During the American Civil War, he served in the Union Army as a member of the 134th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, which he commanded as a colonel. Quay received the Medal of Honor for heroism at the battle of Fredericksburg. He later served as the Pennsylvania Militia's assistant commissary general, and as a personal assistant to Governor Andrew Curtin.
Quay's attention soon focused on politics, and he served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1865 to 1867. He later served as Secretary of the Commonwealth, Philadelphia County Recorder, and Pennsylvania Treasurer. Quay served in the United States Senate twice, the first time from 1887 to 1899, and the second from 1901 until his death in 1904.
From 1888 to 1891, Quay was Chairman of the Republican National Committee. As a party "boss" at the state and national levels, Quay had the ability to influence the selection of Republican nominees and the general election support they received; he was largely credited with the leadership of Benjamin Harrison's successful campaign for president in 1888.
Quay died in Beaver in 1904, and was buried at Beaver Cemetery and Mausoleum in Beaver.
The Matthew S. Quay House in Beaver has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. In addition, another of his residences, the Roberts-Quay House in Philadelphia was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
|United States Senator|
January 16, 1901 – May 28, 1904
|Succeeded by||Philander Knox|
March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1899
|Preceded by||John Mitchell|
|Chair of the Republican National Committee|
July 12, 1888 – September 8, 1891
|Preceded by||Benjamin Jones|
|Succeeded by||James Clarkson|
|Treasurer of Pennsylvania|
|Governor||Robert E. Pattison|
|Preceded by||William Livsey|
|Succeeded by||William Livsey|
Matthew Stanley Quay
September 30, 1833
Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||May 28, 1904 (aged 70)|
Beaver, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Washington and Jefferson College (BA)|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1861–1864|
|Unit||134th Pennsylvania Infantry|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Quay was born in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. After attending Beaver and Indiana academies, he graduated at Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in 1850. Quay was admitted to the bar in 1854. Prior to the start of the Civil War, Quay won election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing Beaver County. At the start of the American Civil War, Quay was a colonel with 134th Pennsylvania volunteers. He served in various capacities in the Civil War, including as Assistant Commissary General of Pennsylvania. Congress awarded him the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the battle of Fredericksburg. Quay's conduct during the war earned him the attention of Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, who made Quay his personal aide tasked with answering the letters of soldiers. In 1864, Quay was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, serving from 1865–1867. He was a companion of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
After the war, Quay became an ally of party boss Simon Cameron, who founded a state machine that also included his son, future Senator Donald Cameron. Quay became the editor of a newspaper called the 'Radical,' where Quay defended the spoils system and called for greater protection of African-American civil rights in the South. He was appointed by the governor as Secretary of the Commonwealth from 1873–1878, and again from 1879–1882. He was appointed as the County Recorder of Philadelphia from 1878–1879, and state treasurer from 1886–1887.
He was elected by the legislature in 1887 to the United States Senate, serving from March 4, 1887 until March 3, 1899, with repeated re-elections. Shortly after his election to the Senate, Quay outmaneuvered fellow Senator Donald Cameron to become the boss of the state Republican Party. Quay was elected as chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1888. Quay served as Benjamin Harrison's campaign manager in the 1888 presidential election. Quay's strategy focused on the state of New York, which had been the pivotal state in the previous election. Quay objected to the voting process in New York City, which had been controlled by the Democratic Tammany Hall political machine. In order to ensure that voter fraud did not occur in New York City, Quay discreetly compiled a city directory which would contain the names of all of the city's eligible voters. Although Cleveland got more votes in New York City, Harrison won New York and the presidency despite losing the national popular vote. Harrison credited "Providence" with his victory, a remark which prompted Quay to state that "Providence hadn't a damn thing to do with it." 
In the 1896 presidential election, Quay finished third on the Republican National Convention's presidential ballot. Quay aided New York party boss Thomas C. Platt in making Theodore Roosevelt the party's vice presidential nominee in 1900.
Quay was perhaps the preeminent state party boss of the late 19th century, and other party bosses in states like New York and Illinois followed Quay's example. With his control of state patronage, Quay built an organization with a budget comparable to mid-sized railroads of the era. Quay rarely spoke in public, but instead conducted most of his business in one-on-one meetings, locking down support before making a public move. He was meticulous in tracking the activities of individual legislators and kept track of favors granted to people and details of their lives in card files known as "Quay's coffins". Despite his power, Quay frequently clashed with reformers in Pennsylvania, particularly with Philadelphia's Committee of One Hundred. Quay was succeeded as party boss by fellow Senator Boies Penrose. The fictional "Senator Mark Simpson" in Theodore Dreiser's The Financier was based on Quay.
In 1898, Quay was brought to trial on a charge of misappropriating state funds. Although he was acquitted the following year, the feeling among the reform element in his own party was so opposed to him that the legislature became deadlocked over filling the Senate vacancy. As the legislature was unable to build consensus for anyone to be elected to the seat, Governor William Stone appointed Quay to fill the ensuing vacancy. Quay presented his credentials to the Senate in December 1899, but the Senate refused to seat him, declaring that he was not entitled to the seat. Pennsylvania held a special election to fill the persistent vacancy, and Quay was re-elected to the seat. Quay would serve in the Senate until his death in 1904.
One of the first politicians that Standard Oil bought was Matthew Quay - at least on record. Quay was given the code name "Black" according to a note that John D. Rockefeller's personal secretary sent to associate Henry M. Flagler. In early 1880, Quay asked for a "loan" of $15,000, which Rockefeller thought was worth the price. Quay continued to be in Standard Oil's pay until his death in 1904, when he was representing both the State of Pennsylvania and Standard Oil in the United States Senate.
In 1855, Quay married Agnes Barclay (1831-1911); they were the parents of several children, of whom five lived to adulthood
Quay was interested in his family's history and genealogy. After discovering that two of his ancestors, John Quay and John Quay Jr., had married American Indians, Quay took an interest in Native Americans in the United States, and worked on their behalf in the Senate. The Delawares recognized him as a member of their tribe; Quay attended their annual summer convocations, and received several gifts and honors over the years, including election as a war chief in recognition of his military service and efforts on their behalf while serving as a member of the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee.
Matthew Quay appears on a 45p (£0.45) commemorative stamp from the Isle of Man Post Office, as part of a series honoring Manx-Americans.
In the 1890s in Pennsylvania there was an attempt to create a county from existing counties and name it after him. The county would have been created out of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne Counties. The bill passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Daniel Hastings. Governor Hastings was hanged in effigy on the streets of Hazleton, which would have been the seat of justice of the new county if Hastings had approved the bill.
Rank and Organization:
| Treasurer of Pennsylvania
| United States Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
Served alongside: J. Donald Cameron, Boies Penrose
Dwight M. Sabin
| Chair of the Senate Civil Service Committee
John H. Mitchell
| Chair of the Senate Seaboard Transportation Routes Committee
| Chair of the Senate Public Buildings Committee
Charles W. Fairbanks
|Vacant|| United States Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
Served alongside: Boies Penrose
Louis E. McComas
| Chair of the Senate Executive Oversight Committee
Thomas H. Carter
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the Republican National Committee
The United States Senate elections of 1886 and 1887 were elections that had the Republican Party lose two seats in the United States Senate. At the beginning of the 50th Congress, therefore, Republicans had the slimmest possible majority due to a vacant Democratic seat: 38 out of 75 seats. Once that vacancy was filled, Republicans maintained control as the single Readjuster Senator caucused with them.
As these elections were prior to ratification of the seventeenth amendment, Senators were chosen by State legislatures.1887 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania
The 1887 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania was held on January 18, 1887. Matthew Quay was elected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the United States Senate.1893 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania
The 1893 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania was held on January 17, 1893. Incumbent Matthew Quay was re-elected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the United States Senate.1898 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election
The Pennsylvania gubernatorial election of 1898 was held on November 1. It featured a three-way campaign between major party candidates William Stone and George Jenks, as well as a strong showing by prohibitionist Silas Swallow.1900 Republican National Convention
The 1900 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held June 19 to June 21 in the Exposition Auditorium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Exposition Auditorium was located south of the University of Pennsylvania, and the later Convention Hall was constructed along the building's east wall. It was demolished in 2006.
Each state was allotted two delegates per electoral vote, and territories were granted from two to six delegates. Altogether, there were 926 delegates and an equal number of alternates.
Mark Hanna opened the convention. He proposed that Senator Edward O. Wolcott of Colorado serve as temporary chairman. The purpose of Wolcott's selection was to show that the party had overcome its divisiveness of 1896, in which the Colorado delegation walked out of the Republican convention. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts served as the convention's permanent chairman.
President William McKinley was unanimously nominated for reelection. No candidate ran against him, although Admiral George Dewey considered a run. Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, who was himself a delegate, was nominated for Vice President by a vote of 925 to 1 abstention, with his vote alone abstaining.1901 United States Senate special election in Pennsylvania
The 1901 United States Senate special election in Pennsylvania was held on January 15, 1901, after the regularly scheduled legislative election in January—April 1899 failed to elect a Senator. Former Senator Matthew Quay, who had left the Senate for nearly two years because of the political stalemate, was again elected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the United States Senate.1905 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania
The 1905 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania was held on January 17, 1905. Incumbent Philander C. Knox was elected by the Pennsylvania State Assembly to his first full term in the United States Senate.1909 United States Senate special election in Pennsylvania
The 1909 United States Senate special election in Pennsylvania was held on March 16, 1909. George T. Oliver was elected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the United States Senate.Beaver, Pennsylvania
Beaver is a borough in and the county seat of Beaver County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is located at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers, approximately 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Pittsburgh. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 4,531. The borough is a Tree City USA community.Robert Linn was the mayor of Beaver for 58 years, from 1946 to 2004, making him one of the longest serving mayors in the United States.Boies Penrose
Boies Penrose (November 1, 1860 – December 31, 1921) was an American lawyer and Republican politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate from 1897 until his death in 1921. Penrose was the fourth political boss of the Pennsylvania Republican political machine, following Simon Cameron, Donald Cameron, and Matthew Quay. Penrose was the longest-serving Pennsylvania Senator until Arlen Specter surpassed his record in 2005.Charles Nelan
Charles F. Nelan (April 10, 1859 – December 7, 1904) was an American artist and political cartoonist, known for his cartoons on the Spanish–American War, some 135 of which appeared in the New York Herald. His work in the Philadelphia North American was often critical of Samuel Pennypacker and Matthew Quay. Nelan's work also helped solidify the image of Uncle Sam as a personification of the United States.List of United States Senators in the 50th Congress by seniority
This is a complete list of members of the United States Senate during the 50th United States Congress listed by seniority, from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1889.
Order of service is based on the commencement of the senator's first term. Behind this is former service as a senator (only giving the senator seniority within his or her new incoming class), service as vice president, a House member, a cabinet secretary, or a governor of a state. The final factor is the population of the senator's state.Senators who were sworn in during the middle of the Congress (up until the last senator who was not sworn in early after winning the November 1888 election) are listed at the end of the list with no number.List of United States Senators in the 51st Congress by seniority
This is a complete list of members of the United States Senate during the 51st United States Congress listed by seniority, from March 4, 1889, to March 3, 1891.
Order of service is based on the commencement of the senator's first term. Behind this is former service as a senator (only giving the senator seniority within his or her new incoming class), service as vice president, a House member, a cabinet secretary, or a governor of a state. The final factor is the population of the senator's state.Senators who were sworn in during the middle of the Congress (up until the last senator who was not sworn in early after winning the November 1890 election) are listed at the end of the list with no number.List of United States Senators in the 52nd Congress by seniority
This is a complete list of members of the United States Senate during the 52nd United States Congress listed by seniority, from March 4, 1891, to March 3, 1893.
Order of service is based on the commencement of the senator's first term. Behind this is former service as a senator (only giving the senator seniority within his or her new incoming class), service as vice president, a House member, a cabinet secretary, or a governor of a state. The final factor is the population of the senator's state.Senators who were sworn in during the middle of the Congress (up until the last senator who was not sworn in early after winning the November 1892 election) are listed at the end of the list with no number.Matthew S. Quay House
The Matthew S. Quay House is a historic house at 205 College Avenue in Beaver, Pennsylvania. Built sometime after the American Civil War, it was from 1874 until his death the home of Matthew Stanley Quay (1833-1904), a United States Senator and one of the most influential political party bosses of the late 19th century. His house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. It is now the location of the J.T. Anderson Funeral Home.Pennsylvania Treasurer
The Pennsylvania State Treasurer is the head of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, an independent department of state government. The state treasurer is elected every four years. Treasurers are limited to two terms.Quay, Oklahoma
Quay is an unincorporated community located on the boundary line between Pawnee and Payne counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The population was 47 at the 2000 census, when it was still a town; the community disincorporated on August 23, 2000. No population was recorded in the census of 2010.Quay County, New Mexico
Quay County (pronounced "kway") is a county in the state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,041. Its county seat is Tucumcari. The county was named for Pennsylvania senator Matthew Quay, who supported statehood for New Mexico. It is west from the Texas state line.Roberts-Quay House
Roberts-Quay House is a historic home located in the Washington Square West neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The original section was built in about 1850, and expanded in 1889, 1906, 1921, and 1928. The original section measures 47 feet by 51 feet, and is a four-story building with a brownstone face and sides of stucco, scored as brownstone. It has a basement, attic, and cupola and is in a Renaissance Revival style. The additions to the north add an additional 100 feet to the depth of the building. It was a home of Matthew Quay (1833–1904), a United States Senator from Pennsylvania.The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.