Born in Wales, New York. Attended New York Central College. Principal of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, Academy. Superintendent of schools of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Principal of Mercer Union School.
Commissioned captain in the Tenth Pennsylvania Reserves for the Civil War. Rose through the ranks and brevetted brigadier general in 1865.
Studied law but never practiced. Elected to Congress March 4, 1879 to March 3, 1881. Elected again March 4, 1883 to March 3, 1887. Delegate to the 1896 Democratic National Convention. He was leader in the free silver movement. Author of Facts About Silver (Washington, D.C., 1898), an offprint from the Congressional Record.