north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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     Churchhill Caldom Cambreleng, U.S. Congressman and diplomat, was born on October 24, 1786 in Washington, North Carolina. Very little is known about the early life besides his attendance at a New Bern school. Cambreleng moved to New York in 1802 where he became an associate to America’s first millionaire, John Jacob Astor. He traveled abroad extensively as Astor’s representative. After the incorporation of the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad Company in 1831, he became its first president. He also served as the first director of the Farmers Fire Insurance and Loan Company.

     Cambreleng’s leadership experiences were important to his involvement in New York state and United States politics. In 1821, he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. While there, he was a principle spokesman for Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren on the floor of the House. During his legislative term, he supported Jackson’s stand on the United States Bank and opposed the tariffs of 1824 and 1828. He also served as the chairman of the Ways and Means, Commerce, and Foreign Affairs committees. The New York congressman lost his seat in the 1838 election and returned to private life for a short time before President Van Buren appointed him minister to Russia in 1840.

     When his Russian appointment expired in 1841, he never held another public office, but remained involved in politics. By the election of 1848, the Democratic Party in New York had split into two factions: the Hunkers and Barnburners. Cambreleng and Van Buren were members of the more liberal Barnburners who opposed the extension of slavery, expansion of the public debt, and the influence of large corporations. Refusing to back the Democrats 1848 presidential candidate, Cambreleng oversaw the Barnburner convention in New York, which paved the way for Van Buren’s presidential nomination at the Free-Soil Party Convention. Cambreleng’s loyalties returned to the Democratic Party for the 1852 election of Franklin Pierce. After that election, he retired from business and politics to his home in West Neck on Long Island. He died on April 30, 1862, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.


References:
Joel H. Silbey, “Barnburners” in The Encyclopedia of New York State, available online at http://www.syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/encyclopedia/entries/barnburners.htmlAllen Johnson, ed., Dictionary of American Biography (1946)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 308-309—sketch by Paul I. Chestnut
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