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Charles Rollin Buckalew (December 28, 1821 – May 19, 1899) was an American lawyer and Democratic party politician from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He served in the state senate and represented Pennsylvania in both the U.S. House and Senate. He was a graduate of Harford Academy, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1843.

Charles R. Buckalew
Charles R. Buckalew - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 17th district
In office
March 4, 1889 – March 3, 1891
Preceded byEdward Scull
Succeeded bySimon P. Wolverton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1889
Preceded byJohn B. Storm
Succeeded byJoseph A. Scranton
United States Senator
from Pennsylvania
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 4, 1869
Preceded byDavid Wilmot
Succeeded byJohn Scott
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Charles Rollin Buckalew

(1821-12-28)December 28, 1821
Fishing Creek Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMay 19, 1899(1899-05-19) (aged 77)
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Permelia Wadsworth Buckalew
ProfessionPolitician, Lawyer

Life and careerEdit

Buckalew was the most influential early advocate of proportional representation in the United States. His proposals for a type of voting system known as cumulative voting gained significant support in Congress, and he played a central role in the adoption of cumulative voting in several places, including Illinois for state legislative elections in 1870, a system that lasted in that state until 1980.

Buckalew was elected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the U.S. Senate in 1863. In a number of speeches, notably in the Senate on July 11, 1867; at a large public meeting in Philadelphia in November of the same year; before the Social Science Association at Philadelphia in October 1870; and in the Senate of Pennsylvania on March 27, 1871; as well as in the report of the Select Committee on Representative Reform of the United States Senate, of which be was chairman, Buckalew argued persuasively for the use of cumulative voting in the election of representatives in Congress, state legislatures, town councils and other bodies.[1]

Buckalew's bill in the Senate would have allowed all the electors of a state to have the number of votes equal to the number of house of representatives members to be elected from that state. The voter could give all his votes to one candidate, or distribute them in any fashion, equally or unequally, among candidates. The candidates with the highest number of votes would be elected.[2]

In addition to serving in Congress and the Pennsylvania state legislature, Buckalew was commissioner to exchange ratifications of a treaty with Paraguay in 1854; chairman of the Democratic State committee in 1857; appointed one of the commissioners to revise the penal code of Pennsylvania in 1857; Minister Resident to the Republic of Ecuador 1858-1861; unsuccessful candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 1872; and a delegate to the Pennsylvania constitutional convention of 1873.

He resumed the practice of law when he left Congress in 1891, age 69, in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, where he died on May 19, 1899.

Buckalew's writings and speeches on cumulative voting were collected in an 1872 book titled Proportional Representation. 1872, Philadelphia, J. Campbell & Son.

References and notesEdit

External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "Charles R. Buckalew (id: B001019)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2009-04-01
  • "Charles R. Buckalew". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  • Proportional Representation, by Charles R. Buckalew at the University of Michigan Making of America online library
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
David Wilmot
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
March 4, 1863 – March 4, 1869
Served alongside: Edgar Cowan and Simon Cameron
Succeeded by
John Scott
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John B. Storm
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

March 4, 1887 – March 4, 1889
Succeeded by
Joseph A. Scranton
Preceded by
Edward Scull
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district

March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1891
Succeeded by
Simon P. Wolverton
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Philo White
United States Minister Resident, Ecuador
20 September 1858 – 10 July 1861
Succeeded by
Frederick Hassaurek