, Pennsylvania , United States
|| August 29, 1780
|Died||July 30, 1859
May 30, 2008 05:26pm
|Info||Richard Rush (August 29, 1780–July 30, 1859) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the second son (and third child) of Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and Julia (Stockton) Rush. He entered the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton College) at the age of 14, and graduated in 1797 as the youngest member of his class. He was admitted to the bar in 1800, when he was barely 20 years old, and studied law at the office of William Lewis. He married Catherine Eliza Murray on August 29, 1809, and fathered ten children, of whom three sons and two daughters survived him. |
He enjoyed a cultivated childhood; during his life he was a statesman, diplomat, widely-praised orator and key figure in two Administrations (James Madison and John Quincy Adams), and carved a distinguished career in public affairs in his own right. Quickly gaining statewide then national attention as a public speaker and successful trial lawyer, Rush was appointed Attorney General of the United States in Pennsylvania in 1811, after refusing to be a candidate for Congress. In November of the same year, President James Madison made him Comptroller of the Treasury.
From this relatively subordinate position, Rush functioned as one of President Madison's closest friends and confidential advisors throughout the War of 1812. In 1814 he was offered the choice of Secretary of the Treasury or Attorney General, and choosing the latter, serving until 1817 when, as Acting Secretary of State until the return of John Quincy Adams from Europe, Rush concluded the Rush-Bagot Convention, demilitarizing the Canadian boundary on the Great Lakes.
In October 1817, Rush was appointed Minister to Britain to succeed John Quincy Adams, who had taken the position of Secretary of State upon his return. His "gentlemanly" attitude was appreciated by the British, and he remained there for nearly eight years, proving singularly effective in negotiating a number of important treaties, including the Anglo-American Convention of 1818.
He became surprisingly popular in England, despite his previous anti-British record.
Upon the election of John Quincy Adams in 1825, Rush (having made a study of Britain, and the British Navy in particular, while he was there) desired to become the Secretary of the Navy. Adams, however, immediately nominated him for the post of 8th Secretary of the Treasury, which he accepted. In this office he which he served with remarkable success during the entire Adams Administration from March 7, 1825 until March 5, 1829. Notably, he turned over to his successor a large treasury surplus, and nearly the whole of the public debt was paid.
In 1828, he was a candidate for Vice President on the re-election ticket with John Quincy Adams, but was defeated. After leaving the Treasury Department, he was sent to England and Holland by the cities of Georgetown and Alexandria to negotiate a large loan for the cities, a mission which met with prompt success.
In 1836, President Andrew Jackson sent him to England as Commissioner to secure for the United States the legacy left the government by James Smithson. He was successful in this undertaking, bringing to this country the sum of $508,318.46, afterward used to establish the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
In 1847, Richard Rush was appointed as Minister to France by President James K. Polk, a position he held until 1851, when he returned to the land of his birth, to retire in Philadelphia. He there died on July 30, 1859.