William Morris Meredith (June 08, 1799 - August 17, 1873)


William Meredith's meaningfully somber pose has been the source of jokes for years in the fractional community. In his defense it must be pointed out that the "Kodak" smile was still light years away, and posing for paintings--or early photographs--was serious business. The subject was to be composed, his or her visage reflecting the importance and weight of the office or family. So, enough jokes at his expense. The fact that he looks as though he just sat on a whopee cushion shouldn't detract from his accomplishments.

President Zachary Taylor chose Meredith to serve as Secretary of the Treasury in March of 1849. In his "Annual Report of 1849" Meredith presented a well thought out argument for a protective tariff. He felt a duty to protect American workmen, who were being plowed under by poorly-paid European labor. Sound familiar?

The precipitous and poorly thought out Mexican American War and the acquisition of California fueled Meredith's appeals to increase revenue by raising the job producing tariffs, but no one paid him much attention and nothing came of it during his term in spite of his unfaltering efforts.

Maybe that's why he looks flummoxed. Fighting the interests of big commerce in the name of the regular guy or gal was probably just as frustrating then as now.

He resigned with the rest of Taylor's cabinet upon the President's death in 1850. From 1861 to 1867 he served as state attorney general of Pennsyslvania. He died in 1873 and we can hope he looked at peace, he deserved no less.