Brief Biographies from the Jackson/Van Buren Era (M):

MacKenzie, William Lyon 1795 - 1861:

Leader of a revolt in Canada in which U.S. citizens were embroiled (the "Caroline Affair").

Mackenzie, Alexander Slidell 1803 - 1843.

Naval officer who, in 1842, crushed a planned mutiny, and hung 3 of the mutineers. Acquitted of blame. Brother of John Slidell. Changed his name, adding MacKenzie, in 1838. Wrote A Year in Spain (2 vol) in 1829, and other popular books, such as Popular Essays on Naval Subjects in 1833, and another book on Spain.

Maclure, William 1763 - 1840 :

Scottish born merchant, who made his fortune by age 40; then a geologist and philanthropist in league for a while with Robert Owen and New Harmony. Settled in U.S. about 1796; became a citizen about 1803 or earlier. Produced a geological map of America, on an unprecedented scale, published in Volume I. of Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia from 1817 - 1840.

Brought Pestalozzian methods of education to the U.S.

In January 1826, he brought a number of scientists to New Harmony in a keelboat which New Harmonists called the "boatload of knowledge".

New Harmony failed as a commune, and he spent most of the rest his life in Mexico.

Madison, Dorethea Payne 1768 - 1849:

"Dolly", the wife of James Madison. Name synonymous with gracious hostship.

Madison, James 1751-1836:


Mallory, Stephen Russell 1813 - 1873:

Trinidad-born senator from Florida (1851-61), and secretary of the Confederate navy.

Malvin, John 1795 - 1880:

Born to a free woman and slave father, and grew up around Dumfries, VA.

In 1827, after he traveled across present-day West Virginia, to the Ohio at Marietta, where hired onto a flatboat that took him to Cincinnati, OH.

In 1829, he moved to Louisville, KY, having married the daughter of a slave from there. After some consideration of immigrating to Canada, the couple settled in Cleveland, Ohio in 1832.

From the 1830s to 1880 was an important free black citizen of Cleveland, OH. He persuaded the trustees of the Baptist church to fully integrate the pews.

Source: Malvin, North Into Freedom.

March, George Perkins 1801 - 1882:

In Congress 1843-9. Minister to Turkey 1849-53 and to Italy for two decades in 1861-82. Wrote scholarly works during his stay in Italy.

March, Sylvester 1803 - 1884:

Railroad promoter and inventor. developed inclined railroads; engines capable of handling steeper grades; air brakes.

Marcy, Randolph Barnes 1812 - 1887:

Became chief of staff to McClellan; brigadier and brevit major - general.

Marcy, William Learned 1786 - 1857:


Maretzek, Max 1821 - 1897:

Born in Moravia; became opera producer and conductor in New York from 1849-79. Composed ballet music and operas.

Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848

British. Served in the British navy; retired in 1830 and took up writing. Most of his books were didactic adventure novels (mostly at sea) written for young boys.

Link to some of his books.

Marsh, John 1799 - 1856:

Physician and California pioneer. Graduated Harvard 1823. The writer of the Sioux dictionary which is part of Caleb Atwater's Tour to Prairie du Chien (1831). Source: DAB.

Marshal, James Wilson 1810 - 1885:

With John A. Sutter, he discovered gold in California in 1848, setting of the 1849 gold rush.

Marshall, John 1755 - 1835:


Martineau, Harriet (1802 - 1876):

An English writer who remained single and was remarkably outspoken and intellectual for a woman of her day. She visited the U.S. in 1834-36, and wrote Society in America, an analytical account of U.S. society, and also Retrospective of Western Travel, an account of various places visited in her travels.

Her tastes and associations were largely aristocratic; her biases strongly pro-democracy and liberal, leaning towards agnosticism in religion.

She is one of the most widely quoted observers of the period.

Mason, John Young 1799 - 1859:

served in House of Representatives for Virginia 1831-37. Also a district judge; secretary of the navy; attorney general.

Mason, Joseph 1807 - 1883:

Accompanied Audubon on many of his explorations, acting as a masterful painter of vegetation. Born in Cincinnati, OH.

Mason, Lowell 1792 - 1872:

Organized Boston Academy of Music in 1833. Devised musical training methods for children and published a manual on training children in music in 1834.

Mather, Cotton 1663 - 1728:

Born in Boston. Assisted his father, Increase Mather, in the pastorate of Second Church in Boston from 1685-1723, and was sole pastor there until 1728. Was involved in witchcraft trials and executions from 1692-3, but repudiated them later.

He supported science and medicine, and was an early promoter of the use of smallpox vaccine, for which Benjamin Franklin's brother James (a printer), and Franklin himself, ironically, ridiculed Mather.

Mather, Increase 1639 - 1723:

Pastor of Second Church, Boston, from 1664-1723. President of Harvard from 1685-1701. In England. Born in Dorchester, MA. Made two trips to England: to preach, from 1658-61 (initially under Oliver and Richard Cromwell, but outlasting that regime); to negotiate for a new charter and governor from 1688-92. Wrote a book, Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits, credited with ending executions for witchcraft.

Father of Cotton Mather.

Matteson, Tompkins Harrison 1813 - 1884:

Painted Washington Crossing the Delaware and other patriotic works. Born in Peterboro NY.

Matthews, Stanley 1824 - 1889:

Had legal practice in Cincinnati starting in 1844. Colonel in Civil War. Senator from 1877-79. Sat on the supreme court from 1881.

Matthews, William 1822 - 1896:

Scottish born bookbinder. Came to U.S. in 1843. Opened his own book bindery in New York in 1846. From 1854-90 was head of bindery for D. Appleton & Company.

Maverick, Samuel Augustus 1803 - 1870:

Fought in the Texas Revolution. Member of Texas congress. Owned over 300 thousand acres of cattle which he perversely refused to brand and so the word "Maverick" for unbranded cattle got coined.

Maxcy, Jonathan 1768 - 1820

Born in Attleborough, MA.

President (1791-1802) of Rhode Island College (renamed, after his tenure Brown University), of Union College in Schenectady NY, and from 1804 (until his death?) of South Carolina College in Columbia, SC, where he served as the first president, and taught belles-lettres, criticism, and metaphysics.

"His features ... when they were exercised in conversation or public speaking, were strongly expressive, and exhibited the energy of the soul that animated them." (Elton, p21, quoted in DAB) He was strongly committed to religious freedom.

Older brother of Virgil Maxcy.

Main source: DAB; also Faust, Hammond.

Maxcy, Virgil 1785 - 1844

Lawyer, legislator, diplomat, Jacksonian Democrat. Younger brother of Jonathan Maxcy.

Born in Attleborough, MA (in a part which is now in Wrentham?). After graduating Brown U. 1800, and reading law, he married and settled in Maryland, where he lived at Tulip Hill, the estate built, near Anapolis, for his wife's grandfather Samuel Galloway estate.

"Campaigned vigorously for Andrew Jackson for President; took a leading part in the calling and transactions of the state Jackson convention early in 1827, the first to be held in the U.S." He received a treasury post under Jackson, and entered the diplomatic corps under Van Buren, serving in Belgium.

I have also noticed, in the published papers of John C. Calhoun, that they had a lively correspondence.

On 2/28/44, aboard the American battleship Princeton, the great gun called the "Peacemaker" exploded, killing Maxcy (and others, I think).

source: DAB

May, Samuel Joseph 1797 - 1871:

Pastor from 1822-36 in Brooklyn, CT; his first pastorate, and he being the "first Unitarian Preacher in Connecticut" (Pedlar's Progress, p104). He was strongly involved in the reform movements of the time, and was an "active agent of the Underground Railroad" (source: Concise DAB).

About 1827 he met, and greatly encouraged, Bronson Alcott (SJM is quoted in the article on BA). Alcott married his sister, Abigail.

Mayer, Brantz 1809 - 1879:

Secy., U.S. legation in Mexico City from 1841-44. Served in the Civil War and remained in the army until 1875. Wrote books on history of Mexico. Had a legal practice in Baltimore from 1832-41.

Maynard, Edward 1813 - 1891:

Dentist and firearms inventor. Developed breech-loading rifle.

Mayo, William Worrall

English-born medical doctor who came to U.S. in 1845 and built up a hugely successful practice in Minnesota.

McAllister, Samuel Ward 1827 - 1895:

Born in Savannah Georgia. Practiced law in San Francisco from 1850-52. Returned to the east and lived in New York and Providence, RI, and decided who was and wasn't part of New York Society. Wrote Society as I Have Found It in 1890.

McAlpine, William Jarvis 1812 - 1890:

Engineer and bridge-builder. Born in New York.

McArthur, Duncan 1772 - 1839:

Early pioneer in Ohio, and congressman from 1823-5; governor from 1830-2. Steeled near Chillicothe, OH. Born in Dutchess County, NY.

McCallum, Daniel Craig 1815 - 1878:

Scotish born Railroad engineer.

McClellan, George Brinton 1826-85:


McClelland, Robert 1807 - 1880:

Congress for Michigan 1843-9. Gov. of state 1851-3. Secretary of the interior 1853-7.

McCormick, Cyrus Hall 1809 - 1884:

Invented a mechanical reaper, pattented in 1834, and sold it widely, especially in the midwestern U.S. Son of Robert M.

McCormick, Robert 1780 - 1846:

Inventor of agricultural machinery. His son Cyrus invented the reaper. Born in Rockbridge County, VA.

McCormick, Stephen 1784 - 1875:

Invented a cast-iron plow with replaceable parts. First patented 1819.

McDowell, Irvin 1818 - 1885:

West Point class of 18338. Major general in Civil War. Lost the battle of Bull Run.

McDuffie, George 1790 - 1851:


McGee, Thomas D'Arcy 1825 - 1868:

Irish revolutionary who had to escape to the U.S> in 1848, and soon founded New York Nation, and American Celt. Left U.S. for Canada in 1857. Writer of several books.

McGuffey, William Holmes 1800 - 1873:


McKenley, John 1780 - 1852:

Senator from Alabama 1826-31. Member of House 1833-35. Served on Supreme Court from 1837. Born in Culpeper County, VA.

McLain, Louis 1786 - 1857:

In congress 1717 - 29; the last two years in the Senate. Made Ambassador to England by Jackson; then Secretary of the treasury 1831-33. He would not withdraw govt. funds from the BUS, and was replaced by Jackson who, however, made him Secy of state. Son of Allan M.; revolutionary war officer who lived until 1829.

McLain, Robert Milligan 1815 - 1898:

Member of House from 1847-51 and 1879-83. Served ambassadorial roles in the far east and Mexico in the 1850s an 1885-89 served in France. Gov. of Maryland 1883-5. Son of Allan M.; revolutionary war officer who lived until 1829.

McLean, John 1785 - 1861:

Postmaster General from 1822 until his appointment to the Supreme Court was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 1829. A poor son of a farmer (and ex-weaver), he learned the law in Cincinnati, became a successful lawyer, politician, and founder of the Western Star of Lebanon, OH.

Meade, George Gordon 1818-1872:


Meagher, Thomas Francis 1823 - 1867:

Irish revolutionary leader. Imprisoned; he escaped and came to U.S., where he became an Irish-American leader. Served in the Civil war and rose to brigadier general.

Mease, James 1771 - 1846:

Physician, scientist, and author of many books on rabies, geology, horticulture, the penitentiary system of Pennsylvania, ... Also Picture of Philadelphia (1811) (his home town).

In 1800, he married Sarah Butler, daughter of Pierce Butler of SC (a senator in the 1st congress). Their two sons had to change their names to Butler to receive an inheritance from their grandfather. One son, Pierce Butler, married Frances Anne Kemble.

Medill, Joseph 1823 - 1899:

Helped form the Republican party in 1854 and later. Founded the Cleeveland Leader in 1852; and partner in, and eventual sole owner, of the Chicago Tribune.

Meigs, Return Joseph 1740 - 1823

b.12/17, d.1/28

Prominent Revolutionary War soldier, born in Middletown CT; agent to the Cherokees from 1801 - ?. "When he was 82, having given up his quarters to an elderly visiting Indial chief and moved into a tent, he contracted pneumonia and died."

(Source DAB)

Meigs, Return Joseph 1764 - 1824

Governor of Ohio (1810?-14), Senator (1808-10), and Postmaster General (1814-23). Son of the elder and uncle of the younger Return J. Meigs.

(Source DAB)

Meigs, Return Joseph 1801 - 1891

Prominent Tennessee lawyer said to have declined election to the Senate as well as appointment to the Supreme Court. His strong Unionism made it difficult for him to stay in the state, and he moved to New York during the Civil War. From 1863 to his death, served as clerk of the supreme court of the District of Columbia. (Source DAB)

Melville, Herman 1819 - 1891:


Memminger, Christopher Gustavus 1803 - 1888:

German-born financier of the Confederacy. Came to U.S. as a child.

Menard, Michel Branamour 1805 - 1856:

French Canadian born fur trader in the far west. Founded the city of Galveston. Had county in Texas named for him.

Menard, Pierre 176 - 1844:

French Canadian born. Helped organize the St. Louis Missouri Fur Co. in 1809. Was 1st lieutenant gov. of Illinois in 1818.

Merriam, Charles 1806 - 1887:

Printer. Acquired rights to Noah Webster's An American Dictionary after the death of Webster.

Merridith, Willim Morris

Secretary of the Treasury 1849-50. Practiced law in Philadelphia.

Mill, John Stuart 1806 - 1873:


Miller, William 1782 - 1849:

Leader of a sect which predicted the imminent end of the world; especially prevalent in Western New York state. Born in Pittsfield, MA.

Mills, Clark 1815 - 1883:

Made the bronze equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson which faces the White House.

Mills, Robert 1781 - 1855:

Architect who designed the Treasury building, General Post Office, and Patent Office buildings. Born in Charleston, SC.

Minie, Claude Etienne.1814-1879:

Inventor of a system of rifle and conical lead bullet that expands on the gun firing to press against the rifling so as to build up spin. Advantage being the bullets did not have to fit tightly in the gun. These bullets turned out to inflict terrible wounds in the Civil War.

Mitchel, Ormsby MacKnight 1809 - 1862:

A member of the West Point class of 1829, he resigned the army in 1832 to become a teacher, which he was, at Cincinnati College from 1836-59. Studied and wrote about astronomy, and directed the Dudley Observatory in Albany, NY from 1859-61. During the civil war he rose to be a major general, but died in 1862 of yellow fever.

Mitchell, Donald Grant 1822 - 1908:

Wrote -- largely sentimental essays, under the pseudonym "Ik Marvel". See Jacksonian Miscellanies #51, which quotes a critical view from Ann Dougles' Feminization of American Culture, and provides a substantial excerpt from one of his works: Reveries of a Bachelor. DAB describes him as "agriculturalist, landscape gardner, and author".

Mitchell, Elisha 1793 - 1857:

Botanist and geologist, especially in the North Carolina mountains. Born in Washington, CT.

Mitchell, Nahum 1769 - 1853:

Practiced law, but best known for his work with others on the collection of church music Columbian and European Harmony: or Bridgewater Collection of Sacred Music in 1812. Born in Bridgewater, CT.

Mitchell, Samuel Augustus 1792 - 1868:

Author of Mitchell's Geographic Reader (1840) and other geographical works. Lived in Philadelphia. Born in Briston, CT.

Moncrieff, William Thomas 1794 - 1857:

A popular British dramatist. Largely comic works.

Monroe, James 1758 - 1831:

b. Apr. 28, 1758. d. July 4, 1831
5th president of the U.S., from 1817-1824. More to be added later, of course.

Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de 1533 - 1592:

Most important originator of the personal essay, or belles lettres. He explored himself, and looked skeptically at his society, and open-mindedly at the exotic new societies being discovered in the age of exploration in which he lived.

Montesquieu, Baron 1689 - 1755:

(Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu, title of Charles de Secondat). An important French Enlightenment political thinker (though perhaps more sympathetic to the British Enlightenment).

First gained prominence as the author of Persian Letters (1721), a critique of western Christian society, written as if by Persian Islamic visitors. His most influential work was The Spirit of the Laws, written in 1748.

Moody, Paul 1779 - 1831:

Inventor of improved spinning and weaving machines which were put to use at Waltham and Lowell, MA. Worked with Francis Lowell. Born in Newbury, MA.

MOORE, Gabriel, 1785-1845

U.S. Representative for Alabama 1821-29; Ala. Governor 1829-31; Senator 1833-1837. Began as Jacksonian; ended as anti-Jacksonian.

Born in Stokes County, N.C., around 1785; pursued an academic course and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1810; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1810 and commenced practice in Huntsville, Mississippi Territory; member, Mississippi and then Alabama Territorial house of representatives and served as speaker in 1817; delegate to the Alabama State constitutional convention in 1819; member, Alabama State senate 1819-1820, and served as speaker in 1820; elected to the Seventeenth and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1821-March 3, 1829); was not a candidate for renomination in 1828; Governor of Alabama 1829-1831; elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1831, to March 3, 1837; chairman, Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Twenty-second through Twenty-fourth Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for election in 1836 to the Twenty-fifth Congress; moved to Caddo, Tex., in 1843, where he is thought to have died in 1845.


DAB; Martin, John M. “The Early Career of Gabriel Moore.” Alabama Historical Quarterly 29 (Fall & Winter 1967): 89-105; Martin, John M. ‘The Senatorial Career of Gabriel Moore.’ Alabama Historical Quarterly 26 (Summer 1964): 249-81.

Source: Biog. Dir. of Am. Congress.

Moore, Jacob Bailey 1797 - 1853:

Librarian of NH Historical Society and the New York Historical Society. Wrote various historical works.

Morgan, Charles 1795 - 1878:

A shipper and railroad magnate based in New Orleans. Established several steamboat lines from that city, and purchased railroads in Texas and Louisiana. Monopolized shipping of all sorts in the Gulf area.

Morgan, Edwain Barber 1806 - 1881:

Merchant involved in the express business, and specifically in Wells Fargo. Contributed heavily to Wells College and Auburn Theological Seminary. Born in Aurora NY.

Morgan, Junius Spencer 1813 - 1890:

Widely successful New York banker. President of J.S. Morgan and Co; formerly George Peabody and Co., from 1864 - 90. Father of John Pierpont Morgan.

Morgan, William (1774? - 1826):

A stonemason and disgruntled member of the Freemasons, who wrote a book exposing the secrets of Fremasonry, called Illustrations of Masonry.

Before it got to press, Morgan was subjected to several forms of legal harrassment, was witnessed being led off by force somewhere, and disappeared, in September 1826.

This led to a growing storm of indignation about the Masons being a secret organization of (largely) prominent and wealthy men sworn to protect one another, and not to reveal a confidence of a fellow Mason, even if it were a crime.

An Anti-Masonic Party was formed, twenty or thirty members sent to the state legislature, a few dozen Anti-Masonic newspapers founded, and in 1832, the Anti-Masonic party was the first political party to hold a national nominating convention (in this they were copied later that year by the major parties).

Morrill, Justin Smith 1810 - 1898:

Vermont merchant and member of House and Senate. Born Strafford, VT.

Morris, Charles 1784 - 1856:

Was on the Board of Naval Commissioners for most of the years from 1823-41, and commandant of Boston Navy Yard 1827-32. Considered a superb and tactful administrator.

Morris, George Pope 1802 - 1864:

Founded New York Mirror and Ladies' Literary Gazette in 1824 and edited it until 1842. Edited the Evening Mirror from 1844, and the Home Journal from 1846. Besides his editorial career in Philadelphia, he published many of his own poems.

Morris, Samuel Finley Breese 1791 - 1872:


Morris, Sidney Edwards 1794 - 1871:

Like his brother, S.F.B. Morse, and inventor as well as a publisher and editor of the New York Observer. Inventions in the field of printing, and deep sea exploration. Publications include the Cerographic Atlas of the United States (1842-45), and other "Cerographic" atlases based on a technique he developed. Born in Charlestown, MA

Morse, Jedediah 1761 - 1826:

One of the most fiercely conservative New England Congregational ministers. Helped force the Unitarians to formally leave the Congregational society. Serbed Charlestown, congregation from 1789 - 1819. Also known, for his teaching and several books, as the "Father of American Geography". Born in Woodstock, CT.

Morse, Samuel Finly Breese 1791 - 1872:

Produced the first successful electronic telegraph.

He was also a painter of great talent, especially for portraits, and founder and first president (1826-42) of the National Academy of Design. His "The Old House of Representatives" is seen on Freelings's Road to Disunion.

Morton, Samuel George 1799 - 1851:

Naturalist, anthropologist, and medical doctor. Born in Philadelphia.

Motley, John Lothrop 1814 - 1877:

Harvard class of 1831. (age 17) A diplomat and historical writer.

Mott, James 1788 - 1868:

A Philadelphia merchant from 1822 - 52, and ardent abolitionist who, with his wife Lucretia, helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. Helped out in the underground railway as well, after 1850. Born in N. Hempstead, Long Island.

Mott, Lucretia Coffin 1793 - 1880:

Crusader for abolition; also women's rights (especially from 1848 on). Also a Quaker missionary, and wife of James Mott. Born in Nantucket, MA

Mott, Valentine 1785 - 1865:

Expert surgeon who also, after 1846, promoted the use of anaesthesia.

Mount, William Sidney 1807 - 1868:

Best known as a "genre painter" with a lightly humorous quality, painting scenes of rural life; dances, hoing fields, etc. Used in cover art for How the Irish Became White. He had beautiful crisp draftmanship, and took great pains about getting skin tones right, including those of African Americans. His paintings of black Americans also showed a dignity rare for artistic treatments of blacks by whites in his day.

Grew up on Long Island, and lived most of his life there; spending some time, however, in New York. Most of his works are in one collection, at the Suffolk Museum at Stony Brook, NY (long Island).

Mowatt, Anna Cora Ogden 1819 - 1870:

Born to a New York businessman, living, at the time, in Bordeaux, France; she lived there til age seven, when the family moved back to New York. Married James Mowatt on 10/6/1834. (Source: DAB). Her most important work was Fashion: or Life in New York, which satirized New York's nouveau riche. It was first produced at the Park Theatre, New York, on 3/24/1845.

Murrell, John A. 1804 - 1844:

A sort of early "organized crime boss", one of whose specialties was stealing slaves. Captured in 1834 and sentenced for ten years.

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