Geary, John White (gērˈē) [key], 1819–73, American politician and Union general in the Civil War, b. Mt. Pleasant, Pa. In San Francisco from 1849 to 1852, Geary was the first U.S. postmaster, the last alcalde, and the first mayor. President Franklin Pierce appointed him governor of "bleeding"Kansas in July, 1856. His energy and firmness brought peace to the territory for the first time in many months, but the meeting of the determined proslavery legislature (Jan., 1857) and the discovery that little antislavery support could be expected from the incoming President James Buchanan led Geary to resign (March). In the Civil War, Geary was made a brigadier general of volunteers in Apr., 1862. He was wounded at Cedar Mt. (1862), commanded a division of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (1863), distinguished himself under Joseph Hooker in the Chattanooga campaign (1864), and fought in W. T. Sherman's campaigns (1864–65). He was made major general of volunteers in Jan., 1865. Geary was elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1866 and held that office until shortly before his death.
See biography by H. M. Tinkcom (1940); J. H. Gihon, Geary and Kansas (1971).