Wayne MacVeagh

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Wayne MacVeagh
Wayne MacVeagh - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Ambassador to Italy
In office
March 11, 1894 – March 4, 1897
PresidentGrover Cleveland
Preceded byWilliam Potter
Succeeded byWilliam Draper
36th United States Attorney General
In office
March 5, 1881 – December 15, 1881
PresidentJames A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Preceded byCharles Devens
Succeeded byBenjamin H. Brewster
United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
In office
October 25, 1870 – June 10, 1871
PresidentUlysses S. Grant
Preceded byEdward Morris
Succeeded byGeorge Boker
Personal details
Isaac Wayne MacVeagh

(1833-04-19)April 19, 1833
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJanuary 11, 1917(1917-01-11) (aged 83)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican (Before 1892, 1896–1917)
Democratic (1892–1896)
Spouse(s)Letitia Lewis
Virginia Cameron
RelationsFranklin MacVeagh (Brother)
EducationYale University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Union Army
Years of service1862–1863
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Isaac Wayne MacVeagh (April 19, 1833 – January 11, 1917) was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat. He served as the 36th Attorney General of the United States under the administrations of Presidents James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.[1]


Early life[edit]

MacVeagh was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, on April 19, 1833, the son of Major MacVeagh and Margaret (née Lincoln) McVeagh.[2] His brother, Franklin MacVeagh, was a Chicago wholesale grocer, banker and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President William Howard Taft.

He attended Yale University, where he was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter), and graduated tenth in his class in 1853. He was admitted to the bar in 1856, and was the District Attorney of Chester County, Pennsylvania, from 1859 through 1864.[1][3] During the American Civil War he joined the emergency militia of Pennsylvania that was organized against the threat of Confederate invasion in 1862 and 1863. He raised an independent cavalry company and later served in the 29th Emergency Militia Regiment, reaching the rank of major.[1]

Politician and lawyer[edit]

MacVeagh became a leader in the Republican Party, and was a prominent opponent of his father-in-law, Simon Cameron, in the fight within the party in 1871.[1] He was the Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1870 through 1871, and was a member of the state constitutional convention of 1872 and 1873.[3]

In 1875, MacVeagh co-founded the Philadelphia-based law firm known today as Dechert LLP.[4] He also served as Chairman of the MacVeagh Commission, sent in 1877 by President Rutherford B. Hayes to Louisiana, which secured the settlement of the contest between two existing state governments and thus made possible the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the state.[3]

MacVeagh served as the 36th Attorney General in 1881 under President James A. Garfield. He resigned after President Garfield's assassination.[3] Chester Arthur was to be 21st President and MacVeagh served as a cabinet member.[citation needed]

In 1892, he supported Grover Cleveland, the Democratic nominee for the presidency, and from 1893 to 1897 he served as Ambassador to Italy. He returned to the Republican Party in 1896. In 1903, he was an chief counsel of the United States before the Hague tribunal in the case regarding the claims of Germany, Britain and Italy against the republic of Venezuela.[3]

After the outbreak of World War I MacVeagh championed the cause of the Allies in an article "The Impossible Chasm", contributed to the North American Review in July 1915. In his last article "Lusitania Day: May 7 1916", for the same magazine, he assailed the slowness of the American government in asserting its rights against Germany.[5]

Personal life[edit]

MacVeagh married Letitia Miner Lewis, in 1856. They had one son, Charles MacVeagh (June 6, 1860 – December 4, 1931), who became the Ambassador to Japan.

In 1866, after his first wife's death, he married the former Virginia Rolette Cameron, a daughter of U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron.

MacVeagh died in Washington, D.C., on January 11, 1917. He was buried at the Church of the Redeemer Cemetery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d US Dept. of Justice: MacVeagh
  2. ^ "Where the Winner was Born" by William E. Curtis, Newspapers.com. Chicago Eagle, Chicago, IL. Sat. Sept. 1, 1894, p.1, Retrieved July 24, 2021
  3. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "MacVeagh, Wayne". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 269.
  4. ^ Dechert company profile by Gale Group, courtesy of Answers.com
  5. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "MacVeagh, Wayne". Encyclopædia Britannica. 31 (12th ed.). London & New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company. p. 829.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
October 25, 1870 – June 10, 1871
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Italy
March 11, 1894 – March 4, 1897
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by U.S. Attorney General
Served under: James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur

March 5, 1881 – December 15, 1881
Succeeded by