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John J. Patterson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John James Patterson
John J. Patterson - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1879
Preceded byFrederick A. Sawyer
Succeeded byWade Hampton III
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Juniata and Union Counties
In office
January 4, 1859 – January 1, 1861
Preceded byThomas Bower
Succeeded byGeorge W. Strouse
Personal details
Born(1830-08-08)August 8, 1830
Waterloo, Juniata County, Pennsylvania
DiedSeptember 28, 1912(1912-09-28) (aged 82)
Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
Political partyRepublican
Military service
AllegianceUnited States of America
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1861–1865
UnitFifteenth U.S. (Regular) Infantry
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

John James "Honest John"[1] Patterson (August 8, 1830 – September 28, 1912) was a businessman and United States Senator from South Carolina. He was a Republican.


Born and raised in Waterloo, a populated place in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, he attended public schools and then Jefferson College in Canonsburg. During the 1850s he engaged in newspaper and banking businesses in Pennsylvania; he published the Juniata Sentinel in 1852 and in 1853 became editor and part owner of the Harrisburg Telegraph in Harrisburg, the state capital. He first entered politics in 1859 when he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, in which he served until 1861 when the Civil War began.

He joined the United States Army and served as a captain in the Fifteenth U.S. (regular) Infantry. He also ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1862, but lost.

After the war Patterson moved to Columbia, South Carolina and engaged in railroad construction. He again entered politics and in 1873 was elected by the South Carolina Legislature to the U.S. Senate as a Republican.

He was criticized by many in South Carolina for being a carpetbagger.[a] Patterson was the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor from 1875 to 1877 and a member of the committee on territories from 1877 to 1879. By the time his term ended in 1879, Reconstruction had ended and the Democrats had taken nearly all power in South Carolina, so Patterson had no hope of reelection.[a]

After leaving the Senate he continued to live in Washington, D.C. and engaged in financial enterprises. In 1886, he moved to Mifflintown, Pennsylvania where he lived until his death. He continued to be active in business, particularly in running a company that installed electric lightbulbs. He died on September 28, 1912. He is buried in the Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery.


  1. ^ a b According to one history of South Carolina published in 1920, concerning the 1872–74 term of Governor Franklin J. Moses, Jr., "the story is fairly well authenticated that John J. Patterson … in the midst of the Moses carnival of crime, boasted that 'there are still five years of good stealing in South Carolina'." The authors asserted that "Patterson controlled the most money and bought his way into [the Senate]" and that someone later testified he had stated it "cost him more than $40,000".[2]


  1. ^ "Carolina Vultures: How Honest John Patterson was elected senator". The Sun (New York). Columbia, S.C. (published December 16, 1872). December 12, 1872. p. 1 col. 3. Jno. J. Patterson, commonly known in these parts as 'Honest John,' who planted himself solidly on the platform of United States promises to pay, and boldly avowed his intention to buy his way into the Senate.
    Although the OCR version is illegible and you must read the scanned images, this is a very entertaining account of the election, featuring "Patterson then expressed strong doubts about the respectability of the maternal ancestor of the magistrate. The magistrate fled, leaving Patterson and Hurley masters of the situation. But this was not the end of the matter. The flying magistrate, after invoking the aid of the police and being reinforced by sundry members of that force, returned to the field, and after a little deliberation came to the conclusion that the court had been the subject of contempt, which so far as Hurley and Patterson were concerned was eminently true." Several paragraphs later, "But this was by no means the final act in the farce."
  2. ^ Snowden, Yates; Cutler, Harry Gardner (1920). "History of South Carolina". Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. pp. 913, 915. Retrieved December 9, 2014.

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Frederick A. Sawyer
 U.S. senator (Class 3) from South Carolina
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1879
Served alongside: Thomas J. Robertson, Matthew Butler
Succeeded by
Wade Hampton, III
This page was last edited on 27 January 2021, at 03:06
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