James A. Rawley
Alexander Kelly McClure--"Aleck" to his friends--was an active participant and sharp observer of mid-nineteenth century American politics. Editor, legislator, orator, attorney for a member of John Brown's band, eyewitness to the battle of Antietam, victim of a Confederate raid on his hometown of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, state party chairman, assistant adjutant general, and friend to mighty Civil War figures, the Pennsylvanian was on occasion in Washington discussing crises and policies with President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was told by the Philadelphia editor, John W. Forney, " McClure is a man of power, talent, wealth, and sagacity, and should always be so regarded."
A prolific writer, he brought out his Abraham Lincoln and Men of War-Times in 1892. An instant success, it ran through four editions in that year. A century and more later it continues to hold value for biographers and historians. McClure further added to Lincoln literature and lore with an anecdotal work entitled Old Time Notes of Pennsylvania in 1905. The saying attributed to Lincoln, "It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all the people all the time," is traceable to McClure's book, "Abe" Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, first published in 1901.
Born on his family's mountainous farm in Perry County, Pennsylvania, in 1828, Alexander McClure was descended from Scotch- Irish ancestors. After being educated at home, he was apprenticed to a tanner and simultaneously learned the printing trade. Publishing and public office occupied his early years as he worked as