Daniel E. Sickles

Daniel E. Sickles

Daniel Edgar Sickles was born in New York on 20th October 1819. Originally a printer, he later studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1846. Elected to the State assembly in 1847, he was appointed corporation attorney in 1853.

In 1853 Sickles became secretary to the United States legation in London. When Sickles returned to America he become involved in politics and joined the Democratic Party. He was elected to the 35th Congress and took up his seat in March 1857.

Two years later Sickles shot dead the unarmed Philip Barton Key in front of several witnesses. During his trial Sickles claimed Key was having an affair with his wife. Sickles became the first person in legal history to be acquitted after pleading temporary insanity.

On the outbreak of the American Civil War Sickles raised a brigade in New York. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general, commanded the 2nd Division of the III Corps at Antietam. He also fought at Gettysburg, where he lost his leg.

In March, 1867, Congress passed the first Reconstruction Act. The South was now divided into five military districts, each under a major general. New elections were to be held in each state with freed male slaves being allowed to vote. President Andrew Johnson appointed Sickles as military governor of the Carolinas. Johnson was opposed to this legislation and eventually Sickles and Philip Sheridan (Louisiana and Texas) were sacked for doing their work too enthusiastically.

In 1869 President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Sickles as Minister to Spain. After resigning in 1873 he became chairman of the New York Monuments Commission but was later forced to resign for mishandling funds.

Sickles was appointed sheriff of New York City in 1889 and also served in the 53rd Congress (March, 1893 to March, 1895).

Daniel Edgar Sickles died on 3rd May 1914.