George Brinton McClellan, Jr.

Compiled by D. A. Sharpe



George Brinton McClellan, Jr. was born in Dresden, Germany, November 23, 1865, during the family's first trip to Europe. He is my seventh cousin, being directly descended from Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford.


McClellan, known to his family as "Max went to school in TrentonNew Jersey  where his father, former Union Army General, was Governor  and later to Saint John's School in Ossining, New York. From 1885 to 1888 he served in the New York Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Princeton in 1886 and his Master of Arts in 1889; Princeton, Fordham University, and Union College later gave him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. After leaving school, he engaged in reportorial and editorial work at the New York World and other newspapers. In 1892 he was admitted to the bar. He served for some time as secretary and treasurer of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge.


In 1892, McClellan was elected president of the Board of Aldermen of New York City for the following two years, and for a part of 1894, he served as acting mayor. His success and popularity enabled him in 1895 to become a United States Congressman (as a Democrat), a position he held until resigning to become the 93rd Mayor of New York City in late 1903, serving through 1909. In Congress, he was a prominent member of the Ways and Means Committee. While in Congress McClellan made speeches in favor of the gold standard, an issue that divided the fiscally conservative from the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party, although he avoided committing himself on the subject in the campaign of 1896.


In November 1903, McClellan defeated the sitting mayor, Seth Low, for a two-year term.  He was re-elected in 1905, after the restoration of four-year mayoral terms, but not considered for a third term in 1909.


He is notable in the history of movie censorship for canceling all moving-picture exhibition licenses on Christmas Eve 1908, claiming that the new medium degraded the morals of the community and that celluloid film was an unacceptable fire hazard.


One of the more famous stories about him occurred on October 27, 1904. On that day, the Interborough Rapid Transit, New York City's first subway, opened. McClellan was to start the first train at the City Hall Station, and then hand it over to an IRT motorman. However, he was enjoying himself so much, he refused to give up the controls until the train reached 103rd Street Station.


McClellan ran for president in 1904, receiving 3 votes on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention.


Throughout his political career, McClellan remained interested in education, and in 1906, he was named honorary Chancellor of Union College. At Princeton he delivered the Stafford Little lectures on public affairs (19081910), served as university lecturer (19111912), and subsequently was appointed a professor of economic history.


McClellan served in World War I entering the Army as major assigned to the Ordnance Department in May 1917 and he was honorably discharged in May 1919 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.


McClellan died childless on November 30, 1940, one week after his 75th birthday, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Source for most of this text:


Compiled by

Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe

805 Derting Road East

Aurora, TX 76078-3712