1954: The life of Louis McLane

At the Society’s 1954 annual meeting, Professor John A. Munroe of the University of Delaware delivered a lecture on the life of Louis McLane, an important figure in Delaware in the years before the Civil War.

Louis McLane was born in Smyrna in 1786. His father was Allen McLane, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. After attending private schools and Newark Academy (now University of Delaware), he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1807. He married Catherine Milligan in 1812 and the couple had thirteen children.

McLane served in the War of 1812 in the Wilmington Artillery Company. Following the war, he was elected to the United States Congress and served as a representative from Delaware from 1817 to 1827. He then served a partial term in the United States Senate beginning in 1827. After his time in Congress, McLane served in a succession of offices. He was chosen by President Andrew Jackson as the minister to England in 1829, appointed as the secretary of the treasury in 1831, and appointed to secretary of state in 1833. After retiring from politics the following year, McLane was chosen as president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1857. He also served on a mission to England under the Polk administration, returning to his home in Baltimore, Maryland in 1850. Louis McLane died in 1857.

Many of McLane’s letters, which are in the collections of the historical society, were on display. The University of Delaware loaned a portrait of Louis McLane in their collections for the event.


Portrait of Louis McLane. Original painting in collections of the University of Delaware.
Portrait of Louis McLane. Original painting in collections of the University of Delaware.

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