Alexander Kelly McClure (January 9, 1828 – June 6, 1909) was a journalist, editor, writer, politician, and historian, active in Pennsylvania Republican Party politics, especially in the 1860s, and a prominent supporter, correspondent, and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln. He was the editor of the Franklin Repository, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and of the Philadelphia Times. The borough of McClure, Pennsylvania - located in Snyder County - is named in his honor.
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, with little formal education. At fourteen, he apprenticed to a tanner. Later, he worked as a printer at the Perry County Freeman and the Juniata Sentinel, in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. 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. Johnson, 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, buying Franklin Repository newspaper, and marrying Matilda S. Gray.
McClure became interested in the newly formed Republican Party. He was an outspoken abolitionist. In 1857, he was elected to Pennsylvania's House of Representatives and re-elected in 1858 and 1859. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 1860.
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.
President Lincoln commissioned McClure as an assistant adjutant general with the rank of major on September 6, 1862, and served until resigned his commission on 27 February 1863. Meanwhile, Confederate forces several times threatened McClure's home in Chambersburg, a crucial railroad junction. McClure was captured but released when Gen. J.E.B. Stuart entered Chambersburg on his raid around McClellan's army in October 1862. The following July, Confederates under then Col. Eppa Hunton crossed the Potomac River and destroyed railroad property in Chambersburg en route to the Battle of Gettysburg, but noted McClure's hospitality. In 1864, during the Confederacy's third occupation of Chambersburg, when the town was unable to pay ransom demanded by Gen. Jubal Early, Confederates burned McClure's home, Norland along with much of the rest of the town. The home was rebuilt and sold to Wilson College. McClure stated in his biography that he "never saw General Lee during the war or after the war."
In 1864, McClure moved to Philadelphia and helped Lincoln carry Pennsylvania again in the general election.
In 1867, McClure wrote a book called Three Thousand Miles through the Rocky Mountains. He also became a representative 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 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 1873 McClure was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate. In 1874, he ran for mayor of Philadelphia and 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 also worked to heal sectional divisions between Union and former Confederate forces, including participating at the unveiling of the monument to Gen. Pickett at Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery. 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. In 1879 he married Cora M. Gratz.
Death and legacy
Works by Alexander McClure
- Three Thousand Miles Through the Rocky Mountains. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1869.
- The Annals of the Civil War. 1878. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.
- The South: Its Industrial, Financial, and Political Condition. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1886.
- The Life and Services of Andrew G. Curtin. Harrisburg: Clarence M. Busch, 1895.
- Lincoln's Yarns and Stories: A Complete Collection of the Funny and Witty Anecdotes That Made Abraham Lincoln Famous as America's Greatest Story Teller. Philadelphia: The J.C. Winston Company, 1900. Available from Google Books
- The Authentic Life of William McKinley Our Third Martyr President: Together with a Life Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt. Washington, DC: W.E. Scull, 1901.
- Famous American Statesmen & Orators, Past and Present: With Biographical Sketches and Their Famous Orations. New York: F.F. Lovell, 1902.
- Our Presidents and How We Make Them. New York: Harper, 1902.
- Colonel Alexander K. McClure's Recollections of Half a Century, The Salem Press Company, 1902. Available via Internet Archive.
- "Lincoln and Men of War Times: Some Personal Recollections of War and Politics during the Lincoln Administration". Philadelphia, The Times publishing company 1892
- The Valley of the Shadow, accessed June 10, 2008
- Penn State Libraries Biographical Sketch by Damon M. Laabs, accessed June 10, 2008
- The McClure Family by James Alexander McClure, page 177
- Explore Pennsylvania, accessed June 10, 2008
- Eppa Hunton, Autobiography pp. 87-89
- Norland Hall Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., Wilson College, accessed June 10, 2008
- Eppa Hunton, Autobiography p.88
- Maj Alexander Kelly McClure at Find a Grave
- Altoona Mirror's Souvenir. Altoona Library.
- Gerencser, James and John Osborne. In their own words- Alexander Kelly McClure. Dickinson College. 2004.
- Gould, Lewis L. “Alexander Kelly McClure.” American National Biography Online. 2000.
- Valley of the Shadow: Alexander K. McClure at valley.vcdh.Virginia.edu The Valley of the Shadow
- Mr. Lincoln's White House
- Pennsylvania State Senate - Alexander Kelly McClure
- Works by Alexander McClure at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Alexander Kelly McClure at Internet Archive