Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Louis McLane (1833–1834): Secretary of State

Louis McLane was born May 28, 1786, in Smyrna, Delaware. He joined the U.S. Navy, serving for one year on the U.S.S. Philadelphia (beginning in 1798) before entering Newark College (1799). He left school to study law privately and was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1807. McLane volunteered for the Wilmington Artillery Company during the War of 1812; following the war, he was elected as a Jeffersonian Republican to U.S. House of Representatives (1817-1827) and the Senate (1827-1829).

President Andrew Jackson appointed him minister plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain (1829-1831) and secretary of the treasury (1831-1833). McLane would also serve Jackson as secretary of state and would conduct a thorough reorganization of the State Department during his time there (1833-1834).

Following his tenure in the cabinet, McLane became president of the Morris Canal & Banking Company of New York, and president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He reprised his role as minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain during the administration of President James Polk (1845-1846). McLane would serve as a delegate to the Maryland constitutional convention in 1850 before dying in Baltimore on October 7, 1857.

For further reading:

Munroe, John A. Louis McLane: Federalist and Jacksonian. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1973.