Matthew Quay (September 30, 1833 - May 28, 1904) was an immensely powerful Pennsylvania political boss; "kingmaker" (Benjamin Harrison, 1888). "Boss" Quay's political principles and actions stood in contrast to an unusually attractive personality.
Quay was born in Dillsburg, York County, Pennsylvania. He graduated at Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in 1850 and was admitted to the bar in 1854. He served in various capacities in the American Civil War; Congress awarded him the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the battle of Fredericksburg. From 1865-1867 he was a member of the state House of Representatives. From 1869, when he had served as secretary of the Republican State Committee, until his death, he was the most influential Republican politician in Pennsylvania. He became Secretary of the Commonwealth for 1873-1878 and again in 1879-1882, recorder of Philadelphia in 1878-1879, and state treasurer in 1886-1887. He became chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1888, and was a member of the United States Senate from 1887-1899, but he failed to succeed himself, partly due to an accusation that he had been instrumental in the misapplication of public funds deposited in the People's Bank, in which he was interested. He was appointed Senator ad interim by the Governor, but the Senate refused to admit him. He was nominated to succeed himself by the Republican State Convention in 1901 for the term to expire in 1905, and was reĆ«lected.