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John H. Harmon

john h harmon
John Hanchett Harmon June 21, 1819 – August 6, 1888 was an American politician who was a member of the Democratic National Committee, the mayor of Detroit, and the publisher of the Detroit Free Press

Early lifeedit

John H Harmon was born in Portage County, Ohio on June 21, 18191 His father, John Harmon, was a printer and published a newspaper in Ravenna, Ohio The younger Harmon joined his father and learned the printer's trade In 1838, the younger Harmon travelled to Detroit as the aide-de-camp of "General" Lucius V Bierce, a leader of the Hunter Patriots, a group dedicated to ridding North America of the British Empire2 In December 1838, Harmon took part in the Battle of Windsor, personally burning the British barracks and the steamer Thames2

After the Battle of Windsor, Harmon stayed in Detroit, obtaining a job at the Detroit Free Press He became an editor and one-third owner of the paper in 1841, and in 1853 sole owner of the paper3 Harmon sold the Free Press the next year3

In 1841, Harmon married Sarah S Rood1 The couple had three children: John Harmon, Emma Harmon, and Mrs S H Bell1


Harmon was a prominent Democrat, serving as an alderman of the city of Detroit in 1847 and two years as mayor, in 1852 and 1853,1 as well as representing Michigan on the 1848 Democratic National Committee4 He was also a member of the state militia, being appointed a Colonel in 18505 Following his stint as mayor, he was appointed by President Franklin Pierce as Collector for the Port of Detroit, where he served until 18571 After he left the office of Collector, Harmon spent much of his time in Washington, DC, during congressional sessions6

During this time Harmon, as one biographer put it, "became a victim to the bad habits created by the customs of hospitality then existing in Detroit"6 Through generosity to his friends, his fortune declined, and Harmon spent some time again working for the Free Press7 However, he later "conquered his habit" and became a total abstainer,7 a "silent but eloquent example of a permanently reformed man"6 John H Harmon died August 6, 1888 in a hotel in Detroit8


  1. ^ a b c d e Silas Farmer 1889, THE HISTORY OF DETROIT AND MICHIGAN, p 1040 
  2. ^ a b Samuel Alanson Lane 1892, Fifty years and over of Akron and Summit County, Beacon Job Department, pp 598–601 
  3. ^ a b Z L White 1888, "Western Journalism", Harper's magazine, 77, p 690 
  4. ^ The Democratic National Committee, 1830-1876, University of Wisconsin--Madison, 1919, p 63 
  5. ^ Michigan Legislature 1851, Joint documents of the Legislature of the State of Michigan for the year 1851, p 203 
  6. ^ a b c F A Barnard 1878, American biographical history of eminent and self-made men: Michigan volume, Part 1, Western biographical publishing co, p 71 
  7. ^ a b William E Quinby 1881, "Reminiscences of Michigan Journalism", Michigan historical collections, vol 4, p 511 
  8. ^ Robert B Ross 1890, The patriot war, p 44 
Political offices
Preceded by
Zachariah Chandler
Mayor of Detroit
Succeeded by
Oliver Moulton Hyde

john h harmon

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John H. Harmon

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