JOHN FREDERICK HARTRANFT was born in New Hanover, Pennsylvania. He attended Marshall College in Pennsylvania and graduated from Union College in New York in 1853. He then worked as an engineer and studied law, winning admission to the Bar in 1860. He was elected Deputy Sheriff of Montgomery County in 1854, a post that he held until the outbreak of the Civil War, during which he served with two Pennsylvania Regiments, winning promotion to Brigadier-General and then Major-General. He displayed bravery at the Battle of Fredericksburg, commanded a brigade at Vicksburg, and is credited with actions that led to the surrender of Petersburg. Following the war he was elected and then reelected state Auditor General, a post that he held until winning the governorship. During his gubernatorial tenure, the economic boom that had followed the Civil War ended, resulting in economic depression and unemployment that led to civil disturbances. Hartranft called up state troops on several occasions and requested federal troops to halt violence and property damage caused by striking railroaders in Reading and Pittsburgh. Once calm had been restored, he supported recognition of labor unions and arbitration of claims. Hartranft was also an advocate of technical training, local political reform, banking regulation, and reorganization of the state National Guard. Also during his administration, the State Constitution was revised. After leaving office, he moved to Philadelphia, where he became Postmaster, Commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and then Collector of the Port of Philadelphia.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 2. New York: James T. White & Company.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
State Archives Holdings: MG-144 John F. Hartranft Papers
State Archives Holdings: MG-474 John F. Hartranft-Shireman Family Papers
State Archives Holdings: MG-461 John F. Hartranft-Shireman Family Photographs
State Archives Holdings: RG-10 John F. Hartranft Correspondence
National Archives and Records Administration Affiliated Archives: RG-393 Records of Brevet - General John Frederick Hartranft as Special Provost Marshall for Trial & Execution of Assasins of President Lincoln