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
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by William Potter
Succeeded by William Draper
36th United States Attorney General
In office
March 5, 1881 – December 15, 1881
President James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Preceded by Charles Devens
Succeeded by Benjamin H. Brewster
United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
In office
October 25, 1870 – June 10, 1871
President Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by Edward Morris
Succeeded by George Boker
Personal details
Born Isaac Wayne MacVeagh
(1833-04-19)April 19, 1833
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died January 11, 1917(1917-01-11) (aged 83)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican (Before 1892, 1896–1917)
Democratic (1892–1896)
Spouse(s) Letitia Lewis
Virginia Cameron
Relations Franklin MacVeagh (Brother)
Children Charles
Education Yale University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Militia
Union Army
Years of service 1862–1863
Battles/wars American 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

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

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

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


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 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. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FMacVeagh%2C_Wayne "MacVeagh, Wayne" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 269.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Dechert company profile by Gale Group, courtesy of Answers.com
  5. Public Domain 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. p. 829.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Edward J. Morris
United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
October 25, 1870 – June 10, 1871
Succeeded by
George H. Boker
Preceded by
William Potter
United States Ambassador to Italy
March 11, 1894 – March 4, 1897
Succeeded by
William F. Draper
Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles Devens
U.S. Attorney General
Served under: James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur

March 5, 1881 – December 15, 1881
Succeeded by
Benjamin H. Brewster