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05/09/2021 01:26 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate

John J MacFarlane



Session Position District Party
1883-1884 4 Republican
1885-1886 4 Republican
1887-1888 4 Republican
1889-1890 4 Republican
 Counties   Philadelphia


1846 - 1930

Born in Philadelphia, June 5, 1846; John MacFarlane attended public schools; Central High School, Philadelphia, 1863; officer at Girard College, seven years; principal, Chestnut Hill Grammar School, ten years; insurance business; state Emergency Militia, 1862 and 1863; and elected to the state Senate in 1882, serving two four-year terms.  MacFarlane’s colorful career was made moreso during the Philadelphia Bank-Run of 1890.  MacFarlane, served as president of the American Life Insurance Co. in that year, and for sometime previous to that.  A number of associated financial institutions, including MacFarlane’s “American,” approached insolvency, due to mismanagement and embezzlement. MacFarlane left Philadelphia for Brazil in 1890, reportedly with a sizable quantity of American Insurance funds. 
"Dec 18, 1890: PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 16. -- The whereabouts of ex-Senator John J. Macfarlane was discovered today. The fugitive figurehead of the picturesque combination that looted the American Life Insurance Company, the Bank of America, and their allied institutions is living in quiet luxury at Rio Janeiro, Brazil, the attractive centre of a coterie of American citizens and the honored guest of the United States Consul."  New York Times

He returned to America within three years (1893), surrendered; pleaded guilty; and served four years at Eastern Penitentiary.  Upon his release, a rehabilitated MacFarlane became a scholar and popular historical author, with little apparent interest in the intrigues of business.  The Hon. MacFarlane died in 1930.