Philander C. Knox

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Philander Chase Knox
Philander C Know-H&E.jpg
United States Senator
from Pennsylvania
In office
March 4, 1917 – October 12, 1921
Preceded by George Oliver
Succeeded by William Crow
In office
June 10, 1904 – March 4, 1909
Preceded by Matthew Quay
Succeeded by George Oliver
40th United States Secretary of State
In office
March 6, 1909 – March 5, 1913
President William Howard Taft
Preceded by Robert Bacon
Succeeded by William Jennings Bryan
44th United States Attorney General
In office
April 5, 1901 – June 30, 1904
President William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by John Griggs
Succeeded by William Moody
Personal details
Born (1853-05-06)May 6, 1853
Brownsville, Pennsylvania, US
Died October 12, 1921(1921-10-12) (aged 68)
Washington, D.C., USA
Political party Republican
Alma mater West Virginia University
Mount Union College
Profession Lawyer, politician
Signature

Philander Chase Knox (May 6, 1853 – October 12, 1921) was an American lawyer, bank director and politician who served as United States Attorney General (1901–1904), a Senator from Pennsylvania (1904–1909, 1917–1921) and Secretary of State (1909–1913). He served in the Cabinet under three presidents. Active in law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the partnership known as Knox and Reed, Knox was also one of several founders of the city of Monessen in the state, where a street is named for him. With the industrialists Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Mellon, he was a director of the Pittsburgh National Bank of Commerce.

Early life, education, and marriage[edit]

Knox's house in Brownsville

Knox was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, one of nine children of Rebecca (née Page) and David S. Knox.[1] His father was a banker and his mother was active in philanthropic and social organizations. He went to private primary and secondary schools attended by children of the affluent. Knox attended Mount Union College, where he graduated in 1872 with a bachelor of arts degree. While there, he formed a lifelong friendship with William McKinley, the future U.S. President, who at the time was a local district attorney. Knox attended the West Virginia University College of Law, graduating in 1875.[citation needed]

Marriage and family[edit]

In 1880, Knox married Lillie Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Smith. Her father was a partner in a steel company known as Smith, Sutton and Co. The company eventually became a part of Crucible Steel. Knox and his wife had several children, including Hugh Knox. His extended relatives include a nephew, "Billy" Knox.[citation needed]

Legal career[edit]

Knox was admitted to the bar in 1875 and practiced in Pittsburgh. From 1876-77 he was Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Knox became a leading Pittsburgh attorney in partnership with James Hay Reed, their firm being Knox and Reed (now Reed Smith LLP). In 1897 Knox became President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Along with Jesse H. Lippencott, a fellow member of an elite hunting club (see South Fork below), Knox served as a director of the Fifth National Bank of Pittsburgh. With Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Mellon, he was a director of the Pittsburgh National Bank of Commerce. As counsel for the Carnegie Steel Company, Knox took a prominent part in organizing the United States Steel Corporation in 1901.[citation needed]

Social organizations[edit]

Knox was a member of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, which had a clubhouse upriver of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It maintained an earthen dam for a lake by the club, which was stocked for fishing. The dam failed in May 1889, causing the Johnstown Flood and severe losses of life and property downriver. When word of the dam's failure was telegraphed to Pittsburgh, Frick and other members of the South Fork Club gathered to form the Pittsburgh Relief Committee for assistance to the flood victims. They decided together to refrain from speaking publicly about the club or the flood. This strategy was a success, and Knox and Reed were able to fend off all lawsuits that would have placed blame upon the Club’s members.[citation needed]

Knox was also a member of the elite Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh.

Personal[edit]

Knox's nickname was “Sleepy Phil,” as he was said to have dozed off during board meetings, or because he was cross-eyed.

Political career[edit]

U.S. Attorney General[edit]

In 1901 Knox was appointed as US Attorney General by President William McKinley and was re-appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt. He served until 1904. While serving President Roosevelt, Knox worked hard to implement the concept of Dollar Diplomacy.

He told President Roosevelt: "Mister President, do not let so great an achievement suffer from any taint of legality," made in regard to the construction of the Panama Canal.[citation needed]

U.S. Senator[edit]

In June 1904, Knox was appointed by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker of Pennsylvania to fill the unexpired term of the late Matthew S. Quay in the United States Senate. In 1905, he was elected by the state legislature to fill the remainder of the full term for the US Senate seat (to 1909).[citation needed]

Knox made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party nomination in the 1908 U.S. presidential election.

U.S. Secretary of State[edit]

In February 1909, President William Howard Taft nominated Senator Knox to be Secretary of State.[2] He was at first found to be constitutionally ineligible, because Congress had increased the salary for the post during his Senate term, thus violating the Ineligibility Clause.[3] In particular, Knox had been elected to serve the term from March 4, 1905, to March 4, 1911. During debate on legislation approved on February 26, 1907, as well as debate beginning on March 4, 1908, he had consistently supported pay raises for the Cabinet, which were eventually instituted for the 1908 fiscal calendar.[3][4] The discovery of the constitutional complication came as a surprise after President-elect Taft had announced his intention to nominate Knox.[3]

The Senate Judiciary Committee proposed the remedy of resetting the salary to its pre-service level, and the Senate passed it unanimously on February 11, 1909.[4] Members of the U.S. House of Representatives mounted more opposition to the relief measure and defeated it once. After a special procedural rule was applied, the measure was passed by a 173–115 vote.[5] On March 4, 1909, the salary of the Secretary of State position was reverted from $12,000 to $8,000, and Knox took office on March 6.[3][4] Later known as the "Saxbe fix", such legislation has been passed in a number of similar circumstances.

Knox served as Secretary of State in Taft's cabinet until March 5, 1913. As Secretary of State, he reorganized the Department on a divisional basis, extended the merit system to the Diplomatic Service up to the grade of chief of mission, pursued a policy of encouraging and protecting American investments abroad, declared the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, and accomplished the settlement of controversies related to activities in the Bering Sea and the North Atlantic fisheries.

US sets up base of operations in Nicaragua[edit]

Officers of Zelaya's government executed some captured rebels; two United States mercenaries were among them, and the U.S. government declared their execution grounds for a diplomatic break between the countries which later led to formal intervention. At the start of December, United States Marines landed in Nicaragua's Bluefields port, supposedly to create a neutral zone to protect foreign lives and property but which also acted as a base of operations for the anti-Zelayan rebels.[citation needed]

On 17 December 1909, Zelaya turned over power to José Madriz and fled to Spain. Madriz called for continued struggle against the mercenaries, but in August 1910 diplomat Thomas Dawson obtained the withdrawal of Madriz. Thereafter the U.S. called for a constituent assembly to write a constitution for Nicaragua and the vacant presidency was filled by a series of Conservative politicians including Adolfo Diaz. The U.S. Marines remained stationed in Nicaragua until 1932, with one brief withdrawal in 1925. They also supervised several Nicaraguan elections during, this time, though through free trade and loans, the U.S. exercised strong control over the country.[citation needed]

Return to the Senate[edit]

Following his term of office, Knox resumed the practice of law in Pittsburgh. In 1916, Knox was elected by popular vote to the Senate from Pennsylvania for the first time, after passage of the Seventeenth Amendment providing for such popular elections. He served from 1917 until his death in 1921. A candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1920 U.S. Presidential election, Knox was handily defeated at the convention.[citation needed]

In April 1921 he introduced a Senate resolution to bring a formal end to American involvement in World War I. It was combined with a similar House resolution to create the Knox–Porter Resolution, signed by President Warren G. Harding on July 2.[6]

Knox died in Washington, D.C. later that year, aged 68.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Demmler, Ralph H (1977). "Knox & Reed; Reed, Smith, Shaw & Beal; Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay", p. 7
  2. ^ 43 Congressional Record 2390-403 (1909).
  3. ^ a b c d "Knox Seems Barred From the Cabinet". The New York Times. 1909-02-10. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  4. ^ a b c "Knox Relief Bill Passes in Senate" (PDF). The New York Times. 1909-02-12. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  5. ^ "Way Clear For Knox to Enter Cabinet" (PDF). The New York Times. 1909-02-16. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  6. ^ Staff (July 3, 1921). "HARDING ENDS WAR; SIGNS PEACE DECREE AT SENATOR'S HOME. Thirty Persons Witness Momentous Act in Frelinghuysen Living Room at Raritan.". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Bacon
U.S. Secretary of State
Served under: William Howard Taft

1909–1913
Succeeded by
William Jennings Bryan
United States Senate
Preceded by
George Oliver
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
1917–1921
Served alongside: Boies Penrose
Succeeded by
William Crow
Preceded by
Matthew Quay
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
1904–1909
Served alongside: Boies Penrose
Succeeded by
George Oliver
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Griggs
U.S. Attorney General
Served under: William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt

1901–1904
Succeeded by
William Moody
Party political offices
Preceded by
None1
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
(Class 1)

1916
Succeeded by
David Reed
Notes and references
1. In the 1904 election, Knox was elected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The 1916 election marked the first time that Class 1 Senators were elected through popular vote.