May 15: William Sharples Derrick (1852)

On May 17, 1852, The National Intelligencer reported the death of William S. Derrick, Chief Clerk in the Department of State. “Throughout the term of his service in the Department he strove to earn promotion, and obtained it, not by courting the acquaintance of those having or likely to have political importance, but by the conscientious and accurate discharge of the duties assigned to him, without any taint of personal servility to his superiors in office, and by employing his leisure in those pursuits which were adapted to inform, expand, and elevate his mind, and to improve his great natural capacity for business. By his death the public has lost a faithful and laborious servant, his immediate family an affectionate husband, father, and friend, his associates in the Department a valuable exemplar, and his friends one whose worth they will always hold in vivid remembrance.”

William Sharples Derrick was born in West Chester, PA. His father, Philip Derrick, was the first Burgess of West Chester. William was well acquainted with the French and Spanish languages and with English literature. He was employed by the State Department from 1827 until his death in 1852 and at “sundry times during that period he performed the duties of Acting Secretary of State an aggregate of 263 days by virtue of presidential appointments.” At the time of his death he was Chief Clerk. During his career William Sharples Derrick served under eight presidents. He was baptized at Epiphany on October 18, 1851 and then died of tuberculosis on May 15, 1852. After services conducted by the Reverend Mr. French at the Church of the Epiphany, he was buried in Congressional Cemetery.

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