Silas Comfort Swallow
March 5, 1839
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 13, 1930 (aged 91)|
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Rebecca Louise Robins|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Unit||18th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
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 That resolution was rescinded in 1844.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.
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. 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. In 1901 he was criticized for a recent editorial critical of William McKinley that was released shortly after his death.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Dr. Swallow's official conference service record lists the following appointments:
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:
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.