Galusha Aaron Grow was a prominent American politician, lawyer, writer and businessman, who served as 24th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1861 to 1863. Elected as a Democrat in congressional elections, he switched to the newly-organized Republican Party when the Democratic Party refused to prohibit the extension of slavery into western territories.
Elected speaker for the 37th Congress, Grow presided over the House during the initial years of the American Civil War.
During the 35th United States Congress, on February 5, 1858, he was physically attacked by Democrat Laurence M. Keitt in the House chambers, leading to a brawl between northerners and southerners. Keitt, offended by Grow's having stepped over to his side of the House chamber, dismissively demanded that Grow sit down, calling him a "black Republican puppy". Grow responded by telling Keitt that "No negro-driver shall crack his whip over me." Keitt became enraged and went for Grow's throat, shouting that he would "choke [him] for that". A large brawl involving approximately fifty representatives erupted on the House floor, ending only when a missed punch from Rep. Cadwallader Washburn upended the hairpiece of Rep. William Barksdale. The embarrassed Barksdale accidentally replaced the wig backwards, causing both sides to erupt in spontaneous laughter.
During his tenure Congress passed the landmark Homestead Act of 1862, which he supported. Grow was defeated for reelection in 1862. For over a century he remained the last incumbent House speaker to be defeated, until Speaker Tom Foley lost his seat in 1994.
He moved to Houston, Texas in 1871, and that year became president of what became known as the International - Great Northern Railroad, a position he held until 1875. He then returned to Pennsylvania and the practice of law from 1875 to 1894.
Grow returned to the United States Congress as a member at-large from Pennsylvania from 1894 to 1903; was the chairman of the committee on education in the 56th Congress.