Charles E. (Charles Elliott) Fitch.

Encyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) online

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Online LibraryCharles E. (Charles Elliott) FitchEncyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) → online text (page 32 of 58)
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memorial tribute by Dr. John L. Hefl^ron,
which appeared in the "New York State
Journal of Medicine," in November, 1914:

Dr. Mercer, of all men I ever knew, best illus-
trated the virtues of the middle course in life so
exquisitely voiced by Horace. He was of medium
height and of medium weight. He had strongly
chiseled features, the English clear complexion,
kindly blue eyes, lips red as a cherry, and ruddy
brown beard and hair, lu.xuriant and but slightly
grey at the time of his death. ♦ * * He had
an inquiring mind, capable of accurate if not
rapid observations, and he had perfect intellectual
poise. He was rarely enthusiastic, but he had a
deep and abiding interest in every subject worthy
a man's thought and action. His industry was
indefatigable and was always guided by sound
judgment. He was by nature temperate in all
things, and was never tempted to excess of any
kind, excepting perhaps work in younger and
middle life. It was but natural that such a man
should accumulate a treasure house of knowledge
and should mature judgments that were sound
and increasingly convincing. * * * He early
learned the withering effects of dogma, and was
one of the earnest advocates of intellectual and
spiritual liberty of thought. * * * Dr. Mer-
cer was not narrow. The interests outside of his
chosen profession were many and various, how
various only those most intimate with him can
judge. * * * J never came into Dr. Mercer's
presence in his office, in his home, in the college,
or in medical meetings, but what I was conscious
of being near one who radiated truth and justice
and fraternal love. * * * Here is a man
whose life is a positive inspiration to everyone of
us. He had no extraordinary gifts of either
body or of mind, but he had perfect self-control.
He ordered his daily life with judgment, not with
caprice. He weighed the value of things, and de-
veloped the keenest perception of the relative
importance of even the minor things in life. He
cultivated methods, and might have been one who
inspired the present movement for efficiency. He
was industrious, and did not allow himself to
waste a moment. He cared for his body with in-
telligence, by correct habits of eating and by
observing a due proportion between work and re-
laxation. He looked ahead and kept his knowl-
edge up to the minute.

MERCER, A. Clifford, M. D., F. R. M. S.,

Physician, Scientist.

A. Clifford Mercer, M. D., F. R. M. S.,
son of the preceding, was born at Syra-
cuse, New York, July 5, 1855. He at-



tended the public schools of his native
city from i860 to 1875, then matriculated
at Syracuse University from which he
was graduated in the class of 1878 with
the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He
was a post-graduate student at St.
Thomas' Hospital, London, England, in

He was instructor in patliology in the
College of Medicine, Syracuse Univer-
sity, from 1880 to 1886, and Professor of
Pathology from 1886 to 1893. He was a
student and held clinical appointments in
the Great Ormond Street Hospital for
Sick Children, London, England, in 1890
and 1891, was Professor of Clinical
Pediatrics in the College of Medicine,
Syracuse University, from 1893 to 1904,
and since 1904 has been Professor of
Pediatrics. For seventeen years he was a
member and secretary of the medical and
surgical staff of the Hospital of the House
of the Good Shepherd. He is consulting
physician at the Children's Clinic of the
Syracuse Free Dispensary and to the
Babies' Summer Camp of the Visiting
Nurses' Association, and physician to the
Children's Pavilion of the Syracuse Hos-
pital for Women and Children.

He was for years treasurer of the Col-
lege of Medicine and of its Alumni Asso-
ciation, and of the Medical Association of
Central New York. He has served as
president of the American Microscopical
Society, the Central New York Micro-
scopical Club, the Onondaga Medical So-
ciety, the Syracuse Medical Association,
the Syracuse Academy of Medicine, the
Milk Commission of the Onondaga
Medical Society (responsible, under New
York State law, for the maintenance of
national standard requirements in the
production and transportation of certified
milk) and the board of managers of the
Onondaga Sanatorium for Tuberculosis.
He has repeatedly served on public health

comjnittees of medical societies and the
Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, and is a
member of the advisory committee of the
Syracuse Bureau of Health. He was
health ofificer of Syracuse for three years
(1883-85). The selection of an exception-
ally beautiful and suitable site for the
Onondaga Sanatorium for Tuberculosis,
which for a long time met with wide and
bitter opposition, was finally brought
about largely by the incessant work of
Dr. Mercer and his professional co-

He is also a life fellow of the Royal
Microscopical Society, London, England,
a member of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, the Amer-
ican Medical Association. Alpha Omega
Alpha (honorary medical society). Na-
tional Association for the Study and Pre-
vention of Tuberculosis, National Asso-
ciation of Medical Milk Commissions.
New Y'ork State Medical Society, Central
New York Medical Association, Thurs-
day Night Club (medical), Onondaga
Historical Association, Syracuse Acad-
emy of Science, University Club and
Citizens' Club. He is an honorary mem-
ber of the Syracuse Botany Club and
corresponding member of the Rochester
(New York) Academy of Science.

When Dr. Mercer was president of the
American Microscopical Society a sketch
of his life work by Professor S. H. Gage,
of Cornell University, appeared in the
"American Monthly Microscopical Jour-
nal," February, 1896, from which the fol-
lowing are extracts :

* * * Thus surrounded by the microscopical
influences of his father's office, enjoying the ac-
quaintance of the famous optician, Charles A.
Spencer, and Spencer's Syracuse friend, Willard
Twitchell, it was only natural that very early
there was awakened in the boy the keenest in-
terest in the microscope and its revelations. In
the Syracuse high school in 1874 and 1875 an



added interest in this and in photography de-
veloped under the practical teaching of Dr. Wal-
ter A. Brownell. From this period may be dated
Dr. Mercer's career in photo-niicrograph'y, the
first apparatus being constructed by Charles A.
Spencer after Mercer's drawings. His interest
in photo-micrography has never flagged and
many members of the American Microscopical
Society feel under deep obligation to him for help
and suggestions. He has not only used this beau-
tiful art for scientific purposes but has made ex-
cellent use of it in demonstrating the truth of his
conclusions in courts of justice.

After receiving the degree of M. D. from Syra-
cuse University in 1878, he spent about two and
one-half years in St. Thomas Hospital and Medi-
cal School in London, England, where he was a
pupil in pathology of Dr. W. S. Greenfield, now
professor of pathology in the University of
Edinburgh. After becoming assistant to Dr.
Greenfield in the Brown Institution, Dr. Mercer
cut and mounted the first sections of tuberculous
joints studied in England and furnished the ma-
terial described by Mr. John Croft in Vol. xxxii
(1881) of the transactions of the Pathological
Society of London.

While in London he became acquainted with
Dr. Lionel S. Beale, and revised for him "Part
v.. On Taking Photographs of Microscopic
Objects" of his well-known book, "How to Work
With the Microscope." On Dr. Beale's nomina-
tion he was made a fellow of the Royal Micro-
scopical Society. He found a warm personal
friend in the late Dr. John Matthews, editor of
the second edition of the "Preparation and
Mounting of Microscopical Objects," by Thomas
Davis, and always recalls with gratitude the
demonstration which Mr. John E. Ingpen gave
him of the Abbe diffraction theory of microscopic
vision. This was before the theory had become
generally known to the microscopical world.

During this period and a subsequent visit to
London for professional study. Dr. Mercer had
the good fortune to be brought in friendly rela-
tions with Dr. R. L. Maddox, Mr. E. M. Nelson
and Mr. Andrew Pringle, England's most skill-
ful photo-micrographers. With a mind prepared
and open as was Dr. Mercer's the association
with these masters of the photo-micrographic art
could only be productive of good, and our own
country has been the gainer thereby, for Dr.
Mercer is most generous in freely giving. To
Dr. Maddox, the discoverer of the present dry
plate process in photography, he is indebted for
a share of the suggestive, helpful and generous
correspondence with which that Nestor of photo-

micrography has, for many years, favored his

fellow workers on both sides of the Atlantic —

with its warmth of friendship and stimulus to

progressive work.


He has been active in the practice of his pro-
fession and has prepared papers which find an
honored place in the medical literature of the
country. He has served in various positions of
honor and trust in medical societies thus showing
that he possesses the esteem and confidence of
his professional brethren. While he fills an
honored place in the medical profession and his
main energy and work lie in that direction his
interests are very broad, and he has a keen appre-
ciation of the ultimate gain to medicine of the
pursuit of pure science, although the connection
may seem remote to those who cannot see the
invisible threads that bind all truth into a har-
monious whole. He has also a keen love of na-
ture for her own sake, and while studying for his
degree in medicine took up the miscroscopical
study of the mosses as a part of the work of the
Syracuse Botanical Club, and later was elected
an honorary member of that club.


He became a member of the American Micro-
scopical Society under its earlier name (American
Society of Microscopists) in 1882. He has attended
the majority of the annual meetings since then,
often as the writer well knows at considerable
inconvenience. He has furnished articles to the
"Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society" and
to photographic journals, and in nearly every
volume of the proceedings of the society of which
he is now president may be found one or more
articles from his pen. The article in the proceed-
ings for 1886 "Photo-micrograph versus Micro-
photograph," furnished the information on which
the definitions of the words in the Century Dic-
tionary and in Dr. G. M. Gould's Illustrated Dic-
tionary of Medicine are founded. The Syracuse
solid watch glass for microscopical purposes de-
signed by him finally solved the problem of a
watch glass for the niicroscopist and there is
hardly a histological or microscopical laboratory
in the country that does not count these watch
glasses as an indispensable part of its equipment.

Dr. Mercer has also designed several
pieces of apparatus which have been used
in microscopical, photographic and x-ray
work. He has also devoted considerable
time to experimental work in photo-
micrography and roentgenology and is



the author of "An Experimental Study of
Aperture as a Factor in Microscopic
Vision," an expansion of his presidential
address before the American Microscop-
ical Society in 1896. In recent years his
chief interest has been in pediatrics,
diseases of infants and children, to which
he has given most of his time and thought
in college, hospital, dispensary and
private practice.

SKINNER, Charles Rufus,

Journalist, Legislator, Edncator.

Charles Rufus Skinner was born at
Union Square, Oswego county. New
York, August 4, 1844. son of Avery and
Charlotte Prior (Stebbins) Skinner, and
a descendant of worthy New England
ancestry. Avery Skinner was a native of
New Hampshire, a farmer by occupation,
settled in Watertown, New York, in 1816,
from whence he removed to Oswego
county, New York, in 1826. He was
postmaster at Union Square, which place
he settled and name, for fifty years, hav-
ing been appointed by John Quincy

Charles Rufus Skinner was brought up
on his father's farm, attended the district
school in his native town until his six-
teenth year, after which he accepted the
position of teacher in a neighboring
school, assisted in the work of the post
office at Watertown, New York, and in
various other ways obtained sufficient
capital to enable him to pursue his educa-
tion further. He became a student in the
Clinton Liberal Institute, and later in the
Mexico Academy, New York, from which
he was graduated in 1866, the valedictor-
ian of his class, and during the following
year he acted as teacher in the same
institution. In December, 1867, he went
to New York City and took charge of the
agency of the Walter A. Wood Mowing
N Y— Vol IV— 14 209

and Reaping Machine Company, but re-
mained only three years, his father being
in such ill health that he was obliged to
return home to manage the farm. In
1870 he became a resident of Watertown,
New York, and until 1874 was part owner,
business manager and city editor of the
Watertown "Daily Times and Reformer."
He was a member of the Board of Educa-
tion of Watertown from, 1875 to 1884;
member of the New York Assembly from
1876 to i88i from Jefferson county, dur-
ing which time he served as chairman of
the committee on public printing and
railroads, and as member of the commit-
tees on cities, insurance, internal affairs,
etc. In 1877 h^ introduced and pushed to
its passage the bill prohibiting frequent
changes in text-books in schools, and in
1879 introduced a bill to reduce legislative
expenses, and an amendment to the con-
stitution to bring about biennial sessions
of the Legislature. This resolution
passed one Legislature, but in the follow-
ing year was defeated in the Senate.
This proposition was favored by Gov-
ernor Cornell in his message of 1882, and
urged by Governor Black in 1898. In
1879-80 Mr. Skinner was active in advo-
cating the anti-discrimination freight bill,
and the measure for five-cent fares on the
New York elevated railroads. In 1878 he
served on a special committee of the
Assembly to consider and report on the
State normal schools. He was a member
of the Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth
Congresses, 1881-85, representing Jeffer-
son, Lewis and Herkimer counties, where
he was instrumental in securing the re-
duction of letter postage from three
to two cents, was the author of the bill
providing for the special delivery system
and the passage of the law giving letter
carriers a vacation. He opposed the
Chinese restrictive act, urging in a power-
ful speech that the United States was


bound to keep the terms of the treaty-
made with China ; made speeches in favor
of prompt action to suppress polygamy,
and against the Morrison tariff bill in
1883, and was active in all debates on
post office questions. In 1884 he was
appointed on the board of visitors at
West Point with General Rosecrans,
Colonel Waring and others. In 1885,
after his term in Congress expired, he
edited the Watertown "Daily Repub-
lican" and served in that capacity until
January, 1886, and then for a short time
was city editor of the Watertown "Daily
Times." He was Deputy State Superin-
tendent of Public Instruction from 1886
to 1892; supervisor of teachers' institutes
and training classes from 1892 to 1895;
State Superintendent of Public Instruc-
tion from April 7, 1895, ^o 1904- and was
elected president of the National Educa-
tion Association at its meeting in Buflfalo
in 1896. Dr. Skinner's administration as
Superintendent of Public Instruction re-
vealed a marked enthusiasm in the cause
of popular education, a sincere devotion
to its interests and forceful methods of
promoting them. He was zealous in up-
holding the integrity of his department
against all assaults upon it and consist-
ently advocated the placing of all tax-
supported schools within its control. A
few of the significant events of his tenure
was the proposal of an educational quali-
fication for school commissioners (not
perfected) ; the fixing of the statutory
school age at from five to eighteen years ;
the observance, in 1895, o^ ^^^ centennial
of the law establishing common schools;
the act of 1895 requiring the display of
the "Stars and Stripes" upon the school-
houses of the State ; the commemoration
of the one hundredth birthday. May 14,
1895, of the great educator, Horace
Mann ; the judicial decision in the Water-
vliet case, affirming the power of the

State to compel a municipality, or school
district, to provide and maintain ade-
quate educational facilities, and forbid-
ding teachers to wear sectarian dress in
schools ; the satisfactory execution of the
compulsory education law, enacted in
1894; and the enlargement of the num-
ber of State scholarships in Cornell Uni-
versity from 128 to 150, to conform
to the apportionment of assembly dis-
tricts under the constitution of 1894.
While State Superintendent, Dr. Skin-
ner made educational visits and ad-
dresses in every county of the State,
and in many neighboring States. He
served as assistant appraiser of the port
of New York from 1906 to 191 1; was
librarian of the New York Assembly,
1914; and since 1915 has been legislative
librarian in charge of a library formed by
the consolidation of the Senate and As-
sembly libraries.

Dr. Skinner is a life member of the
New York State Press Association, and
has frequently been delegated to repre-
sent it in the meetings of the National
Editorial Association. He has been a
member of the Fort Orange Club of
Albany, the Republican Club of New
York City, the Union League of Brooklyn
and the Thousand Island Club of Alex-
andria Bay. He was a trustee of St.
Lawrence University and of the Albany
Home School for the Deaf. He received
the degrees: Master of Arts from Hamil-
ton College, 1889; Doctor of Laws from
Colgate University, 1895 ; Doctor of
Literature from Tufts College, 1901. He
is the author of: "Commercial Advan-
tages of Watertown, New York," 1876;
"New York Question Book," 1890;
"Arbor Day Manual," 1891 ; "Manual of
Patriotism for the Schools of New York,"
1900; and "The Bright Side," 1909.

Dr. Skinner married, October 16, 1873,
at Watertown, New York, Elizabeth



Baldwin, daughter of David W. and
Laura (Merriman) Baldwin, of Water-
town. Seven children have been added
to his household, four sons and three
daughters. Three sons and one daughter
are living: Harold Baldwin and Charles
Rufus, Jr., are connected with the New
York Edison Company ; Albert Merriman
is an architect in Watertown ; Alice died
in 18S2; Bessie, in 1889; a son died in
infancy ; Elizabeth was married in Sep-
tember, 1915, to Lieutenant Dana
Palmer, of the Third United States In-

HILL, David Jayne,

Educator, Diplomat, Historian.

David Jayne Hill, distinguished as edu-
cator, accomplished as diplomat, brilliant
as orator and illustrious as author, was
born in Plainfield, New Jersey, June 10,
1850, son of the Rev. Daniel T. and Lydia
Ann (Thompson) Hill, grandson of Isaac
Hill, whose ancestors came from England
about 1640,

David Jayne Hill acquired his prelim-
inary education in the public schools of
his native town, and this knowledge was
supplemented by a course at the Univer-
sity of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (now
Bucknell) from which he was graduated
in 1874, with the degree of A. B., receiv-
ing the degree of A. M. from the same
institution in 1877. Succeeding courses
of study in the universities of Berlin and
Paris, he became an instructor in Ancient
Languages at Bucknell University ; was
Crozer Professor of Rhetoric there from
1877 until 1879; and president of the uni-
versity from 1879 until 1888, attaining
this position before he was thirty years
of age. Therein, he was eminently suc-
cessful in increasing the resources, at-
tracting students, advancing the prestige
of the institution, and securing for him-

self a place among the leading educators
of the land. In 1888, he was called to the
presidency and the Burbank chair of In-
tellectual and Moral Philosophy in the
University of Rochester, as successor to
Dr. Anderson.

Dr. Hill's administration of this office
was especially able and noteworthy. To
wide knowledge and a signal faculty of
imparting it, constraining the esteem of
students, he added a gracious personality,
winning their affection; and, on the ad-
ministrative side, kept the aiTairs of the
institution in excellent order; while out-
side of his official duties, he gained a
splendid reputation as a public speaker.
A master of his themes and of the Eng-
lish tongue, his addresses were compact,
in clear and telling phrase, chaste and
sparkling in wit. A reference to one of
these is pertinent as relative to his future
career. In the presidential campaign of
1S92, William McKinley spoke at a Re-
publican meeting and was banqueted at
the leading social club in Rochester, the
principal speech at the latter gathering,
aside from that of the guest of honor,
being made by Dr. Hill, whose thought-
ful and graceful remarks greatly im-
pressed the coming president of five years
later, initiated a cordial friendship be-
tween the two, and was not without bear-
ing upon the invitation to the university
president to accept the second place in
the State Department when McKinley
had the opportunity to recognize Hill's
ability as a publicist.

Even before his Rochester residence,
Dr. Hill had established a national repu-
tation as an author. He published his
"Elements of Rhetoric" in 1877, the
"Science of Rhetoric" in 1886, and the
"Elements of Psychology" in 1886 — all
extensively adopted as text books in
schools and colleges, and, by the way,
quite remunerative to the author in

21 1


royalties. His "Life of Washington
Irving" appeared in 1877 and that of
William Cullen Bryant in 1878 — con-
densed, but admirable and appreciative,
biographies of each. While still in
Rochester, he published "Social Influence
of Christianity" (1888), "Principles and
Fallacies of Socialism" (1888) and
"Genetic Philosophy" (1893), In i896,he
resigned as president of the university, in-
tending to pursue historical studies
abroad. His departure was keenly re-
gretted, not only by the authorities and
students, but by the community which
he had served in all good works as a citi-
zen, and especially by its social and
lettered classes to whom he had become
endeared. Retaining his legal residence
in Rochester, he spent nearly three years
mainly in Paris and Berlin in the study
of philosophy and public law, laying the
foundation for the elaborate volumes re-
lating thereto, which he published sub-

He was recalled to this country, Octo-
ber I, 1898, when President McKinley
appointed him First Assistant Secretary
of State to succeed John B. Moore, and
while in the State Department he also
served as Professor of European Diplo-
macy in the School of Comparative Juris-
prudence and Diplomacy at Washington,
D. C, from 1899 until 1903. He was then
commissioned as Envoy Extraordinary
and Minister Plenipotentiary of the
United States to Switzerland from 1903
to 1905 ; to the Netherlands from 1905
until 1908; Ambassador Extraordinary
and Plenipotentiary to Germany from
1908 until 191 1. He became a member
of the Permanent Administrative Council
of the Hague Tribunal, and delegate to
the Second Peace Conference at the
Hague, 1907. Of his diplomatic service it
is needless to speak ; it was enlightened
in full degree, and faithful to the coun-
try's interests, held in high esteem by the


representatives of all nations and the
courts to which he was accredited, and
abounding in kindly offices to his fellow
countrymen, visiting the various em-

His pen still busy, he gave to the press
"A Primer of Finance;" "The Concep-
tion and Realization of Neutrality"
(1902); "Life and Work of Hugo Gro-
tius" (1902) ; and "The Contemporary
Development of Diplomacy" (1904). In
1905 he issued the first volume of his
great work, "A History of Diplomacy in
the International Development of Eu-
rope," entitling it "The Struggle for Uni-
versal Empire ;" the second volume,
"The Establishment of Territorial Sover-
eignty," followed in 1906; and the third,
"The Diplomacy of the Age of Absolut-

Online LibraryCharles E. (Charles Elliott) FitchEncyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) → online text (page 32 of 58)