Alexander Kelly McClure (January 9, 1828 – June 6, 1909) was an American politician, newspaper editor and writer from Pennsylvania who served as a Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1858 to 1859, the Pennsylvania State Senate for the 18th district in 1861, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1865 to 1866 and the Pennsylvania Senate, 4th district from 1873 to 1874. He was a prominent supporter, correspondent and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln.[2] He was the editor of the Franklin Repository newspaper in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and of the Philadelphia Times. The borough of McClure, Pennsylvania and the Alexander K. McClure School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are named in his honor.

Alexander Kelly McClure
Alexander Kelly McClure.jpg
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
1858–1859, 1865-1866
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the 18th district
In office
Preceded byGeorge W. Brewer
Succeeded byGeorge Hough Bucher
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the 4th district
In office
Preceded byHenry Wolf Gray
Succeeded byHoratio Gates Jones
Personal details
Born(1828-01-09)January 9, 1828
Sherman's Valley, Pennsylvania
DiedJune 6, 1909(1909-06-06) (aged 81)
Wallingford, Pennsylvania
Resting placeLaurel Hill Cemetery,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political partyRepublican
Other political
Whig (before 1856)[1]


Early life and educationEdit

McClure was born on January 9, 1828, in Sherman's Valley, Perry County, Pennsylvania, to Alexander and Isabella Anderson McClure. He grew up on a farm and received little formal education. At the age of fourteen, he traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and apprenticed as a tanner. He traveled west as far as Iowa but returned to Pennsylvania after failing in the tannery business. He worked as a printer at the Perry County Freeman and the Juniata Sentinel in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.[3]

He became editor and publisher of the Sentinel in 1846, and became known for his Whig political views.

McClure was appointed to the staff of the first Whig governor of Pennsylvania, William F. Johnston, with the honorary rank of colonel. In 1850, Millard Fillmore appointed McClure deputy United States Marshal for Juniata County. He moved to Chambersburg in 1852 and purchased the Franklin Repository newspaper.

He studied law and was admitted to the Franklin County, Pennsylvania, bar in 1856.[1]


McClure became active in the newly formed Republican Party and was an outspoken abolitionist.[4] In 1857, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and re-elected in 1858 and 1859.[5]

At the 1860 Republican National Convention McClure became a well-known political figure, opposing fellow Pennsylvanian Simon Cameron's bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency. McClure and Andrew G. Curtin helped swing the state's vote away from Cameron and William Seward to Abraham Lincoln. After Lincoln's election, McClure became chairman of the Republican state committee and helped to elect Curtin governor of Pennsylvania.

He served in the Pennsylvania Senate for the 18th district in 1861 and for the 4th district in 1873.[1]

When the Civil War began, McClure rallied support for the war as Chairman of the Senate Committee of Military Affairs. He assisted Governor Curtin in planning a meeting of fourteen Northern state governors known as the "Loyal War Governors of the North", in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in order to secure their continued support of the war.[6] McClure was commissioned by President Lincoln as an assistant adjutant general with the rank of major on September 6, 1862. He was tasked with raising seventeen Pennsylvania regiments for induction into the U.S. Army[1] and served until he resigned his commission on February 27, 1863. During the U.S. Civil War, Confederate forces threatened McClure's home in Chambersburg several times. McClure was captured but released when General J.E.B. Stuart entered Chambersburg on his raid around McClellan's army in October 1862. The following July, Confederates under then Colonel Eppa Hunton crossed the Potomac River and destroyed railroad property in Chambersburg en route to the Battle of Gettysburg, but noted McClure's hospitality.[7] Days before the battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Albert Jenkins was a guest at McClure's house.[4] McClure personally met with Robert E. Lee during the second occupancy of Chambersburg by the Confederate army.[6]

In 1864, during the Confederacy's third occupation of Chambersburg, when the town was unable to pay ransom demanded by General Jubal Early, Confederates burned McClure's home, Norland along with much of the rest of the town,[8] The home was rebuilt and sold to Wilson College. The building that housed the Franklin Repository newspaper operations was also destroyed in the blaze.[9]

In 1864, McClure moved to Philadelphia, opened a law office[10] and helped Lincoln carry Pennsylvania again in the general election.

In 1865, McClure was elected again to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as a Union Party member.[5]

After the war, McClure traveled extensively in the Western United States to recoup personal wealth lost during the war. He became an investor and officer of the Philadelphia-based Montana Gold and Silver Mining Company and was superintendent of one of the company's mills at the Oro Cache vein in the Montana Territory. He also collaborated with former Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin as an incorporator of the McClure-Curtin Oil Company in Venango County, Pennsylvania.[1]

He returned to Philadelphia in 1868 after supporting Ulysses S. Grant at the Republican National Convention. By the time of Grant's reelection bid, McClure had left the Republican Party and threw his support to Horace Greeley and the Liberal Republican Party.

In 1867, McClure published "Three Thousand Miles Through the Rocky Mountains" and it became a resource by many interested in traveling in the West.[6]

In 1873, McClure was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate for the 4th district. In 1874, he ran for mayor of Philadelphia but lost by only 900 votes.

McClure returned to newspaper editing by founding the Philadelphia Times in 1875. He continued as The Philadelphia Times' editor until 1901, when he sold the newspaper to Adolph Ochs.

He lost much of his fortune in the stock market but was able to obtain an appointment as a law clerk of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.[6]

He also worked to heal sectional divisions between Union and former Confederate forces, including participating at the unveiling of the monument to Confederate General George Pickett at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.[11] In 1886 McClure wrote The South: Its Industrial, Financial, and Political Condition, which included material on race relations in the South. McClure recognized that integration was necessary.

Personal lifeEdit

McClure married Cora M. Gratz in 1879 after his first wife's apparent death.[1] Together they had at least one son.[6]

Death and legacyEdit

McClure died on June 6, 1909, in Wallingford, Pennsylvania and was buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.[12]

The town of McClure, Pennsylvania[13] and the Alexander K. McClure School in Philadelphia are named in his honor.

Works by Alexander McClureEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Pennsylvania State Senate - Alexander Kelly McClure Biography". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ The Valley of the Shadow, accessed June 10, 2008
  3. ^ McClure, James Alexander (1914). The McClure Family. Petersburg, Virginia: Presses of Frank A. Owen. p. 177. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Alexander K. McClure". Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Pennsylvania House of Representatives - ALEXANDER KELLY McCLURE Biography". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e Laabs, Damon M. "Alexander Kelly McClure". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  7. ^ Eppa Hunton, Autobiography pp. 87-89
  8. ^ Norland Hall Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, Wilson College, accessed June 10, 2008
  9. ^ Waterloo, Stanley (1896). Famous American Men and Women. Chicago, Illinois: Wabash Publishing House. p. 318. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  10. ^ Osborne, John. "Alexander Kelly McClure". Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  11. ^ Eppa Hunton, Autobiography p.88
  12. ^ "Maj Alexander Kelly McClure". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  13. ^ "McClure, Pennsylvania". Retrieved 9 February 2019.

External linksEdit