John Adams Dix

John Adams Dix was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire on July 24, 1798, son of Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Dix, Jr., a prominent merchant who died in the War of 1812. Young Dix was educated in the classics and in Spanish and French. At the age of fourteen, he fought at Lundy's Lane as an ensign, a commission which his father aided him in obtaining. Dix remained in the army until 1828, meanwhile studying law and obtaining admission to the District of Columbia bar. He settled in Cooperstown, New York, to manage his father-in-law's properties and soon became distinguished as county leader of the Jacksonian Democracy, adjutant general of the state, secretary of state, state school superintendent, and a leading member of the powerful Albany Regency which controlled the state by means of the "spoils system." After a trip abroad in 1843, Dix was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1845 to fill an unexpired term and served until 1849. While in the Senate he advocated the free-soil policies which a decade later carried him out of the Democratic party. After ten uneventful years, during which he acted as president of two different railroads and practiced law in New York, Dix was appointed city postmaster by President James Buchanan, to clean up a defalcation scandal; soon after, in the last months of the administration, he was made Secretary of the Treasury. In this office, with the Civil War impending, Dix fired off a telegram to a harried Treasury official in New Orleans: "If anyone attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot." With Abraham Lincoln as President, Dix was commissioned a major general of volunteers to rank from May 16, 1861, first on the list—as such he outranked all other volunteer officers until the end of the war. At sixty-three General Dix was considered too old for field service and performed department and garrison duties during the war, his most important and distinguished contribution being the suppression of the New York draft riots in 1863. Resigning in November, 1865, he served as minister to France during 1866-69 and in 1872 was elected governor of New York. Defeated for reelection in 1874 by Samuel J. Tilden, he spent his last years-in retirement and died in New York City on April 21, 1879. He was buried in Trinity Cemetery there.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.