Henry Marie Brackenridge

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Henry Marie Brackenridge
HM Brackenridge 1901.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 22nd district
In office
October 13, 1840 – March 3, 1841
Preceded byRichard Biddle
Succeeded byWilliam W. Irwin
Personal details
BornMay 11, 1786
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 18, 1871 (aged 84)
Political partyWhig

Henry Marie Brackenridge (May 11, 1786 – January 18, 1871) was an American writer, lawyer, judge, superintendent,[1] and U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1786, he was educated by his father, the writer and judge Hugh Henry Brackenridge, and private tutors before attending a French academy at Ste. Genevieve in what is now Missouri. He studied law and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1806, then practiced in Somerset, Pennsylvania.

Brackenridge subsequently moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was a lawyer and journalist. In 1811, he became the first recorded tourist to present-day South Dakota, hosted by fur trader Manuel Lisa.[2] Henry was appointed deputy attorney general of the Territory of Orleans (Louisiana), and district judge of Louisiana in 1812.

He played an intelligence role during the War of 1812, and in 1814 published a history of the war. In 1817 he was appointed secretary of a mission to South America. He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1818.[3] In 1821, Brackenridge entered the diplomatic service of General Andrew Jackson, who was the new commissioner of Florida. Through Jackson's influence, he served as U.S. judge for the western district of Florida from 1821 to 1832.

When President John Quincy Adams established the Naval Live Oak Area on January 18, 1829, Superintendent Brackenridge lived on the property and experimented with cultivating the live oak tree for shipbuilding. He is therefore considered the country's first federal forester.[4]

Brackenridge returned to Pennsylvania in 1832 and became owner of a large tract of land upon which he founded the town of Tarentum, 22 miles northeast of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River. The adjacent Allegheny County borough of Brackenridge is named for him.

He was elected as a Whig to the 26th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Richard Biddle, and served from October 13, 1840, to March 3, 1841. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1840.

After politics, Brackenridge pursued literature until his death in Pittsburgh on January 18, 1871. He is buried in Prospect Cemetery in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.

Brackenridge's published works include Views of Louisiana (1814).[5] Sent to South America to study political conditions, he recounted his experiences in Voyage to South America (1819). His Recollections of Persons and Places in the West (1834) is considered a valuable historical source.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Florida, State Library and Archives of. "Portrait of Henry Marie Brackenridge". Florida Memory. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  2. ^ Hogan, Edward Patrick; Fouberg, Erin Hogan (2001). The Geography of South Dakota (Third ed.). Sioux Falls, SD: The Center for Western Studies – Augustana College. ISBN 0-931170-79-6.
  3. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  4. ^ "The Live Oak Story - Gulf Islands National Seashore (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  5. ^ "Views of Louisiana. Together with a Journal of a voyage up the Missouri River, in 1811". Worldcat. Quadrangle Books. 1962. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by