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Isaac E. Crary

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Isaac Edwin Crary (October 2, 1804 – May 8, 1854) was an American politician. He was the first elected U.S. Representative from the state of Michigan.

Early life

Crary was born in Preston, Connecticut, where he attended the public schools and graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, in its first class in 1827. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and commenced practice in Hartford. During this time he was also assistant editor of the New England Weekly Review. He moved to Marshall, Michigan, in 1833.


Crary was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1835 and upon the admission of Michigan as a state into the Union, he was elected on October 5 and 6, 1835, as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-fourth Congress. Due to Michigan’s dispute with Ohio over the Toledo Strip (see the Toledo War), Congress refused to accept his credentials and he was seated as a delegate until Congress admitted Michigan as a state of the Union on January 26, 1837. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses, and served until March 3, 1841.
In 1840, during the William Henry Harrison 1840 presidential campaign, on February 14, 1840, as the House of Representatives debated funding for the Cumberland Road, Crary essayed an attack on Harrison's record as an Indian fighter, deeming him a bogus hero. Crary sat down to applause from his fellow Democrats. But the next day, Ohio's Thomas Corwin, known as a humorist, rose in the House, and depicted Crary, a militia general in his home state, having to deal with the terrors of the militia's parade day, until afterwards, safe with the survivors, "your general unsheathes his trenchant blade ... and with an energy and remorseless fury he slices the watermelons that lie in heaps around him." As word reached newspapers in February and March, there was much amusement across the nation; Crary failed to be renominated to Congress.
He served as regent of the University of Michigan from 1837 to 1844, and with John D. Pierce wrote the education article of the 1835 constitution.Willis F. Dunbar and George S. May, Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (Grand Rapids: Eerdman's 1995), p. 282. Crary was appointed a member of the State board of education from 1820 to 1852. Crary and Pierce planned Michigan's public school system and established a separate department of education run by a superintendent, introducing uniform schooling in Michigan.
He was editor of the Marshall Expounder for several years and a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1842 to 1846, serving as speaker of the house in 1846.


Crary died in Marshall, Michigan and is interred at Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall.


Isaac E. Crary Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan and Isaac E. Crary Middle School in Waterford, Michigan were named in his honor.
  • {{cite booklast=Gundersonfirst=Robert Graytitle=The Log Cabin Campaignyear=1957publisher=University of Kentucky Presslocation=Lexington, Kentuckyoclc=964644ref=

  • Further reading

  • Historic Michigan, land of the Great Lakes; its life, resources, industries, people, politics, government, wars, institutions, achievements, the press, schools and churches, legendary and prehistoric lore. Fuller, George N. ed. (George Newman), 1873-1957. Dayton, Ohio National Historical Association 1924. p. 350
  • External links

    • The Political Graveyard
    • Isaac Crary and John Pierce / State School System

    Category:1804 births
    Category:1854 deaths
    Category:Speakers of the Michigan House of Representatives
    Category:Members of the Michigan House of Representatives
    Category:Members of the United States House of Representatives from Michigan
    Category:Regents of the University of Michigan
    Category:People from Marshall, Michigan
    Category:People from Preston, Connecticut
    Category:Michigan Jacksonians
    Category:Michigan Democrats
    Category:Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives
    Category:Burials in Michigan
    Category:19th-century American politicians
    Category:Trinity College (Connecticut) alumni

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