Edwin Atkins Merritt

Edwin Atkins Merritt, New York political figure.

Edwin Atkins Merritt (February 26, 1828 – December 26, 1916) was an American politician, civil service reformer and diplomat. He served as a Union Army officer in the American Civil War, and was a brigadier general in the New York Militia. In addition, he served in the New York State Assembly, and held the appointive post of Collector of the Port of New York.


Edwin A. Merrit was born in Sudbury, Vermont on February 26, 1828, the son of Nodiah Merritt and Relief (Parker) Merritt. He was raised and educated in Essex County, New York, and became a teacher, surveyor, and engineer.

From 1854 to 1857 Merrit was Town Supervisor of Pierrepont, New York. From 1857 to 1860 he was Clerk of the St. Lawrence County Board of Supervisors. He was a member of the New York State Assembly (St. Lawrence Co., 2nd D.) in 1860 and 1861.

During the American Civil War he served in the Union Army as quartermaster of the 60th New York Volunteer Infantry with the rank of captain, and took part in campaigns in Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee. He was later stationed in Washington, D.C. and assigned to supply reinforcements departing for the front lines. In January, 1865 he was appointed Quartermaster General of the New York Militia with the rank of brigadier general, a position he held until 1869.

In April 1865 Merritt was New York's official representative at the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. He was a delegate to the 1867 state constitutional convention, and from 1869 to 1871 he was U.S. Naval Officer for the Port of New York, one of the three political appointees (collector, surveyor, and naval officer) who collected customs duties and fined importers who attempted to evade payment.

In 1871 he declined appointment as U.S. Minister to Brazil. In 1875 he ran on the Republican ticket for New York State Treasurer, but was defeated by Democrat Charles N. Ross.

In 1877 Merritt was appointed Surveyor of the Port of New York, and in 1879 he was selected to serve as Collector, succeeding Chester A. Arthur. He served until 1881, when he was appointed U.S. Consul General in London, where he served until 1885.

Long interested in higher education, Merritt was a trustee of St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University, and was active in the creation of what is now the State University of New York at Potsdam.

Merritt died in Potsdam, New York on December 26, 1916. He was buried at Pierrepont Hill Cemetery in Pierrepont.

His son Edwin Albert Merritt was a Congressman from New York.


Government offices
Preceded by
Chester A. Arthur
Collector of the Port of New York
Succeeded by
William H. Robertson
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