John Palmer Usher
7th United States Secretary of the Interior
January 1, 1863 – May 15, 1865
Preceded by Caleb Blood Smith Succeeded by James Harlan
Born January 16, 1816
Brookfield, New York, USA
Died April 13, 1889
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Political party Republican Profession Politician, Lawyer
John Palmer Usher (January 16, 1816 – April 13, 1889) was a U.S. administrator who served in the Cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.
Born in Brookfield, New York, Usher trekked west in 1839 to locate in Terre Haute in western Indiana where he became a law partner with William D. Griswold in the firm of Griswold & Usher. An outstanding trial lawyer, Usher traveled the circuit in Indiana and Illinois during the 1840s and 1850s, becoming acquainted with Abraham Lincoln of Springfield, Illinois.
While Usher was serving as the elected Indiana state Attorney General in March 1862, Lincoln asked him to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Then-secretary Caleb Blood Smith had little interest in the job, and, with declining health, soon delegated most of his responsibilities to Usher. When Smith resigned in December 1862, Usher became Secretary effective January 1, 1863.
Usher served as United States Secretary of the Interior between 1863 and 1865. He was known as genial and courteous, but an unobtrusive secretary. When Andrew Johnson took office, Usher was the first cabinet member to be replaced.
Usher died of cancer at the age of 73.
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