Chandler, Joseph Ripley
CHANDLER, JOSEPH RIPLEY
Member of U.S. Congress, journalist; b. Kingston, Mass., Aug. 25, 1792; d. Philadelphia, Pa., July 10, 1880. He was the son of Joseph and Saba (Ripley) Chandler. Although largely self-educated, he conducted a girls' seminary in Philadelphia from 1818 until 1826, when, with a small group of associates, he purchased the newspaper Gazette of the United States. He eventually became sole proprietor and made the Gazette one of the most influential Whig journals until 1847, when he sold it to the North American. In 1848 he became an editor of Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature.
Chandler was a member of Philadelphia's common council (1832–48) and a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1837; he was also president of the first board of trustees of Girard College, Philadelphia, and grand master of the Pennsylvania Freemasons. He had married a Catholic in 1833 and in 1849 was received into the Church. Elected to Congress in 1848 as a Clay Whig, he was twice reelected. His speech "The Temporal Power of the Pope," delivered in the House in 1855, answered Rep. Nathaniel Banks's charge that Catholicism was incompatible with political liberty. In 1858 Chandler was appointed U.S. minister to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where he served until 1861. Returning to Philadelphia, he renewed an earlier interest in penology. A member of the board of inspectors of the county prison (1861–80), he represented the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons at an international congress in London in 1872.
Several of Chandler's orations were published in pamphlet form, but the elegant and highly moral fugitive
pieces upon which his literary reputation rested have never been collected. His other works include A Grammar of the English Language (1821, rev. ed., 1848), a text widely used in public schools, and The Beverly Family or the Home Influence of Religion (1875), a didactic novel preaching religious tolerance.
Bibliography: m. shaver, Dictionary of American Biography, ed. a. johnson and d. malone, 20 v. (New York 1928–36; index 1937; 1st suppl. 1944; 2d suppl. 1958), 3:614–615.