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Toucey, Isaac


Isaac Toucey served as U.S. attorney general from 1848 to 1849. A leading Connecticut politician before his appointment by President james polk, Toucey went on to serve as secretary of the navy in the administration of james buchanan.

Isaac Toucey was born on November 5, 1796, in Newtown, Massachusetts. He studied law as a young man and was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1818. After practicing law in Hartford, Connecticut, for several years, he was appointed state's attorney in 1822, and held that office until 1835.

In 1835, Toucey was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of the democratic party. He left Congress in 1839 and returned to Connecticut. Alhough he was reappointed state's attorney in 1842, his political ambitions remained paramount. He became governor of Connecticut in 1846.

President Polk took office in 1845. His first attorney general was john y. mason, who left the position after a year to become secretary of the navy. Mason's successor, nathan clifford, remained until 1848, when Polk sent him to Mexico to negotiate the treaty that ended the Mexican War and ceded California to the United States. In June 1848, with less than a year left in his administration, Polk appointed Toucey to be attorney general. Toucey's brief tenure, which ended in March 1849, was unremarkable.

Nevertheless, Toucey capitalized on the national stature he attained as attorney general. He was elected a Connecticut state senator in 1850 and a U.S. senator in 1852. In March 1857, Toucey resigned from the Senate to become secretary of the navy for President Buchanan. He remained as secretary for the entire presidential term, which ended in March 1861.

After retiring from politics and government service, Toucey returned to Connecticut and resumed the practice of law. He died on July 30, 1869, in Hartford.

further readings

"Isaac Toucey." Connecticut State Library's Governors of Connecticut. Available online at <> (accessed May 16, 2003).

Justice Department. 1985. Attorneys General of the United States, 1789–1985. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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