John G. Carlisle

For other people named John Carlisle, see John Carlisle (disambiguation).
John G. Carlisle
41st United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
March 7, 1893  March 5, 1897
President Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Preceded by Charles W. Foster
Succeeded by Lyman J. Gage
United States Senator
from Kentucky
In office
May 26, 1890  February 4, 1893
Preceded by James B. Beck
Succeeded by William Lindsay
31st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 3, 1883  March 4, 1889
President Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Preceded by J. Warren Keifer
Succeeded by Thomas B. Reed
Member of U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1877  May 26, 1890
Preceded by Thomas L. Jones
Succeeded by William W. Dickerson
20th Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
In office
September 5, 1871  August 31, 1875
Governor Preston H. Leslie
Preceded by Preston H. Leslie
Succeeded by John C. Underwood
Member of the Kentucky Senate
In office
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born John Griffin Carlisle
September 5, 1834
Kenton County, Kentucky, United States
Died July 31, 1910 (aged 75)
New York City, New York, United States
Resting place Linden Grove Cemetery in Covington, Kentucky, United States
Nationality United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Jane Goodson Carlisle
(1857–1905, her death)
Children William Kinkead Carlisle
Logan Griffin Carlisle
Profession Law

John Griffin Carlisle (September 5, 1834  July 31, 1910) was a prominent American politician in the Democratic Party during the last quarter of the 19th century. He served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, from 1883 to 1889 and afterward served as Secretary of the Treasury, from 1893 to 1897, during the Panic of 1893. As a Bourbon Democrat he was a leader of the conservative, pro-business wing of the party, along with President Grover Cleveland.


Carlisle was born in what is now Kenton County, Kentucky, and began his public life as a lawyer in Covington, Kentucky, under John W. Stevenson. Carlisle married Mary Jane Goodson on January 15, 1857, and they had two sons: William Kinkead Carlisle and Logan Griffin Carlisle

Despite the political difficulties that taking a neutral position during the American Civil War caused him, Carlisle spent most of the 1860s in the Kentucky General Assembly, serving in the Kentucky House of Representatives and two terms in the Kentucky State Senate, and was elected Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in 1871, succeeding his former law mentor Stevenson.

After Carlisle's term as Lieutenant Governor ended in 1875, he ran for and won a seat in the United States House of Representatives for Kentucky's 6th district. On the main issues of the day, Carlisle was in favor of coining silver, but not for free coinage, and favored lower tariffs. He became a leader of the low-tariff wing of the Democratic Party, and was chosen by House Democrats to become Speaker in 1883 over Samuel J. Randall, a leader of the party's protectionist wing.

Carlisle became a leader of the conservative Bourbon Democrats and was mentioned as a presidential candidate but the Democrats passed him over at their conventions for Winfield S. Hancock in 1880 and Grover Cleveland in 1884. Discomfort with nominating a southerner after the Civil War played a role in Carlisle's failure to win either nomination. In 1892 Carlisle was again proposed as a candidate for president at the Democratic convention, but this time Carlisle asked that he not be considered. It was reported at the time that Carlisle dropped out with the understanding that Cleveland, once nominated, would appoint him to his Cabinet.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Carlisle as Secretary of the Treasury.

In 1890, Carlisle was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired term of James B. Beck. When Cleveland was again elected to the Presidency in 1892, he chose Carlisle as his Secretary of the Treasury.

Carlisle's tenure as Secretary was marred by the Panic of 1893, a financial and economic disaster so severe that it ended Carlisle's political career. In response to a run on the American gold supply, Carlisle felt forced to end silver coinage. He also felt compelled to oppose the 1894 Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act bill. These two stands were widely unpopular among agrarian Democrats. In 1896 Carlisle strenuously opposed 1896 Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan, supporting a splinter Gold Democrat candidate, once-Illinois Governor Palmer, instead.[1]

By 1896, the once remarkably popular Carlisle was so disliked due to his stewardship of the currency that he was forced to leave the stage in the middle of a speech in his home town of Covington due to a barrage of rotten eggs.

He moved to New York City, where he practiced law, and died on July 31, 1910, at age 75, and is buried in Linden Grove Cemetery in Covington, Kentucky.[2]


Carlisle County, Kentucky was established in 1886.[3]


  1. David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito, "Gold Democrats and the Decline of Classical Liberalism, 1896-1900," Independent Review 4 (Spring 2000), 555-75
  2. Federal Writers' Project (1996). The WPA Guide to Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky. p. 154. ISBN 0813108659. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  3. The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 34.
Political offices
Preceded by
Preston H. Leslie
Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
John C. Underwood
Preceded by
J. Warren Keifer
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 3, 1883 – March 4, 1885;
December 7, 1885 – March 4, 1887;
December 5, 1887 – March 4, 1889
Succeeded by
Thomas B. Reed
Preceded by
Charles W. Foster
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: Grover Cleveland

March 7, 1893 – March 5, 1897
Succeeded by
Lyman J. Gage
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas Laurens Jones
United States Representative (District 6) from Kentucky
Succeeded by
William Worth Dickerson
United States Senate
Preceded by
James B. Beck
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
Served alongside: Joseph C. S. Blackburn
Succeeded by
William Lindsay
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