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John W. Geary: Mayor, General, Governor


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964503.jpg

 

1869

White Metal

 

I've always been interested in early campaign pieces, but I've never dipped a toe into the water until now. I've been collecting early San Francisco pieces lately, so a medal with John W. Geary, first mayor of San Francisco (1850-1851) and namesake of Geary Blvd in San Francisco caught my attention. I don't know that I'm ready to go much further, but I like this particular piece. Geary made his mark in the Pennsylvania militia in the Mexican-American War both figuratively and literally--he was wounded 10 times in battle. After the war, President Polk appointed him postmaster in San Francisco where he became the city's alcalde and then mayor when California became a state. He remains the youngest mayor in the city's long history. He returned to Pennsylavania when his wife fell ill. Following her death, he declined appointment as governor of the Utah Territory but later accepted an appointment as the governor of the Kansas Territory. He had a distinguished career in the army during the Civil War (one lone exception when he inadvertently marched his men off the Gettysburg battlefield when he became lost) and lost his son (who died in his arms) where upon the rage led him to prevail in an otherwise lost battle. He was wounded on several occasions and knocked unconscious by a cannonball. I presume the reference on the reverse to his voting indicates that he did not avoid the hard votes just as he fought on the lines with his men in the midst of battle. This medal is from his re-election campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania.

 

The Matthew Brady photography of the general:

 

John_W._Geary_-_Brady-Handy.jpg

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