John Palmer Usher
John Palmer Usher

In office
January 1, 1863 – May 15, 1865
Preceded by Caleb Blood Smith
Succeeded by James Harlan

Born January 9, 1816(1816-01-09)
Brookfield, New York, U.S.
Died April 13, 1889 (aged 73)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Politician, Lawyer

John Palmer Usher (January 9, 1816 – April 13, 1889) was a U.S. administrator who served in the Cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Born in Brookfield, New York, Usher trekked west in 1839 to locate in Terre Haute in western Indiana where he became a law partner with William D. Griswold in the firm of Griswold & Usher. An outstanding trial lawyer, Usher traveled the circuit in Indiana and Illinois during the 1840s and 1850s, becoming acquainted with Abraham Lincoln of Springfield, Illinois. He also became a mentor to young Joseph Gurney Cannon.

While Usher was serving as the elected Indiana Attorney General in March 1862, Lincoln asked him to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Then-secretary Caleb Blood Smith had little interest in the job, and, with declining health, soon delegated most of his responsibilities to Usher. When Smith resigned in December 1862, Usher became Secretary effective January 1, 1863.

Usher served as the Secretary of the Interior between 1863 and 1865. He was known as genial, courteous, and unobtrusive secretary. When Andrew Johnson took office as president after Lincoln was assassinated, Usher was the first cabinet member replaced.

Usher died of cancer at the age of 73.

External links[edit | edit source]

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