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Mathias Edgar Richards (1830-1876)

University Affiliation:
  • A.B. 1851
  • Commencement speaker
Biographical Summary:
  • Lawyer
  • Union officer during the Civil War


Mathias Edgar Richards (1830-1876), A.B. 1851, A.M. 1854, was born in New Hanover township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He came from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, to attend college at Penn's 9th Street campus and graduated as one of twenty members of the Class of 1851. During his college years he was a member of the Zelosophic Society, a student organization founded in 1829 as a forum for essays, orations and debates.

Richards' speech "Improvements of the Age" was the last of twelve student orations listed on Penn 1851 commencement program. The seven page manuscript of Richard's tongue-in-cheek commmentary on mid-nineteenth century progress is available here as both facsimile and transcription.

After graduation he became a lawyer in Pottsville. During the Civil War, Richards was a member the Army of the Potomac, serving first (in 1861) with the 25th Pennsylvania Regiment of U.S. Volunteers, then with the 96th Pennsylvania Regiment U.S. Volunteers, and finally, in 1864,as an Assistant Adjutant General on the staff of General Bartlett.






A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

For more individuals see the University Archives' collections of personal papers


College Class of 1851

Richards's published commencement oration