|John White Geary
Territorial Governor of Kansas, Union General,
Governor of Pennsylvania
John White was born near Mount
Pleasant, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on
December 30, 1819. He entered Jefferson College,
but was forced to leave after his father's loss
of property and sudden death. After a stint as a
teacher he became a clerk in a commercial house
in Pittsburg before studying mathematics, civil
engineering, and law. He was admitted to the bar,
but never practiced. After working as a civil
engineer in Kentucky, Geary was appointed
assistant superintendent and engineer of the
Allegheny Portage Railroad.
Soon after the Mexican-American
War broke out in 1846,
Geary became Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd
Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He
was wounded during the Battle of Chapultepec, but
resumed his command the same day during the
attack on the Belen Gate. For this service he was
made First Commander of the City of Mexico, and
Colonel of his regiment.
In 1849, Geary was appointed to
be first Postmaster of San Francisco. He also
became the first American alcalde
(sheriff/probate judge/mayor) and Judge of the
First Instance of San Francisco. He held these
positions until a new state constitution
abolished the offices. In 1850, he became the
first Mayor of San Francisco.
In 1854, Geary retired to his
farm in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, where
he remained until 1856, when he was appointed
Territorial Governor of Kansas. His
energy and firmness brought peace to
"Bleeding Kansas" for the first time in
many months, but a meeting of the pro-slavery
legislature in January 1857, and the lack of
support expected from incoming President James Buchanan, led to his resignation in March 1857.
After leaving Kansas, he again returned to
Upon outbreak of the Civil War, Geary raised the 28th Pennsylvania
Volunteers. He won distinction at Bolivar
Heights, where he was wounded, occupied Leesburg,
Virginia (March 1862), and routed General Hill.
Commissioned Brigadier-General of U.S. Volunteers
on April 25, 1862, he was severely wounded in the
arm at Cedar Mountain on August 9. He led the 2nd
Division of the 12th Corps at the battles of
Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and took part in
the battles of Wauhatchie and Lookout Mountain.
In command of the 2nd Division of the 20th Corps
March to the Sea, he was the first to enter
Savannah after its evacuation. In 1865, he was
promoted to Major General by brevet.
After the war, Geary was
elected Governor of Pennsylvania, an office he
held from 1866 to just before his death. During
his administration the state's debt was reduced,
a disturbance at Williamsport was quelled, and a
Bureau of Labor Statistics was established.
Geary died in Harrisburg on
February 8, 1873.
President James Buchanan
William Tecumseh Sherman
Questions or comments about