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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Hon. Charles P. McClelland


IT is frequently a matter of comment why it is that so few born Scots take an active interest in American politics. It is generally admitted that there are circumstances abounding in the political arena that do not appeal to the self-reliant spirit characteristic of the typical Scot. But whether it is better to stand aloof from a condition that is capable of improvement, or to take a hand in rectifying the shortcomings, is a question which each man must answer for himself. When the Scot does gird his armour on, and champions the cause of better government, he invariably leaves the impress of his personality on public affairs. John Witherspoon, President of Princeton College, was an admirable example in the early days of the American Republic. In our day, James Beck, Senator for many years from Kentucky, and General David B. Henderson, Speaker of Congress, would both likely have been President, had they been born in America. James Wilson, of Iowa, was Secretary of Agriculture for nearly twenty yea rs and David McAdam was the most industrious member of the Supreme Court that ever graced the bench in the State of New York.

Hon. Charles P. McClelland, United States General Appraiser, is an admirable example of the cultured, resourceful Scot, going into politics unaided and alone in his early manhood, and immediately gaining the recognition due to superior intelligence, and passing, it may be said, from the narrowing sphere of partisan politics to the higher plane of constructive statesmanship, and winning golden opinions from all sorts of men. Much of his marked success is due to his native eloquence, clear and convincing, and graced with a quiet humour at once subtle and delightful, superadded to a knowledge of law, thorough and comprehensive.

Mr. McClelland is from Wigtonshire. He studied law in New York University, graduating LL.B. in 1882. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1885, and again in 1886. His eminent qualities brought him into notice, and he was offered many positions, and served as Deputy Collector of Customs in New York from 1886 to 1890. In 1891, he was again in the Assembly and served on the most important Committees, being Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means. In 1892, he was elected to the State Senate. Meanwhile, his law practice had increased to such proportions that he withdrew for a brief time from politics, but was again urged to enter the Senate, which he did, being elected in 1902.

In 1903, he was appointed by President Roosevelt as United States General Appraiser, and the appointment was immediately confirmed by the United State Senate, the appointment being a life term. His office is at 641 Washington Street, New York City.

In spite of his marked success as a lawyer and statesman, Mr. McClelland has lost none of his delightful Scottish characteristics. As President of some of the leading Scottish Societies, he has the rare faculty of drawing out all that is best and brightest in the expatriated Scot. As a reader of Burns’ poems he has few equals. He has the mastery of versification with a tender gracefulness that ever looks lovingly back to the grand old land, which he revisits as often as his duties will permit. He is an admirable example of the best type of Scot, who cherishes the love of the old land, superadded to which is an intense admiration for the land in which he lives. He has a fine home at Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson, where, with his accomplished wife and interesting family, he is looked upon as a genial and public-spirited gentleman of the best type by all who have the honour of his acquaintance.

Mrs. McClelland is a native American. Two sons: The oldest, George W., is Assistant Professor of English Literature in the University of Pennsylvania. He married Mildred Child, of Troy. N. Y., and resides in Philadelphia. The other, Rev. Clarence P., is a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and married Mary Elizabeth Adams, of Philadelphia. They have two children, a son and daughter, and reside at Peekskill, N. Y. Two daughters: Myra Belle and Meta Josephine. The latter married Louis De Voursney Day and resides at East Orange, N. J. They have one son.


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