John Adams Dix 1798–1879
Born Boscawen, New Hampshire
Four southern states had already seceded from the Union by January 15, 1861, when John Adams Dix—a prominent Democrat—assumed the post of treasury secretary in President James Buchanan’s lame-duck administration. Determined to maintain federal authority, Dix sent a dispatch in late January to a treasury official in New Orleans, famously declaring, “If anyone attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot!” When the war began, Dix first accepted appointment as a major general with the New York State volunteers before receiving a commission from President Lincoln at the same rank in the Union army. Deemed too old for battlefield service, Dix was awarded a series of departmental commands in the war’s eastern theater, including that of the Department of the East, where he helped to restore order in New York City following antidraft riots in July 1863.