2010-02-13 / Front Page

County’s founder was a colorful, skilled politician

Simon Cameron Simon Cameron As Cameron County’s sesquicentennial celebration nears, it’s inevitable there will be talk about the man for whom the county was named.

Perhaps the county’s leaders of today – and tomorrow – could take some cues from the colorful and enigmatic Simon Cameron. He knew how to make money and he was skilled in the art of politics.

As a result, he was not without his critics, but Cameron’s defenders say he was motivated more by the public good than by his own ambition. Cameron maintained that he could have earned much more had he remained outside politics.

Still, his reputation among some historians is less than flattering.

A former Democrat with widespread interests in newspapers, banking and manufacturing, Cameron migrated to the Republican Party and served as a U.S. Senator.

He was seen as a Presidential candidate, but supporters of Abraham Lincoln prevailed. Lincoln appointed him Secretary of War in March 1861. Cameron was quick to embrace the concept of slave emancipation, even before Lincoln.

Cameron was removed from that office and served for a brief time as Minister to Russia. He managed to control a large part of the Lincoln Administration patronage in Pennsylvania.

After the war, Cameron returned to the Senate and remained one of the country’s most influential Republicans.

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