William Wilkins (American politician)
William Wilkins (December 20, 1779 – June 23, 1865) was a United States Representative and United States Senator from Pennsylvania, a member of both houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, United States Minister to Russia and the 19th United States Secretary of War.
Education and careerEdit
Born on December 20, 1779, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Wilkins attended the Pittsburgh Academy, the forerunner of the University of Pittsburgh. He read law in 1801 and graduated from Dickinson College in 1802. He was admitted to the bar and entered private practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1801 to 1806. He continued private practice in Lexington, Kentucky from 1806 to 1807. He resumed private practice in Pittsburgh from 1808 to 1815. He assisted in organizing the Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company in 1810. He was the first President of the Bank of Pittsburgh. He was President of the Pittsburgh City Council from 1816 to 1819. He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1819 to 1820. He was President Judge of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas for the Fifth Judicial District from 1820 to 1824.
Federal judicial serviceEdit
Wilkins was nominated by President James Monroe on May 10, 1824, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania vacated by Judge Jonathan Hoge Walker. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 12, 1824, and received his commission the same day. His service terminated on April 14, 1831, due to his resignation.
Congressional races during his judicial tenureEdit
Wilkins was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1826 to the 20th United States Congress. He was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the 21st United States Congress, but resigned before qualifying, never taking his seat.
United States Senate and diplomatic serviceEdit
Wilkins was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the United States Senate from Pennsylvania and served from March 4, 1831, to June 30, 1834, when he resigned. He was Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary from the 22nd United States Congress and Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for the 23rd United States Congress. Following his departure from Congress, Wilkins served as United States Minister to Russia for the United States Department of State from 1834 to 1836. He resumed private practice in Pittsburgh from 1836 to 1843. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the 27th United States Congress in 1840.
United States House serviceEdit
Wilkins was elected as a Democrat from Pennsylvania's 21st congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 28th United States Congress and served from December 4, 1843, to February 14, 1844, when he resigned. He was Chairman of the United States House Committee on the Judiciary for the 28th United States Congress.
Wilkins was appointed as the 19th United States Secretary of War by President John Tyler, serving from 1844 to 1845. He resumed private practice in Pittsburgh starting in 1845. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1855 to 1857. He again resumed private practice in Pittsburgh from 1858 to 1865. He was a major general of the Pennsylvania Home Guards in 1862.
- William Wilkins at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Starrett, Agnes Lynch (1937). Through one hundred and fifty years: the University of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 45. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
- United States Congress. "William Wilkins (id: W000475)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Porter, Thomas J. Jr. (May 10, 1984). "Town names carry a little bit of history". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 1. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Homewood Cemetery Biography & History".
- "Dickinson College Biography".
- "Gravesite Photos".
- "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Wilkins". politicalgraveyard.com.