Silas C. Swallow
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Silas C. Swallow

Silas Swallow
Silas C Swallow 1904.jpg
Personal details
Silas Comfort Swallow

(1839-03-05)March 5, 1839
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 13, 1930(1930-08-13) (aged 91)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyProhibition
Spouse(s)Rebecca Louise Robins
MotherSarah Thompson
FatherGeorge Swallow
EducationWyoming Seminary
Taylor University[1]
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/serviceUnion Army
RankFirst lieutenant
Unit18th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Silas Comfort Swallow (March 5, 1839 - August 13, 1930) was a United States Methodist preacher and prohibitionist politician who was a lifelong opponent of slavery.


On March 5, 1839 Silas Comfort Swallow was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to George Swallow, a trustee of Wyoming Seminary, and Sarah Thompson and was named after Methodist preacher Silas Comfort (1803-1868), an anti-slavery member of the Genesee, Oneida and Missouri Conferences.

While serving in St. Louis, Missouri, Comfort admitted as evidence in a church trial the testimony of a Negro, a practice which was forbidden in public trials in Missouri at the time. He was censured by his Conference, but that censure was overturned by the 1840 General Conference. The General Conference then bowed to Southern pressure and passed a resolution prohibiting the testimony of Negroes in church trials within states that forbade such testimony in public trials. That resolution was rescinded in 1844. Before entering the ministry, Silas was employed as a school teacher from the age of 16 to 21 and later studied law.

In 1862 he enlisted into the Union Army and served as a First lieutenant in the 18th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War.[2]

He entered the Baltimore Conference in 1863 and became a charter member of the Central Pennsylvania Conference upon its organization in 1869. On January 20, 1866 he married Rebecca Louise Robins.[3][4] He worked a church builder, presiding elder, and editor of The Central Pennsylvania Methodist. As editor he attacked alcohol, spiritual indifference, and political corruption in the state government that led to him being prosecuted and convicted of slander and fined $500 in 1897, but the verdict was later reversed by the State Superior Court.[5] In 1901 he was criticized for a recent editorial critical of William McKinley that was released shortly after his death.[6]

Silas Comfort Swallow

He was the Prohibition Party's candidate for Mayor of Harrisburg, state legislature, State Treasurer, and Governor of Pennsylvania. When he ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 1898 he received the nomination of the Prohibition, People's, Liberty, and Honest Government parties and received 13% in the general election. In 1901 he received a single vote for Senator from state representative L. D. Brown.[7]

During the 1900 presidential election he ran for the Prohibition Party's presidential nomination, but was narrowly defeated by John G. Woolley after Hale Johnson withdrew before balloting.[8] During the 1904 presidential election it was initially believed that General Nelson A. Miles would be the Prohibition Party's presidential nominee, but one hour before the convention was to vote he sent a telegram refusing to allow the delegates to vote for him.[9] Swallow, who was supposed to serve as an at-large delegate for Pennsylvania, but was unable to attend due to his wife's poor health, was voted on instead and given the nomination by acclamation. It was speculated that he might not accept the nomination, but after his wife's health improved he accepted it and appeared on the ticket with his running mate George Washington Carroll. In the general election he received 259,102 votes which is the second highest popular vote total for the party.

Swallow died at his home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 13, 1930 from old age and was interred at Paxtang Cemetery near Harrisburg.

Church service

Dr. Swallow's official conference service record lists the following appointments:

  • 1863-1864 Milton circuit.
  • 1864-1866 Berwick.
  • 1866-1868 Catawissa.
  • 1868-1871 Newberry.
  • 1871-1873 Williamsport Third Street.
  • 1873-1875 Milton.
  • 1875-1877 Altoona Eighth Avenue.
  • 1877-1881 presiding elder, Altoona District.
  • 1881-1884 York First.
  • 1884-1886 Williamsport Grace.
  • 1886-1887 agent, Dickinson College.
  • 1887-1892 Harrisburg Ridge Avenue.
  • 1892-1902 superintendent, Harrisburg Methodist book room.
  • 1902-1908 no appointment, by request.
  • 1908-1930 retired.


Being an editor, Swallow made certain that his life story was recorded for posterity. Upon reaching his 70th birthday in 1909, he published a 482-page hardback autobiography: III Score and X - Selections, Collections, Recollections of Seventy Busy Years.

This proved to be so successful that he came out with periodic updates as follows:

  • Toasts and Roasts of III Score and X, 1911.
  • Then and Now - Some Reminiscences of an Octogenarian, 1919.
  • IV Score and More, 1922.

Other booklets and pamphlets by Swallow, all of which are preserved in the archives of the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, range in date and content from his 1879 Camp Meetings and the Sabbath to his 1917 A Sermon on Thanksgiving and Thanksliving.

Electoral history

Silas C. Swallow electoral history
1898 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William A. Stone 476,206 49.01% -11.30%
Democratic George A. Jenks 358,300 36.87% +1.89%
Prohibition Silas C. Swallow 132,931 13.68% +11.22%
Socialist Labor J. Mahlon Barnes 4,273 0.44% +0.26%
N/A Other 32 0.00% -0.02%
Total votes 971,742 100.00%
1902 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Samuel W. Pennypacker 593,328 54.20% +5.19%
Democratic Robert E. Pattison 450,978 41.19% +4.32%
Prohibition Silas C. Swallow 23,327 2.13% -11.55%
Socialist John W. Slayton 21,910 2.00% +2.00%
Socialist Labor William Adams 5,155 0.47% +0.03%
N/A Other 73 0.01% +0.01%
Total votes 1,094,771 100.00%


  1. ^ "Ninety Years Old Today". Harrisburg Telegraph. 5 March 1929. p. 5. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  2. ^ "Dr. S. C. Swallow, Minister, Editor, Dies At Age Of 91". Shamokin News-Dispatch. 14 August 1930. p. 2. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Dr. and Mrs. Silas C. Swallow Observe 63rd Anniversary". Harrisburg Telegraph. 30 January 1929. p. 10. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  4. ^ "Dr. Silas Swallow Dies At Harrisburg". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 14 August 1930. p. 3. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  5. ^ "Dr. Silas C. Swallow, A Fighting Dry, Dies In 91st Year". Public Opinion. 14 August 1930. p. 9. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  6. ^ "Veterans Score Swallow". Reading Times. 23 September 1901. p. 1. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  7. ^ "Mr. Quay Is Elected Senator!". The Wilkes-Barre Record. 16 January 1901. p. 1. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Woolley For President". Sioux City Journal. 29 June 1900. p. 2. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019 – via
  9. ^ "Dr. Swallow Nominated". The Lancaster Examiner. 2 July 1904. p. 1. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019 – via
  10. ^ "1898 PA Governor general election". Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ "1902 PA Governor general election". Retrieved 2011.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
John G. Woolley
Prohibition nominee for President of the United States
Succeeded by
Eugene W. Chafin

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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