Military Wiki
William H. Crawford
7th United States Secretary of the Treasury

In office
October 22, 1816 – March 6, 1825
President James Madison
James Monroe
Preceded by Alexander Dallas
Succeeded by Richard Rush
9th United States Secretary of War

In office
August 1, 1815 – October 22, 1816
President James Madison
Preceded by James Monroe
Succeeded by John Calhoun
Ambassador to France

In office
March 23, 1813 – August 1, 1815
Appointed by James Madison
Preceded by Joel Barlow
Succeeded by Albert Gallatin
President pro tempore of the Senate

In office
March 24, 1812 – March 23, 1813
President James Madison
Preceded by John Pope
Succeeded by Joseph Varnum
United States Senator
from Georgia

In office
November 7, 1807 – March 23, 1813
Preceded by George Jones
Succeeded by William Bulloch
Personal details
Born William Harris Crawford
(1772-02-24)February 24, 1772
Amherst County, Virginia
Died September 15, 1834(1834-09-15) (aged 62)
Crawford, Georgia, United States
Political party Democratic-Republican Party
Spouse(s) Susanna Gerardine
Children 7
Profession Lawyer

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Crawford as Secretary of the Treasury.

William Harris Crawford (February 24, 1772 – September 15, 1834) was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.

Political career

In 1803, Crawford was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party. He allied himself with senator James Jackson. Their enemies were the Clarkites, led by John Clark. In 1802, he shot and killed Peter Lawrence Van Alen, a Clark ally, in a duel. Four years later on December 16, 1806, Crawford faced Clark himself in a duel, resulting in Crawford's left wrist being shattered by a shot from Clark, but he eventually recovered.[1] In 1807, Crawford joined the 10th United States Congress mid-term as the junior U.S. Senator from Georgia when the Georgia legislature elected him to replace George Jones, an appointee who had held the office for a few months after the death of Abraham Baldwin.

Crawford was elected President pro tempore in 1811. When Vice President George Clinton died on April 20, 1812, Crawford, as President pro tempore, became the first "Acting Vice President" until March 4, 1813.

In 1811, Crawford declined to serve as Secretary of War in the Madison administration.

In 1813, President James Madison appointed Crawford as the U.S. minister to France during the waning years of the First French Empire; Crawford held that ministerial post until 1815, shortly after the end of the War of 1812.

Upon Crawford's return, Madison appointed him as Secretary of War. After slightly more than a year of satisfactory service in that post (and after disclaiming interest in the 1816 Democratic-Republican nomination for President), Crawford moved within the Cabinet to become Secretary of the Treasury. He remained in that position through the rest of Madison's term and Monroe's entire administration which ended in 1825.

Crawford was again a leading candidate for the Democratic-Republican presidential nomination in 1824. However, Crawford was put out of the running because of a paralytic stroke he suffered in 1823 that was brought on by a prescription given to him by his physician.[2] The Democratic-Republican Party split around this time and one of the splinter groups nominated Crawford. Despite Crawford's improved health (and the support of former presidents Madison and Thomas Jefferson), he finished third in the electoral vote, behind Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. He thus was still in the nominal running when the Presidential election ended up in the House of Representatives, due to the provision within the Twelfth Amendment giving a line on the House ballot to each of the top three candidates, but his stroke made him a non-factor there.

Refusing Adams's request that he remain at the Treasury, Crawford then returned to Georgia, where he was appointed as a state superior court judge. Crawford remained an active judge until his death a decade later.

Crawford was nominated for vice president by the Georgia legislature in 1828 but later withdrew after support from other states was not forthcoming. Crawford also considered running for vice president in 1832 but decided against it in favor of Martin Van Buren. Crawford also considered running for president again in 1832 but dropped the idea when Andrew Jackson decided to seek a second term.


During the 1820s, Crawford was a member of the prestigious society Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.[3] Crawford also served as a Vice President in the American Colonization Society from its formation in 1817 until his death.

Personal life

William Harris Crawford was descended from John Crawford (1600–1676) who had come to Virginia in 1643, John Crawford died taking part in Bacon’s Rebellion. John’s son David Crawford, I (1625–1698) was the father of David Crawford, II (1662–1762) and the grandfather of David Crawford, III (1697–1766). David Crawford, III married Ann Anderson in 1727 and had 13 children including Joel Crawford (1736–1788).

William Harris Crawford was born in Amherst County, Virginia, the sixth of eleven children born to Joel Crawford and Fanny Harris Crawford. Crawford's family moved south to the village of Appling in Columbia County, Georgia, when he was a boy. As a young man, he worked as a farmer and a schoolteacher for about 10 years, then began to practice law in Lexington, Georgia, in 1799.

His cousin George W. Crawford served as Secretary of War under President Zachary Taylor.

Crawford is buried at the site of his home, about one-half mile west of the current Crawford city limit.


Crawford depicted on United States Fractional currency.

In 1875, Crawford appeared on the 50 cent bill.

The following are named in honor of William H. Crawford.[4]

Cities and Towns

  • Crawford, Georgia
  • Crawfordville, Georgia
  • Crawfordsville, Indiana


  • Crawford County, Arkansas
  • Crawford County, Georgia
  • Crawford County, Illinois
  • Crawford County, Indiana
  • Crawford County, Iowa
  • Crawford County, Michigan
  • Crawford County, Missouri
  • Crawford County, Wisconsin


  • Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes. American National Biography, vol. 5, "Crawford, William Harris". New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Money, Chase William H. Crawford, 1772-1834. Lexington, KY : University Press of Kentucky, 1974
  • Shipp, J.E.D. Giant Days or The Life and Times of William H. Crawford. Americus, GA : Southern Printers, 1909


External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
George Jones
Senator (Class 2) from Georgia
Served alongside: John Milledge, Charles Tait
Succeeded by
William Bulloch
Preceded by
John Pope
President pro tempore of the Senate
Succeeded by
Joseph Varnum
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Joel Barlow
United States Minister to France
Succeeded by
Albert Gallatin
Political offices
Preceded by
James Monroe
U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: James Madison

Succeeded by
John Calhoun
Preceded by
Alexander Dallas
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: James Madison, James Monroe

Succeeded by
Richard Rush
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Monroe
Democratic-Republican presidential nominee
Served alongside: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay
Party abolished

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