The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Quay, Matthew Stanley

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QUAY, kwā, Matthew Stanley, American politician: b. Dillsburg, York County, Pa., 30 Sept. 1833; d. Beaver, Pa., 28 May 1904. He was graduated from Jefferson College in 1850, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1854 and elected prothonotary of Beaver County in 1856 and 1859. During the Civil War he was in active service as colonel of the 134th Pennsylvania regiment, being present at the battle of Fredericksburg; he was also assistant commissary general of Pennsylvania, State military agent at Washington and military secretary to the governor. In 1865-67 he was a member of the Pennsylvania legislature; in 1872-78, and again in 1879-82, he was State secretary; recorder for the city of Philadelphia in 1878-79; and State treasurer in 1885. As early as 1869 he was secretary of the executive committee of the Republican State committee, and after that became the undisputed leader of his party in Pennsylvania. In national politics he was a member of the Republican national committee after 1885, and in 1888 was its chairman, conducting a successful presidential campaign. In 1887 he was elected United States Senator, serving continuously till 1899; in that year a deadlock in the legislature prevented his re-election. This was in part owing to the fact that in 1898, on the failure of the People's Bank where State funds were deposited, he had been accused of being party to a conspiracy for the misappropriation of public funds; the trial occurred in April 1899 and resulted in his acquittal. He was then appointed Senator ad interim by the governor and elected to the Senate in 1901 for the term expiring in 1905. In the Senate he was one of the strongest opponents of the Panama Canal. His power as a political organizer lay chiefly in his adroit methods of reconciling opposing factions and hostile interests. A striking example of this was his method of meeting the reform movement of 1902 by supporting as candidates for governor of the State and mayor of Philadelphia, men who were endorsed by the reformers and not prominent in the regular Republican organization, thus gaining the support of what might have been a dangerous opposition.