that office until 1867.

Richard Lewis Ashhurst, "William Morris Meredith 1799-1873," The American Law Register 55 (April 1907), 201-43.