William Harris Crawford, an American statesman, born in that part of Amherst co., Va., afterward erected into Nelson co., Feb. 24, 1772, died in Elbert co., Ga., Sept. 15, 1834. In 1779 his father removed to Edgefield district, S. C, about 30 miles above Augusta, Ga. In 1783 he again removed, crossing the Savannah river into Georgia, and settled in the present county of Columbia, where he died, leaving his family poor. The son began to teach school at the age of 16. In 1794 he entered the academy of Dr. Waddel, where he remained two years; after which he became principal of an academy in Augusta, studying law at the same time. He was admitted to the bar in 1798, and in the following spring commenced legal practice at Lexington, and soon after assisted in compiling the first digest of the laws of Georgia. In 1802 he was elected to the state senate, where he introduced a resolution, which was adopted by both branches of the legislature, urging Mr. Jefferson to become a candidate for a third presidential term. In 1807 he was elected to fill a vacancy in the United States senate. During the canvass he-fought two duels, killing his opponent in the first, and being wounded in the second.

He was elected as a supporter of the administration, but opposed the embargo bill, though at the next session he spoke and voted against its repeal. He was reelected in 1811, and became the exponent in the senate of the financial policy of Mr. Gallatin, then secretary of the treasury, and voted for a renewal of the first bank of the United States, a measure which was rejected by the casting vote of the vice president, George Clinton. When, in March, 1812, the latter was disabled by sickness from acting as president of the senate, Mr. Crawford was chosen president pro tern. In common with Madison, Gallatin, and other older members of his party, he was not in favor of the war with Great Britain, and opposed any augmentation of the navy. But Madison and Gallatin having yielded to the demands of the younger and more ardent section of the party, Crawford went with them and voted for the war. In 1813, having just refused the secretaryship of war, he was appointed minister to France. He took a warm interest in the negotiations at Ghent, and was in favor of peace, if it could be obtained, even without any mention of the impressment question, and that without waiting for definite instructions to that effect from Washington. During his residence in France he acquired the friendship of Lafayette, who appointed him agent for his American lands.

In 1815 he asked a recall, and the senate having refused to confirm Gen. Dearborn, whom Madison had nominated as secretary of war, Mr. Crawford, while still on his voyage home, was appointed to fill his place. The next year, on the retirement of Alexander J. Dallas, he was appointed secretary of the treasury. There were those who desired to support him as a candidate for the presidency instead of Monroe, and he received a large vote in the congressional caucus; but upon Monroe's accession he continued to hold the secretaryship of the treasury, having J. Q. Adams and J. C. Calhoun as his colleagues in the cabinet. The course of events had led a portion of the democratic party to alter their views as to the powers and duties of the federal government. Abandoning that strict limitation of federal authority, power, and patronage, of which Jefferson had been the champion, many among them had begun to favor a liberal expenditure of money, especially in facilitating trade and intercourse between the states by means of internal improvements. Calhoun was at this time an active champion of these new views.

They were opposed by Crawford, who was for adhering to the old Jeffersonian policy, and was denounced in consequence in Calhoun's newspaper organ at Washington as a " radical." Thus sprang up a warm political and even personal hostility between these two men. This feeling of hostility was aggravated upon the coming up of the question of a successor to •Monroe. Crawford, ever since the withdrawal of his claims at the former election in favor of Monroe, had been considered as in some sense the destined successor. He was nominated as such by a congressional caucus, held Feb. 14, 1824. All the other candidates, Calhoun, Jackson, Adams, and Clay, joined against him; and among other assaults upon him was one in the house of representatives involving charges of official misconduct as secretary of the treasury. He demanded an immediate investigation, and a committee was appointed, of which Daniel Webster, Edward Livingston, and John Randolph were members. Crawford, though sick in bed at the time, dictated a conclusive reply, and the committee made a unanimous report declaring the falsity of the charges.

The sickness of Mr. Crawford was long and severe, and though it had little influence on the vote given for him as president (he obtained all the electoral votes of Virginia and Georgia, five in New York, two in Maryland, and one in Delaware, 41 in all), it wholly destroyed any chance of his election by the house, and removed him henceforth from the political arena. He continued for some time an invalid, his disease being paralysis, occasioned it was said by the improper use of lobelia for an attack of erysipelas. His health gradually improved, but he never entirely recovered. He could not see to write, and had not the physical ability to encounter any labor. He returned to Georgia; but his pecuniary means were not large, and a vacancy occurring in May, 1827, on the bench of the circuit in which he had formerly practised, he accepted a temporary appointment from the governor to fill it. In November following he was chosen by the legislature for the remainder of the vacant term, in which position (the judges holding office for three years only) he was continued at two subsequent elections in 1828 and 1831. Though his disorder affected him both physically and mentally, he made a much better judge than would have seemed possible to those familiar with his paralyzed state.

He was strongly opposed to the nullification movement. To the last he retained his social temper and admirable conversational talent. He was a hearty laugher, negligent in his dress, simple in all his arrangements, and totally regardless of artificial dignity. In the family his residence was familiarly known as liberty hall. In religion he inclined to the Baptists.