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Page 8

Thomas M'Kean


   In the following year, the legislature of Pennsylvania took measures for calling a convention, to consider in what respects their state constitution required alteration and amendment. This convention commenced its session on the 24th of November, 1789; Mr. M'Kean appeared and took his seat as a delegate from the city of Philadelphia. When the convention resolved itself into a committee of the whole, on the subject of altering or amending the constitution, he was appointed chairman. During the whole of the deliberations, he presided with great dignity and ability, for which he received the unanimous thanks of the convention. In 1779, Mr. M'Kean was elected to the chief magistracy of the state of Pennsylvania. His competitor at this time, was the able and distinguished James Ross. Mr. M'Kean belonged to the politics of Mr. Jefferson, to whose elevation to the presidency of the United States, his election is supposed to have powerfully contributed. The administration of Mr. M'Kean was marked with ability, and with ultimate benefit to the state; yet the numerous removals from office of his political opponents, produced great excitement in the state, and, perhaps, upon the whole, betrayed, on his part, an unjustifiable degree of political asperity.
   During the years 1807 and 1808, through the influence of a number of the citizens of the city and county of Philadelphia, an inquiry was instituted by the legislature into the official conduct of Governor M'Kean. The committee appointed for this purpose reported to the legislature:

   "I. That the governor did, premeditatedly, wantonly, unjustly, and contrary to the true intent and meaning of the constitution, render void the late election, (in 1806,) of a sheriff in the city and county of Philadelphia.
   "II. That he usurped a judicial authority, in issuing a warrant for the arrest and imprisonment of Joseph Cabrera; and interfered in favour of a convict for forgery, in defiance of the law, and contrary to the wholesome regulations of the prison in Philadelphia, and the safety of the citizens.
   "III. That, contrary to the true intent and meaning of the constitution, and in violation of it, did he appoint Dr. George Buchanan lazaretto physician of the port of Philadelphia.
   "IV. That, under a precedent, acknowledged to have been derived from the king of Great Britain, and contrary to the express letter of the constitution, did he suffer his name to be stamped upon blank patents, warrants on the treasury, and other official papers, and that, too, out of his presence.
   "V. That, contrary to law, did he supersede Dr. James Reynolds as a member of the board of health.
   "'VI. That, contrary to the obligations of duty, and the injunctions of the constitution, did he offer and authorize overtures to be made to discontinue two actions of the commonwealth against William Duane and his surety, for an alleged forfeiture of two recognizances of one thousand dollars each, on condition that William Duane would discontinue civil actions against his son Joseph B. M'Kean, and others, for damages for a murderous assault, committed by Joseph M'Kean, and others, on William Duane."

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Last modified September 27, 2005