Zachariah Chandler biography

Zachariah Chandler

U.S. Congressperson

1813 – 1879


Who was Zachariah Chandler?

Zachariah Chandler was Mayor of Detroit, a four-term U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan, and Secretary of the Interior under U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. Secretary Chandler, in compliance with President Grant's recommendations and authority, implemented massive reform in the Department of Interior during his tenure in office. Previous Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano, was not a reformer, and had carelessly allowed profiteering to spread throughout the Interior Department. Secretary Chandler fired corrupt agents at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and fired and replaced the Indian Commissioner and Bureau Clerk. In addition, Secretary Chandler banned "Indian Attorneys" from the Interior Department, who swindled Indian tribes into paying for bogus representation in Washington D.C. Secretary Chandler fully endorsed President Grant's Peace Policy initiative to civilize American Indian tribes.

Chandler, raised and educated in New Hampshire, moved to Detroit in 1833 where he became a prominent businessman and leading politician. Chandler, a Presbyterian, was strongly against slavery from his youth, and he financially supported the Underground Railroad. After serving as a Whig Party Mayor of Detroit, Chandler was instrumental in the formation of the Republican Party. In 1857, Chandler was elected U.S. Senator from Michigan serving until March 3, 1875. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, Senator Chandler was a leading Radical Republican, advocating strong prosecution of the Union War effort, the end of slavery, and civil rights for freedman African Americans. After the Panic of 1873, Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives and Senator Chandler had lost reelection. In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Chandler Secretary of Interior in order to clean up corruption left behind by previous Grant appointee Secretary Columbus Delano. Chandler served as Republican Party Committee Chairman in both 1868 and 1876, having elected both President Grant and President Rutherford B. Hayes. In 1879, Chandler was elected U.S. Senator and was a potential Presidential candidate, however, he suddenly died after giving a speech in Chicago. Although the nation was looking toward North and South reconciliation and blacks were becoming disenfranchised, Chandler remained a lifelong advocate of civil rights.


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Dec 10, 1813
  • Presbyterianism
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • New Hampshire
Nov 1, 1879

on July 23, 2013

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