Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Spinner, Francis Elias

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SPINNER, Francis Elias, financier, b. in German Flats (now Mohawk), N. Y., 21 Jan., 1802; d. in Jacksonville, Fla., 31 Dec., 1890. His father, John Peter (b. in Werbach, Baden, 18 Jan., 1768; d. in German Flats, 27 May, 1848), was a Catholic priest, then embraced Protestantism, married, emigrated to the United States in 1801, and was pastor of Reformed churches at Herkimer and German Flats until his death, preaching at first in German alone, and afterward alternately in German and English. The son was educated carefully by his father, who required him to learn a trade, and apprenticed him at first to a confectioner in Albany, and afterward to a saddler in Amsterdam, N. Y. He engaged in trade at Herkimer in 1824, and became deputy sheriff of the county in 1829. He was active in the militia organization, and by 1834 had reached the grade of major-general. In 1835-'7 he was sheriff, and in 1838-'9 commissioner for building the state lunatic asylum at Utica. When he was removed from this post, on political grounds alone, he became cashier of a bank at Mohawk, of which he was afterward president for many years. He held various local offices, was auditor and deputy naval officer in the naval office at New York in 1845-'9, and in 1854 was elected to congress as an anti-slavery Democrat. He served on the committee on privileges and elections, on a special committee to investigate the assault made by Preston Brooks on Charles Sumner, and on a conference committee of both houses on the army appropriation bill, which the senate had rejected on account of a clause that forbade the use of the military against Kansas settlers. Gen. Spinner was an active Republican from the formation of the party. He was twice re-elected to congress, serving altogether from 3 Dec., 1855, till 3 March, 1861. During his last term he was the chairman of the committee on accounts. When the Lincoln administration was organized, Sec. Salmon P. Chase selected him for the post of treasurer, which he filled, under successive presidents, from 16 March, 1861, till 30 June, 1875. When, during the war, many of the clerks joined the army, Gen. Spinner suggested to Sec. Chase the advisability of employing women in the government offices, and carried into effect this innovation, though not without much opposition. He signed the different series of paper money in a singular handwriting, which he cultivated in order to prevent counterfeiting. When he resigned his office the money in the treasury was counted, and when the result showed a very small discrepancy, many days were spent in recounting and examining the books of accounts, until finally the mistake was discovered. On retiring from office he went to the south for the benefit of his health, and for some years he lived in camp at Pablo Beach, Florida.