John Silva Meehan
John Silva Meehan
John Silva Meehan
4th Librarian of Congress
In office
PresidentAndrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Preceded byGeorge Watterston
Succeeded byJohn Gould Stephenson
Personal details
Born(1790-02-06)February 6, 1790
New York, New York
DiedApril 24, 1863(1863-04-24) (aged 73)
Washington, D.C.
Known forLibrarian of Congress

John Silva Meehan (6 February 1790 – 24 April 1863) was an American printer and publisher.[1] He was the fourth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1829 to 1861.

Meehan, a United States Democratic party member, was appointed Librarian of Congress by President Andrew Jackson, replacing in the post the Whig-activist George Watterston, who opposed Jackson. He and his congressional supporters advocated limits on the size of the library. Many of the library's functions were transferred to other government agencies. When a fire destroyed 35,000 volumes in 1851, including two-thirds of the materials originally provided by President Thomas Jefferson, the money provided by Congress for restoration was used solely for replacing lost materials and not for expansion. Meehan did provide a small collection of periodicals for congressional perusal which, under later librarians, became the periodicals division.[2]

Meehan served under nine presidents. Despite congressional opposition, President Abraham Lincoln replaced Meehan with a Republican supporter, John G. Stephenson.[3][4]


  1. ^ "John Silva Meehan (1790-1863)". Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  2. ^ Cole, John Y. (30 March 2006). "Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress -- Librarians of Congress". Library of Congress. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  3. ^ McDonough, John (January 1976). "John Silva Meehan: A Gentleman of Amiable Manners". The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress. 33: 3–28.
  4. ^ "Interments in the Historic Congressional Cemetery" (PDF). Bytes of History. 1 June 2002. Retrieved 4 March 2016.