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John Sergeant (politician)

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Title: John Sergeant (politician)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: United States presidential election, 1832, United States House of Representatives elections, 1818, Adam Seybert, United States congressional delegations from Pennsylvania, Joseph Reed Ingersoll
Collection: 1779 Births, 1852 Deaths, Burials at Laurel Hill Cemetery (Philadelphia), Burials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Place, Federalist Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, National Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Federalists, Pennsylvania National Republicans, Pennsylvania Whigs, People from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Princeton University Alumni, United States Vice-Presidential Candidates, 1832, Whig Party Members of the United States House of Representatives
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

John Sergeant (politician)

For other persons named John Sergeant, see John Sergeant
John Sergeant.

John Sergeant (December 5, 1779 – November 23, 1852) was an American politician who represented Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives. He was born in Philadelphia to Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant and Margaret Spencer. He came from a family of American politicians, including his father, his grandsons, John Sergeant Wise and Richard Alsop Wise, and his great-grandson, John Crain Kunkel.

Private Life and Education

Sergeant was educated in the common schools and at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. He graduated from Princeton College in 1795. He became a lawyer and, after being admitted to the bar in 1799, practiced law for fifty years.

Public service

In 1800 Sergeant became deputy attorney general for Philadelphia and then commissioner of bankruptcy for Pennsylvania the following year. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1808 to 1810. He was elected as a Federalist to the United States House of Representatives to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Jonathan Williams. He was re-elected three times, serving from October 10, 1815 to March 3, 1823, and managed to reach the position of chairman of the United States House Committee on the Judiciary. Sergeant was a strong backer of Henry Clay's American System and the Second Bank of the United States in Congress, and even traveled to Europe to negotiate loans to the Bank. He was also a strong opponent of slavery who voted against the Missouri Compromise. He then retired (albeit temporarily) from Congress.

In 1825, he was president of the Pennsylvania Board of Canal Commissioners. The following year, he was an envoy to the Panama Congress, and then was returned to the U.S. House of Representatives for the term starting March 4, 1827. He failed re-election to the following term and left Congress for the second time on March 3, 1829. He then became legal counsel to the Bank of the United States.

Vice Presidential Candidate

Sergeant was Henry Clay's running mate on the National Republican ticket in 1832 but lost to Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in a landslide and again retreated from public life.

After his Vice Presidential candidacy, he returned as president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1838, and then was elected as a Whig to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served this last time from March 4, 1837 until he resigned on September 15, 1841, and again was chair of the Committee on the Judiciary for the 1837 – 1839 term. He returned to his law practice, declining offers of a cabinet or diplomatic position from the new Whig administration.

In 1844 he was considered for the Whig vice presidential nomination, to once again run with Clay, but at the convention lost out to Theodore Frelinghuysen.

Sergeant died in Philadelphia and is interred at Laurel Hill Cemetery.

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