Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)


State Treasurer, 1886-1890
Portrait attributed to Meredith Janvier (c. 1910)
MSA SC 1545-1147

Stevenson Archer was born on February 28, 1828, at "Medical Hall", near Churchville, Harford County, the youngest of eight children of Judge Stevenson and Pamelia Barney (Hays) Archer. His grandfather, Dr. John Archer, who had established a medical school at his home, "Medical Hall", in the 1780s, was a member of both the Maryland House of Delegates and the U.S. Congress. Judge Stevenson Archer, also a member of the Maryland House and U.S. Congress, served on the Maryland Court of Appeals from 1824 until his death in 1848.

Stevenson Archer graduated from Princeton University in 1846 and studied law in Belair, Harford County. He was admitted to the bar in 1850 and practiced in Belair. In 1854 he represented Harford County as a Whig in the House of Delegates. The following year, Archer married Blanche Franklin (ca. 1835-1919) of Tennessee. Also called Jane Cage Franklin, she was the daughter of Smith and Elizabeth Cage of Sumner County, Tennessee. The Archer's children included Estelle, Frances, Stevenson, Blanche, and Percy. The family lived at "Hazel Dell" near Belair.

Archer was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1867 until 1875, and was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1868 and 1876. He chaired the Democratic State Central Committee from 1887-1889.

In 1886 Archer was elected State Treasurer. He was said to have "won great favor in the discharge of his duty" and was reelected in 1888 and 1890, but shortly after the beginning of his third term, he was accused by the Comptroller of "irregularities". An investigation by the General Assembly uncovered a shortage of over $132,000. Archer was arrested on April 10, 1890, and charged with "fraudulently embezzling or appropriating to his own use" monies belonging to the state. He was officially removed from office on April 15. At his trial in the Criminal Court of Baltimore City, Archer pleaded guilty to the indictment and offered no defense or explanation. A letter from Archer to the Court says simply "No part of the State's money or securities was ever used by me in gambling, stock speculation, or for political purposes; nor have I at this time one dollar of it left."

Archer was sentenced to five years in the Maryland Penitentiary but was pardoned by Governor Frank Brown in May 1894 upon recommendation of the General Assembly and a "very large number of prominent citizens". Archer's health had failed drastically in the four years since his arrest; upon his release he was admitted to Baltimore City Hospital where he remained until his death.

On August 2, 1898, at 5:30 p.m., Stevenson Archer succumbed to a combination of "blood trouble" and "mental worry". His body was returned to Belair where his funeral was held at Emmanual Protestant Episcopal Church. Burial was in the family plot in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Churchville.

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