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John Sergeant (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other persons named John Sergeant, see John Sergeant (disambiguation)
John Sergeant
Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
In office
Preceded byFrancis Thomas
Succeeded byDaniel D. Barnard
In office
Preceded byHugh Nelson
Succeeded byHugh Nelson
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania
In office
March 4, 1837 – September 15, 1841
Preceded byJoseph Ingersoll
Succeeded byJoseph Ingersoll
Constituency2nd district
In office
March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Preceded byThomas Kittera
Succeeded byDaniel H. Miller
Constituency2nd district
In office
October 10, 1815 – March 3, 1823
Preceded byJonathan Williams
Succeeded bySamuel Breck
Constituency1st district, Seat D
Personal details
Born(1779-12-05)December 5, 1779
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedNovember 23, 1852(1852-11-23) (aged 72)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyFederalist (Before 1828)
National Republican (1828–1834)
Whig (1834–1852)
Spouse(s)Margaretta Watmough
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania
Princeton University (BA)

John Sergeant (December 5, 1779 – November 23, 1852) was an American politician who represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives. He was the National Republican Party's vice presidential nominee in the 1832 presidential election, serving on a ticket with Senator Henry Clay.

After graduating from Princeton University, Sergeant served in the Philadelphia government and won election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. As a member of the Federalist Party, he won election to the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1815 to 1823. In Congress, he supported Clay's American System and opposed the extension of slavery, voting against the Missouri Compromise.

After serving as president of the Pennsylvania Board of Canal Commissioners, Sergeant returned to Congress in 1827. He lost his 1829 re-election campaign and became a legal counsel for the Second Bank of the United States. In the 1832 presidential election, the ticket of Clay and Sergeant was soundly defeated by the Democratic ticket of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. After the election, Sergeant joined the Whig Party and again returned to Congress, serving from 1837 to 1841. He was also the president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1838. He retired from public office in 1841 and resumed his law practice.

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  • ✪ Swedes not Sweden to Finland's Rescue - WW2 - 021 - January 19 1940
  • ✪ John Stonehouse and Dropped Trousers: Citation Needed 7x05


Yeah Ye there's even a Jamaican guy Okay January 19, 1940 One of the largest nations in history attacked a foe a tiny fraction of its size. That foe fought back and fought back well, but the battle will continue, though that foe is no longer alone. Here come the volunteers. I’m Indy Neidell; this is World War Two. Last week, the Motti Battles, Finnish attacks against surrounded Red Army units, began in earnest. The Soviets had shaken up both their chain of command and their basic tactics though, and were gearing up for a major offensive. Both the Allies and Germany were thinking of violating Norwegian neutrality, and Adolf Hitler made plans for an attack in Western Europe this week, but those plans fell into Belgian hands in the Michelen Incident. And the Belgians are anything but happy about it. On the 15th, they protest to the Germans- they do not wish to again be a battlefield. The British and French believe that they will be asked or invited to move troops into Belgium now to prepare for a German attack, but Belgium still says no way José. As for that attack, on the afternoon of the 13th (Gilbert), a possibility of fog causes Hitler to delay it until the 20th, but that evening it becomes clear to Berlin that the Dutch and Belgians have begun to mobilize, which makes sense, and it is also soon clear that even beyond the Michelen Incident, there is an intelligence leak. It is in fact, Colonel Hans Oster, who we’ve mentioned before, Deputy Chief of German Secret Service, who gave details of the attack to the Dutch attaché in Berlin, who in turn sent them by coded message to Brussels. The Germans had cracked the Belgian codes, though, so they now know there was a leak, just not who. Still, it is not this, but the weather forecast on the 16th- just before the postponed preliminary bombing is now supposed to begin, that causes Hitler to again cancel the plan. He wants at least eight straight days of clear weather and calls the attack off until the spring. He also orders a military committee to think about action in the far north in Norway, to possibly use Narvik or Trondheim as U-Boat bases, which will also completely secure the vital Swedish iron ore there from Allied interference. This is codenamed Research N. As for the Allies, General Edmund Ironside, Chief of the British Imperial General Staff, thinks that sending at least a brigade to help the Finns in their war will justify taking the Norwegian ports themselves. He thinks mining Norwegian waters, and the occupation of Bergen and Stavanger should happen no later than March 20th. He wants at least five divisions for this, with bomber and fighter support. But aid from the west for the Finns is actually beginning to arrive, as are volunteers. In fact, the Soviets protest strongly to the Swedes on the 13th for allowing British volunteers to pass through neutral Sweden. The protest is to no avail and the Swedes let the volunteers pass, provided they wear no uniforms, are unarmed, and are not in active service with an Allied army. By the beginning of 1940, there were hundreds of “Help Finland” projects at work in Sweden, and though an awful lot of people wanted to help, it was a trickier situation with the Swedish government. Offering enough aid to make an actual difference would seriously compromise neutrality. Direct intervention could mean hostility from the USSR, or Germany, or both. They are maybe being oversensitive in terms of the Germans. I mean, Hitler is probably not going to allow a Soviet state to take root five minutes flying time from Germany- especially one that controls the ore that Germany needs for its own war effort. Anyhow, if the Swedes send aid, that will only prolong the winter war and keep Stalin occupied and unable to interfere in any of Hitler’s plans, so for Hitler that’d be a good thing. William Trotter thinks the Swedish population would’ve overwhelmingly voted to go to war if they’d had the chance, and when Foreign Minister Rickard Sandler called Swedish official policy “neutrality carried to the point of pure idiocy” in the Parliament, he got a standing ovation. He actually left the government last month because of differences over what Sweden should or should not do for Finland. He is very much in favor of actively helping the Finns. Sweden does top the list in foreign aid to the Finns, though, supplying 100 machine guns, 89 artillery pieces, 77,000 rifles, 85 AA guns, and 8,000 volunteers, many of whom will see action. Germany did actually allow weapons to pass through en route to Finland until a Swedish newspaper ran the story, and when Soviet diplomats complained, Hitler’s policy toward Finland became silence. The USSR propaganda machine keeps doing its business, telling the world that Finland is the real aggressor- cause that makes sense, claiming that the Kuusinen government I talked about December 1st is the legitimate Finnish government, and that Carl Gustav Mannerheim, who commands the Finnish armed forces, is enslaving the Finnish workers. It is, in fact, so ludicrous that tiny Finland could be a threat to gigantic Russia that most of the world’s communists choose to sit this one out. Actually, here’s a good quote from Trotter about what was happening during the January lull in the fighting on the Karelian Isthmus, “The Russians began using loudspeaker trucks to broadcast propaganda programs toward Finnish lines. The Finns started looking forward to them, since the music was refreshing and the red artillery had orders to cease firing during the playing of Kuusinen’s speeches so the Finns would not miss a word.” They actually use the speech time to run and have toilet breaks. The Red Army has changed its tactics after the disasters of December. Part of the new strategy is the heavy bombing of road and railway junctions to cripple Finnish movement, also of army depots and the docks. On just January 14th, for example, 35 towns are bombed. Thing is, what are you really going to bomb? 90% of Finland is rural wilderness. The rail centers of course are important and are bombed to smithereens this month, but one of the easiest transportation things to rebuild is a train track, so the trains are usually running again a few hours after the bombing. Helsinki isn’t much targeted after the first day of the war. Trotter suggests that this might partly be because the Soviets didn’t think it worth bombing if they might in addition wipe out some nation’s embassy or kill a bunch of foreign journalists. He writes that only 5% of total man hour production time was lost because of all the bombing, though it does make people very angry. About 650 Finns are killed in over 2,000 bombing raids. The Soviets hve success, however, at Turku harbor, where the most foreign aid arrives, and where they destroy nearly 80% of the docking facilities, and Viipuri, the second largest Finnish city, is pretty well flattened, mainly by railroad guns fired all the way from Leningrad. They also destroy Mannerheim’s HQ at Mikkeli. But while the airstrikes have mixed success, plans for the coming offensive on the Mannerheim Line are in full swing. Dozens of KV heavy tanks are brought in. These 43 ton monsters, with a 76.2 mm cannon, are pretty much invulnerable on decent ground. Tank doctrine is no longer going to be “break through way ahead of support and then wait and see what happens.” Tanks will have limited objectives and are under strict orders not to outpace infantry support. It’s the artillery that is to be the real killer, though. 2,800 heavy guns, including the huge railway guns- that will send massive shells into the Finnish rear. Balloon spotters protected by fighter planes will direct the artillery from high above the battlefield by radio. Well, that’s plans for the continuing invasion, what’s happening in places where the invasion is complete, like German occupied Poland? Andrzej Kott, the leader of PLAN, an underground organization in Warsaw (Gilbert), which translated is Polish People’s Independence Action, had been captured by the Gestapo. Kott is the son of parents who had converted from Judaism to Catholicism. He studied in England but returned to Poland at the beginning of the war and was one of the founders of PLAN and the head of the “fighting division”. Now, most of the PLAN leaders had been caught after its first few actions, but Kott has managed to escape Gestapo Headquarters. Tomorrow- the 20th- a poster will appear that promises a hefty reward for the “Jew” Andrzej Kott. But starting even before that on the 18th, dozens of people will be arrested in the Kott affair as a group of “terrorists”. It will not be until August that the Gestapo release two lists of the prisoners involved, with the heading, “A list of those arrested on January 18-25, 1940”. On one, with 165 names, the word dead is written at the top of the page; the word alive is typed on the second list of 90 names. Of these 255 people, 208 had professions listed; lawyers, doctors, rabbis, and so forth. Apparently though, the families of those listed as “alive” never see those individuals again. And here is a political note to end the week. On the 14th, Japanese Prime Minister Noboyuki Abe and his cabinet resign. He is a former general in the Imperial Army, the ex-Governor Genral of Korea and has only been PM for four months. He has been driving for an end to the Sino-Japanese War, and no alliance with Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, but instead neutrality and no involvement - he is ousted by his opponents, the hawks of the Imperial Army. Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai gets the nod to form a new government. So that was the week. The Germans calling off their plans for an attack in the west, even as the Soviets are beginning to put their new plan in action in the north, the Swedish government saying it’s not going to interfere with those plans, even as volunteers and supplies for the Finns stream through Sweden. There’s something uplifting about humanity that we see even during the toughest times. Well, especially in the toughest times. People always come to fight against the big guy. Even in the most repressive regimes in history, there have always been underground movements, resistance movements, volunteers against tyranny. I suppose that this is the indomitable nobility of the human spirit. Sure, it might sometimes disguise wide-eyed innocence, but it’s there. It’s always there. And it’s always refreshing. And as for neutrality, if you’d like to see our Between 2 Wars episode about some of the background to American isolationism and anti-globalism in the 20s and 30s, you can click right here for that. Out Patron of the week is David Lalonde. Viewer support on Patreon is what finances this show, if you’d like to also support us a link to Patreon is below. See you next time.


Personal life and education

Sergeant was born in Philadelphia, to Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant and Margaret Spencer. He came from a family of prominent politicians, including his father, his grandsons, John Sergeant Wise and Richard Alsop Wise, and his great-grandson, John Crain Kunkel.

Sergeant was educated in the common schools and at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. He graduated from Princeton College in 1795. He became a lawyer and, after being admitted to the bar in 1799, practiced law for fifty years.

Public service

In 1800 Sergeant became deputy attorney general for Philadelphia and then commissioner of bankruptcy for Pennsylvania the following year. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1808 to 1810. He was elected as a Federalist to the United States House of Representatives to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Jonathan Williams. He was re-elected three times, serving from October 10, 1815 to March 3, 1823, and managed to reach the position of chairman of the United States House Committee on the Judiciary. Sergeant was a strong backer of Henry Clay's American System and the Second Bank of the United States in Congress, and even traveled to Europe to negotiate loans to the Bank. He was also a strong opponent of slavery who voted against the Missouri Compromise. He then retired (albeit temporarily) from Congress.

In 1825, he was president of the Pennsylvania Board of Canal Commissioners. The following year, he was an envoy to the Panama Congress of 1826 but arrived after the Congress had concluded its discussions. He returned to the U.S. House of Representatives for the term starting March 4, 1827. He failed re-election to the following term and left Congress for the second time on March 3, 1829. He then became legal counsel to the Bank of the United States.

Vice Presidential Candidate

Sergeant was Henry Clay's running mate on the National Republican ticket during the 1832 presidential election but lost to Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in a landslide and again retreated from public life.

After his Vice Presidential candidacy, he returned as president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1838, and then was elected as a Whig to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served this last time from March 4, 1837 until he resigned on September 15, 1841, and again was chair of the Committee on the Judiciary for the 1837 – 1839 term. He returned to his law practice, declining offers of a cabinet or diplomatic position from the new Whig administration.

In 1844 he was considered for the Whig vice presidential nomination, to once again run with Clay, but at the convention lost out to Theodore Frelinghuysen.

Sergeant died in Philadelphia on November 23, 1852 and was interred at Laurel Hill Cemetery.


On June 23, 1813 he married Margaretta Watmough, daughter of James Horatio Watmough and Anna Carmick. With Margaretta he fathered ten children, all but one surviving infancy. His oldest daughter, also named Margaretta (June 26, 1814 – January 7, 1886) married Major General George Meade, Commander of the Union Army of the Potomac from the Battle of Gettysburg until the end of the Civil War. Another daughter, Sarah (September 24, 1817 – October 14, 1850) married Henry A. Wise. His youngest son, William (August 29, 1829 – April 11, 1865) served in the Civil War and was mortally wounded at the Battle of White Oak Road.


  • United States Congress. "John Sergeant (id: S000246)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • The Political Graveyard
  • [1] Accessed October 26, 2008
  • [2] Accessed October 26, 2008
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jonathan Williams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district
Seat D

Succeeded by
Samuel Breck
Preceded by
Hugh Nelson
Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Hugh Nelson
Preceded by
Thomas Kittera
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Daniel H. Miller
Preceded by
Joseph Ingersoll
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Joseph Ingersoll
Preceded by
Francis Thomas
Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Daniel D. Barnard
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Gregg
Federalist nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Party dissolved
Preceded by
Richard Rush
National Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
This page was last edited on 16 June 2019, at 15:34
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