Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MERCER, Charles Fenton, soldier, born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, 6 June, 1778; died in Howard, near Alexandria, Virginia, 4 May, 1858. He was graduated at Princeton in 1797, and commissioned captain of cavalry the next year by General Washington, in anticipation of war with France, but subsequently studied law, and after a tour abroad in 1802-'3, practised his profession. He was a member of the Virginia legislature in 1810-'17, and during the war of 1812 was aide to the governor and in command of the defences of Norfolk, with the rank of brigadier-general. He was chairman of the committee on finances in the legislature in 1816, and introduced the bill for the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, of which he became president. He was elected to congress as a Federalist in this year, and returned till 1840, a longer period of continued service than that of any of his contemporaries. He was an active protectionist, and an opponent of slavery, he visited Europe in 1853 and conferred with eminent men of several countries in the interests of abolition.
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