William M. Meredith
- For the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, see William Morton Meredith.
|William Morris Meredith|
|Mathew Brady Daguerreotype of William Meredith taken during the 1840s|
|19th United States Secretary of the Treasury|
March 8, 1849 – July 22, 1850
|Preceded by||Robert J. Walker|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Corwin|
June 8, 1799|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 17, 1873
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
William Morris Meredith (June 8, 1799 – August 17, 1873) was an American lawyer and politician.
He served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly from 1824 to 1828, and was president of the Philadelphia City Council from 1834 until 1849. He was also United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1841.
President Zachary Taylor, wanting a Pennsylvanian Whig for his cabinet, appointed William M. Meredith to be the 19th Secretary of the Treasury. He began his term in office in March 1849. Meredith strongly opposed the free trade legislation passed the year before under his predecessor Robert J. Walker. He felt that there was a need to protect the American workman, who was subject to competition from poorly paid European labor. Meredith's principal contribution in office was his Annual Report of 1849 in which he set forth an elaborate argument for a protective tariff.
The increase in the public debt due to the Mexican-American War and the acquisition of California gave Meredith additional argument for raising revenue through higher import duties, but no action was taken on the tariff during Meredith's term. He also recommended a revision of the Coast Survey Code, which had not been changed since its implementation in 1806, because the Coast Survey had seen great expansion and improvement with the introduction of steam powered ships. Meredith resigned with the rest of the Presidential Cabinet upon Taylor's death in 1850.
He was the state attorney general of Pennsylvania from 1861 from 1867. In 1870, Meredith served as a member of a commission working out the settlement of the Alabama claims. He died in 1873.
He was a grandnephew of Gouverneur Morris.
1849 Double Eagle
Meredith was given one of only two 1849 Double Eagles while serving as Treasury Secretary. The 1849 Double Eagle is a pattern coin. The other coin is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. The coin was auctioned as part of his estate but its subsequent whereabouts are unknown.
Parts of this article are based on information taken from the official web site of the US Treasury, which is a branch of the US Government, and thus presumed to be in the public domain.
- William M. Meredith at Find a Grave
- Biographical sketch of William M Meredith, The American Law Register, Vol. 55, No. 4, Apr 1907
- The Meredith Family Papers, including William M. Meredith's political correspondence, civic papers and legal case files, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Robert J. Walker
|U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: Zachary Taylor