POLLOCK,  Gov. James A.

POLLOCK, Gov. James A.

Male 1810 - 1890  (79 years)

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  • Name POLLOCK, James A. 
    Prefix Gov. 
    Born 11 Sep 1810 
    Gender Male 
    Education 1831 
    at Princeton (College of New Jersey), graduating 
    Census (desc) 1840  Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Census (desc) 1850  Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    working as an attorney 
    Occupation Between 1854 and 1857 
    was governor of Pennsylvania 
    Census 1860  Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Biography
    • It was at the suggestion of James Pollock that the motto “In God We Trust” is stamped on coins of the United States. Pollock was born September 11, 1810 in Milton, Northumberland County, son of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian parents, William Pollock and Sarah Wilson. Not yet six years old when his father died in 1817, Pollock’s mother, who lived to age ninety-four, managed to educate seven children. The future governor, after attending Milton Classical Academy, received a bachelor’s degree, with highest honors, and a master of arts degree, both from the College of New Jersey at Princeton. He studied law with Samuel Hepburn before setting up a law practice in Northumberland County in 1833.

      While serving as Northumberland County district attorney from 1836 to 1838, he married Sarah Ann Hepburn in 1837, eventually raising three sons and five daughters.

      An appointment as common pleas judge followed and in 1844 he was elected to Congress. Pollock urged Congress to support a transcontinental railroad to the Pacific and, as a friend of Samuel F. B. Morse, the construction of a telegraph line.

      After three successive terms in Congress, he was appointed Pennsylvania’s Eighth Judicial District president judge, in 1850. During his judicial tenure, an amendment to the state constitution began requiring judges to submit to public elections, which Pollock declined.The Whigs nominated him for governor in 1854, and he was also supported by the Nativist “Know-Nothings,” who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and by temperance advocates. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was opposed primarily because it repealed anti-slavery provisions of the Missouri Compromise. Governor William Bigler attempted to avoid the issue of slavery, as the state Democrats refused to give their endorsement to his party’s appeasement of Southern Democrats by allowing slavery into new U.S. territories. However, the Whigs successfully exploited the issue and defeated Bigler by a 55 to 45 percent voter margin.

      Pollock also disapproved of alcohol and card playing, but when these four disparate groups gained large blocks in the General Assembly, legislative activities were hindered by their strife. Pollock’s most notable milestone of his administration was the sale, in 1857, of the western division of the State Works-consisting of canals and the Allegheny Portage Railroad-to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had opened its own line to Pittsburgh in 1854 after opening the famous Horseshoe Curve crossing in the Allegheny Mountains near Altoona.

      This began Pennsylvania’s process of liquidating the expensive and increasingly obsolete State Works. The canals were by then operating at a continual deficit and the operation was racked by corruption. The sale greatly reduced the state debt, allowing Pollock to reduce taxes. Governor Pollock also brought about the Normal School Act of 1857, which brought about regional teacher training institutions throughout the Commonwealth, the charter for the Farmer’s High School (the institution that would grow into the Pennsylvania State University), creation of a secretary of Common Schools, and purchase of the first governor’s mansion at 111 South Second Street in Harrisburg that would be the official home of two governors, Packer and Curtin. Until then, governors rented or purchased their own residences.

      When the Panic of 1857 struck the economy, there were mounting bank and business failures, unemployment, and concerns about possible winter riots and martial law. Pollock called a special legislative session that convened on election day and pushed through a temporary suspension of the requirement that banks pay their depositors and those who held their bank notes in gold or silver, thus preventing more bank failures as well as protecting the credit rating of Pennsylvania. However, Pollock found the chief executive’s duties so unpleasant to him that he refused to run for reelection. Like most Whigs, Pollock later became a Republican and although he would not again seek elected office, he continued public service for nearly another three decades.

      In 1861, Pollock was chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Washington Peace Convention, which failed to prevent the Civil War. That same year President Lincoln appointed him director of the United States Mint in Philadelphia. He served from 1861 to 1866 and then was reappointed by President Grant in 1869. From 1873 to 1879, he was elevated to superintendent of the Mint when the U.S. Mint became part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

      Pollock’s leadership at the Mint led to adopting his suggestion for the “In God We Trust” motto on U. S. coins. He also served as the naval officer of U.S. Customs in Philadelphia and was the federal chief supervisor of elections in 1886. The former governor was a trustee of Lafayette College and a founder and trustee of the Pennsylvania Military College. Pollock died in Lock Haven on April 9, 1890, and is interred in Milton Cemetery in the town of his birth.

      SOURCE UNKNOWN

      1836-38: Served as Northumberland County District Attorney
      1844-49: Elected as a Whig to the U.S. Congress - supported telegraph inventor Samuel Morse and advocated for a transcontinental railroad
      1851: Appointed President Judge of the Eighth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
      1855-58: As governor of the Commonwealth, he signed the Charter and was a founding trustee for the Pennsylvania State University
      1855-90: Served as Vice President of the American Sunday School Union
      1858: Co-founder and first president of the Milton National Bank
    Census (desc) 1870  Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    working as director of the U. S. Mint 
    Census (desc) 1880  Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    as ex-governor 
    _UID C0921CF82A5A61409A989CF719E49DAD97F8 
    Died 19 Apr 1890  Lock Haven, Clinton, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Address:
    Milton Cemetery 
    Person ID I277  Milton Families
    Last Modified 22 Mar 2014 

    Father POLLOCK, William,   b. 1769, Chester, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 May 1817, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 48 years) 
    Mother WILSON, Sarah,   b. 27 Oct 1771,   d. 19 Feb 1865, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years) 
    Married 25 Sep 1798  Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F94  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family HEPBURN, Sarah Ann,   b. 2 Jun 1817,   d. 24 Apr 1886, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Married 19 Nov 1837  Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. POLLOCK, Samuel Hepburn,   b. 23 Oct 1838, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Oct 1865, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years)
    +2. POLLOCK, William Curtis,   b. 30 Aug 1840, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. bfr 1920  (Age 79 years)
    +3. POLLOCK, Louisa Ann,   b. 11 Aug 1842, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. POLLOCK, Emily Clara,   b. 22 Feb 1845,   d. 6 Jul 1846, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 1 years)
    +5. POLLOCK, James Crawford,   b. 29 Nov 1847, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1908, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years)
    +6. POLLOCK, Sarah Margaret,   b. 20 Mar 1850, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     7. POLLOCK, Emma,   b. 22 Mar 1853, Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 27 Apr 2019 
    Family ID F96  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 19 Nov 1837 - Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus (desc) - 1840 - Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus (desc) - working as an attorney - 1850 - Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1860 - Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus (desc) - working as director of the U. S. Mint - 1870 - Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus (desc) - as ex-governor - 1880 - Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 19 Apr 1890 - Lock Haven, Clinton, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - Address:
    Milton Cemetery - - Milton, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, United States
    Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    James_Pollock.jpg
    James_Pollock.jpg

  • Sources 
    1. [S2] Census - U.S., Image 9.

    2. [S2] Census - U.S., Image 6.

    3. [S2] Census - U.S., Image 38.