Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Grow, Galusha Aaron

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GROW, Galusha Aaron, statesman, b. in Ashford (now Eastford), Windham co., Conn., 31 Aug., 1824. When ten years old he removed to Susquehanna county, Pa., where he attended a district-school and pursued a preparatory course in Franklin academy, Harford. He was graduated at Amherst in 1844, studied law in Montrose, and was admitted to the bar of Susquehanna county, 19 April, 1847. He soon afterward settled in Towanda, and became a partner of David Wilmot. He practised law until the spring of 1850, when feeble health compelled him to seek out-door pursuits, and he engaged in farming, surveying, and gathering hemlock bark for tanneries. In the fall of 1850 he received and declined a unanimous nomination to the legislature, tendered by the Democratic party. A few weeks later, David Wilmot, Free-soil, and James Lowrey, Pro-slavery, candidates of the Democratic party for congress, withdrew from the contest on an agreement that the two branches of the party should unite upon Mr. Grow as a candidate. The conventions reassembled, placed Mr. Grow in nomination, and, after an exciting campaign of one week, he was elected over John C. Adams, Whig. He took his seat in congress in December, 1851, being its youngest member, and continued to represent the “Wilmot district” for twelve successsive years, although he had severed his connection with the Democratic party on the repeal of the Missouri compromise. His period of service was distinguished by the legislation on the Missouri compromise, the Kansas troubles, and the Homestead and Pacific railroad bills, as well as the election of Speaker Banks and the presidential campaigns of Fremontand Lincoln. He rendered important services on the committees on Indian affairs, agriculture, and territories, being a member of the latter six years and its chairman four. His first speech was delivered upon the homestead bill, a measure which he continued to urge at every congress for ten years, when he had at last the satisfaction of signing the law as speaker. At the convening of the first or extra session of the 37th congress, 4 July, 1861, he was elected speaker, and held the position until 4 March, 1863, when, on retiring, he received a unanimous vote of thanks, the first vote of the kind given to any speaker in many years. He was a delegate to the National Republican conventions of 1864 and 1868, and chairman of the Pennsylvania state committee during the latter campaign. In 1857 he was a victim of the National hotel poisoning. He spent the summer of 1870 in California, Oregon, and British Columbia, and in 1871 he settled in Houston, Tex., as president of the International and Great Northern railroad of Texas, remaining there until 1875, when he returned to Pennsylvania and took an active part in the state election of that year and the presidential campaign of 1876. In the autumn of 1876 he declined the mission to Russia.