Dunning R. McNair

Dunning Robert McNair (April 2, 1797 – March 16, 1875) was the Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate from March 17, 1853 to July 6, 1861.[1]

Dunning Robert McNair
Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate
In office
March 17, 1853 – July 6, 1861
Preceded byRobert Beale
Succeeded byGeorge T. Brown
Personal details
BornApril 2, 1797
Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania
DiedMarch 16, 1875 (1875-03-17) (aged 77)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeCongressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.


Dunning R. McNair was born in what would become Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania on April 2, 1797, the son of Dunning Mcnair, a prominent Pittsburgh area legislator, militia colonel, businessman, and land speculator. Dunning R. McNair was involved in several business ventures, including operation of a stage line that carried mail between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and along the National Road between Cumberland, Maryland and Wheeling, West Virginia. He also became active in the militia and attained the rank of colonel.

McNair later relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, where he speculated in land and continued to operate stagecoach lines and carry mail. In the 1840s he was appointed War Department Mineral Agent with the rank of Major at Fort Wilkins, Michigan, where he supervised the mining of copper ore for military use.

From 1853 to 1861 McNair was Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate. He is most notable because while serving as Sergeant at Arms in 1856 he helped restrain Representative Preston Brooks after Brooks used his cane to beat Senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor.[2]

McNair died in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 1875 and he was buried at the Congressional Cemetery.[3]


  1. ^ "Guides to Archives and Manuscript Collections at the University of Pittsburgh Library System". digital.library.pitt.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  2. ^ Phelps, Charles A. (1872-01-01). Life and Public Services of Ulysses S. Grant, from his birth to the present time, and a Biographical Sketch of Hon. Henry Wilson: Embellished with Steel Portraits, and 4 Illustrations ... People's Edition. Lee & Shepard.
  3. ^ "CONGRESSIONAL CEMETERY - INTERMENT INDEX - M". bytesofhistory.org. Retrieved 2015-10-02.