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

. (page 33 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ism," in 1914. "World Organization as
Affected by the Nature of the Modern
State," (translated into German and
French) appeared in 191 1. Since his re-
turn to America, with temporary abode
in Washington about two years. Dr. Hill
has written many articles on political and
governmental topics for leading maga-
zines, and has frequently been heard from
the platform upon the same. In the Re-
publican primaries of the State in 1914,
his name was presented for United States
Senator, and, although abroad at the
time and without organized effort in his
behalf, he received a flattering vote there-
for, particularly in Western New York.
He has recently published "The People's
Government" (191 5), and "Americanism:
What It Is" (1916) ; and is preparing
a volume on "International Readjust-
ments."

He was elected a fellow of the Ameri-
can Association for the Advancement of
Science in 1895 ; he is a member of the
American Philosophical Society, Ameri-
can Society of International Law. Ameri-
can Academy of Political and Social Sci-
ence, American Historical Association,
2



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



and is president of the National Associ-
ation for Constitutional Government. He
is a member of the Sons of the American
Revolution, and vice grand commander
of the Society of American Wars. He is
also a member of the following clubs:
Authors, Century (New York), Metro-
politan, Cosmos (Washington) and "Pun-
dit" and Browning (Rochester). He has
been honored with the degree of Doctor
of Laws by Colgate (1883), University of
Pennsylvania (1902) and Union (1902),
and Docteur es Lettres, University of
Switzerland (1900). He married Juliet
Lewis Packer, of Williamsport, Pennsyl-
vania, June 3, 1886.



ROBERTS, Ellis H.,

Journalist, Statesman, Scholar.

No intelligent account of the settle-
ment and progress of Oneida county and
Central New York can fail to note the
contributions thereto made by the thrifty
and adventurous Welshmen who were
among the pioneers of the region. Their
incoming dates from 1798, when a com-
pany of about a dozen of the race took up
land in the town of Steuben from Colonel
Walker, the representative of Baron von
Steuben of Revolutionary fame, to whom
a large domain had been bestowed by a
grateful people. Others followed until
the towns of Steuben and Remsen be-
came practically Welsh communities, and
retain that character to a considerable
extent to this day. Welsh settlements
were founded in Deerfield, Rome, Plain-
field, Nelson, and Waterville, and the
Welsh population of Utica continued to
increase. The Welsh strain is one of the
strongest in the population of that city,
foremost in its business and professional
life, and its high moral tone is due, in large
measure, to Welsh inspirations.

Ellis Henry Rogers, long a molder of
the thought of Central New York, politi-



cally and socially, is of this sturdy stock.
His ancestors were pioneers of progress
in the old country and uncompromising
non-comformists — courageous and inde-
pendent. Michael Jones, of Bala, of
kindred on the paternal side, had prob-
ably more to do than any of his contem-
poraries in the educational and political
awakening of Wales in the last century.
Roberts, Tyddynddeen and Thomas, of
Bangor, noted clergymen, were of the
same stock. On the maternal side. Ellis
descends from the Williams, who re-
sided on the shores of Bala Lake, as ten-
ants of Sir \\'atkin Williams Wynn. A
member of the family was the Rev. John
Williams, a pastor at Sheffield, England,
and a divine of national reputation. In
the British parliament, to-day, are a num-
ber of Mr. Roberts's relations, some of
whom visited him in Washington when
he was Treasurer of the LTnited States.
His father, Watkin, came to this country
in 1816, while the building of the Erie
canal was proceeding. He was a stone
mason and worked upon this mammoth
enterprise. His mother, Gwen (Wil-
liams) Roberts, followed her husband,
with four chldren, two years later, and
the family settled in Utica, where Ellis
Henry was born September 30, 1827. The
father died in 1831 and the struggle of
the widowed mother and fatherless chil-
dren to maintain an existence in a strange
land was a severe one, but, by pluck and
grit, they all attained honorable and suc-
cessful positions in life.

Ellis Henry's preliminary education
was pursued in the elementary schools
and the Free Academy of his native city;
and he entered Yale College in the fall of
1846, from which he was graduated in the
class of 1850, a member of the Alpha
Delta Phi fraternity, having held ex-
cellent rank as a scholar throughout the
course, receiving prizes for English com-
position and winning the Bristed scholar-



213



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



ship for proficiency in the classics and
mathematics. He was advanced to the
master's degree three years later; and
for marked erudition, was laureated Doc-
tor of Laws by Hamilton in 1869, and by
his aliiia niatcr in 1884. He was principal
of the Utica Academy and also teacher of
Latin in the Utica Female Seminary,
1850-51. He married, June 29, 1851,
Elizabeth Morris, of the same goodly
Welsh lineage — a helpful consort for over
fifty years, dying in July, 1903.

His college training inclined him to jour-
nalism and he accepted, in 185 1 , the editor-
ship of the Utica "Morning Herald," then
at the outset of its notable and cogent ca-
reer, which he retained until 1893, also
securing in it a controlling proprietary in-
terest. Dr. Roberts assumed the editorial
chair at a time when government policies
of the utmost moment, including vital moral
issues, were at stake, almost coincidently
with the birth of the Republican party, of
which he was to become an earnest cham-
pion. He was equipped with superior
scholarship, especially well versed in the
history of the Republic and with the polit-
ical and economical problems pressing
for solution. As a writer, he soon ob-
tained wide recognition for his wealth of
knowledge, the precision of his thought
and the force and lucidity of its expres-
sion, and above all for the sincerity of his
convictions. The "Herald," under the di-
rection of Dr. Roberts, gained an exten-
sive patronage and materially inspired
and controlled public opinion, not alone
in Central but also in Northern New
York, in the latter section especially be-
coming the Republican oracle and having
well-nigh a monopoly of circulation,
which the Syracuse press, quite as acces-
sible to it as the "Herald," vainly con-
tested. It is to be added that the "Her-
ald" was also quite as distinguished for
enterprise as a news gatherer as for au-
thority in its editorial columns, rendering



it for years the leading journal of its
locality in all respects. It prominently
supported the administration of Lincoln
in all measures for subduing the rebellion
against the Union, and Dr. Roberts, with
loyalty and love for the martyred Presi-
dent, as a delegate to the Republican Na-
tional Convention in 1864, enthusiastical-
ly favored his renomination ; and when
the lines were drawn between congres-
sional and executive policies of recon-
struction, he was found arrayed with the
congressional leaders, even to urging the
impeachment of President Johnson.

Dr. Roberts was elected to the As-
sembly of 1867, and took a conspicuous
and persuasive part in its deliberations,
especially in efifecting the promotion to
the United States Senate of his then
friend and neighbor, Roscoe Conkling,
who had by a service of four terms, as a
representative in Congress, established
his standing as an ornate and virile ora-
tor ; and, as State Senator Andrew D.
White said, on seconding Conkling's re-
nomination in the Republican legislative
caucus. New York needed a voice in the
Federal Senate. The voice, indeed, did
much for Conkling, but it were to ques-
tion historical verity to doubt that Ellis
H. Roberts did far more by his personal
appeals to produce the desired result than
Conkling's most eloquent forensic utter-
ances. Roberts was indefatigable in his
efforts, not only by articles in the ''Her-
ald,'" but by enlisting nearly the entire
press of the interior in Conkling's behalf,
by standing for the Assembly, at Conk-
ling's instance, and by his industrious can-
vass among his colleagues in that body.
The estrangement between the two that
occurred subsequently need not here l)e
detailed. It is sufficient to say, in the can-
did review, that the principal fault there-
for is not to be imputed to Roberts. In
1S68, Roberts again appeared as a dele-
gate in the Republican National Conven-



214




f(^Xcjb^A.




/






ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



tion and united in the nomination of Gen-
eral Grant for the presidency.

In 1870, Roberts was elected from the
Twenty-first (Oneida) District a Repre-
sentative in the Forty-second Congress ;
and, in 1872, was reelected to the Forty-
third. He spoke in the House as occa-
sion demanded, always with full informa-
tion and decided efifect, in clear, vigorous
English, particularly upon economic and
financial measures, in the discussion of
which he had already shown himself an
authority in his editorials and other writ-
ings.

Since his retirement from Congress,
Dr. Roberts has not held elective office,
but has forcibly and ably vindicated
Republican principles and policies. He
favored, with some hesitation, the re-
election of Grant in 1872, and the nomi-
nation of Hayes in 1876, but strenuously
combatted a third term for Grant in 1880,
acting with that element of his party
which secured the nomination of Garfield
and, in the State, opposing the return of
Conkling and Piatt to the United States
Senate after their resignation therefrom.
Dr. Roberts was a staunch champion of
Blaine in the presidential canvass of 1884
and cordially supported Harrison in that
of 1888. He was appointed by the latter
to the important position of Assistant
Treasurer in New York, of the United
States, and served throughout Harrison's
administration. He was president of the
Franklin National Bank of New York
City from 1893 until 1897, when he was
designated by President McKinley as
Treasurer of the United States, continu-
ing as such until 1905, when he retired
from public life at the age of seventy-
eight years, having filled with eminent
ability the various offices of honor and
responsibility that had been reposed in
him. Interested in the cause of higher
education, he wrote much on the subject.



and was trustee of Hamilton College from
1872 until 1900.

Outside of his journalistic and official
duties, Dr. Roberts has been a prolific
writer upon historical and financial
themes, and also has deserved promi-
nence as a public speaker. He has de-
livered courses of lectures at Cornell Uni-
versity and Hamilton College, and ad-
dresses before the American Bankers'
and several State banking associations,
and the American Association for the Ad-
vancement of Science ; and has been in
constant request as a political orator in
the successive presidential canvasses with
which he was concerned, on notable his-
torical occasions, and as an "after dinner"
speaker. He is the author of "Govern-
ment Reserve, Especially the American
System" (1884), an enlightened exposi-
tion of the subject ; and of "The Planting
and Growth of the Empire State" (1887).
Although an abridgment rather than an
exhaustive review, and necessarily trust-
ing considerably to secondary rather than
original sources, this latter work holds a
leading place among histories of New
York, revealing its author as diligent in
research, philosophical in treatment, en-
gaging in style and impartial in tone. Dr.
Roberts is still (July, 1916) living in
Utica, in hale old age, with faculties un-
impaired and, at times, contributing valu-
able articles to the press.



CHOATE, Joseph Hodges,

Jnrist, Orator, Diplomat.

The splendid gifts of mind and person
that Joseph Hodges Choate has displayed
conspicuously in his long career at the
bar and in high official place are meas-
urably due to his lineage. He comes of
sturdy, intelligent Puritan stock, char-
acterized almost uniformly by physical
longevity and by signal concentration



215



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



and versatility of thought with its effec-
tive expression.

The founder of the American family
was John Choate, a native of England,
who came in 1643 to Massachusetts Bay
while Winthrop was still Governor of the
colony, settled at Chebacco (now Essex)
and was admitted a freeman in 1667.
From him and his wife, Anne, to whom
he was married in 1660, the line of de-
scent runs through their son, Thomas
(1671-1745) first of the family in the an-
cestral estate — Hog or Choate Island —
and representative in the General Court
(1723-25) and his wife, Mary (Varney)
Choate ; through their son, Francis
(1701-77), farmer, church elder and
friend of George Whitefield, and his wife,
Hannah (Perkins) Choate: through their
son, William (1730-85), who was a sea
captain, and his wife, Mary (Giddings)
Choate; through their son, George (1762-
1S26) representative for Ipswich, 1814-
17, and Essex, 1819, and his wife,
Susanna, daughter of Judge Stephen
Choate, of Ipswich ; to Dr. George
Choate, the father of Joseph Hodges
Choate. In collateral branches also the
family has been worthy and often dis-
tinguished, Rufus Choate, a cousin of
Dr. George Choate, with his magnetic
speech, being supremely famous. Dr.
George Choate (1796-1880) was a native
of Essex, a graduate of Harvard College
(1818), a prominent and skillful phy-
sician, and a representative in the Gen-
eral Court for several years. He married
Margaret Manning, a daughter of Gama-
liel Hodges, descended from the immi-
grant of 1630 and of a family honorable
in Massachusetts annals; and to them
Joseph Hodges Choate was born in
Salem, January 24, 1832. In the mater-
nal line Mr. Choate traces his lineage to
Philip English, the first great merchant
of Salem.

His preliminary education was obtained



in the public schools of Salem. He was
graduated from Harvard, in 1852, with
Phi Beta Kappa rank, the fourth scholar
of the class, in which his elder brother,
William Gardner Choate, since a United
States judge of the Southern District of
New York stood first. He was a member
of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, in
whose welfare he has ever retained a
lively interest, frequently the orator at
jts reunions and presiding at its banquets.
He was graduated Bachelor of Law from
the Harvard Law School, in 1854, and
after an additional year of study in the
office of Leverett Saltonstall, in Boston,
was admitted to the Massachusetts bar
in 1855. In the same year he moved to
New York City, whch has since been his
home, was licensed in this State and be-
gan the practice which has continued un-
interruptedly to the present day. He
first entered the office of Scudder &
Carter, the latter an accomplished jurist
for half a century, with whom he re-
mained a very short time when, with a
commendatory letter from Rufus Choate
to William M. Evarts, he was introduced
to the office of Butler, Evarts & South-
niayd of which Mr. Evarts was the head,
in which he remained until 1858, when he
formed a partnership with General Wil-
liam H. L. Barnes, subsequently a bril-
liant lawyer in San Francisco, which was
conducted successfully for a year, under
the style of Choate & Barnes. He then
returned to the Evarts office, as a mem-
ber of the firm designated as Evarts,
Southmayd & Choate. This association
continued until 1884, when it was re-
solved into that of Evarts, Choate &
Beaman, its successor now known as
Evarts, Choate & Sherman, of which the
sons of Mr. Evarts and Mr. Choate are
members.

Steadily rising in repute and augment-
ing in practice, Mr. Choate became the



216



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



recognized "head of the bar" of the me-
tropolis, which is the head of the bar in
the country, when the senior member,
that illustrious lawyer and prince of wits,
gave himself wholly to the public service
as Secretary of State and Senator. Mr.
Choate was equally prominent in trials
at nisi priiis and cases in banc. His deep
analysis of human nature, his discern-
ment of situations and skill in eliciting
evidence rendered him an expert in the
examination of witnesses, while his spark-
ling wit, ready repartee and cogent
appeals mastered juries. His knowledge
of the law, his familiarity with principles
and precedents, the precision and solidity
of his address and the urbanity of his
acumen were also singularly persuasive
with the bench ; and this not alone in the
Appellate Courts of the State, but in the
highest tribunal of the land before which
he has argued many celebrated cases.
Among the cases in different jurisdictions
that he has managed several may be men-
tioned without, in all instances, specify-
ing issues, to wit : Fuardent z's. di Ces-
nola, in which he defended successfully
the genuineness of the Cypriote antiqui-
ties in the Metropolitan Museum of Art ;
Stewart vs. Huntington, concerning the
contracts and operations of the Central
Pacific ; Hunt x's. Stevens ; Laidlaw I's.
Sage ; the Maynard New York election
frauds of 1891-92 ; the validity of the
Standard Oil and American Tobacco
trusts ; the Cruger, Vanderbilt, Tilden,
Stewart, Hoyt, Drake and Hopkins will
cases ; and various others in the Admir-
alty courts.

As he has been a maker of the organic
law of the commonwealth, as will later
be seen, he has also been the constant
interpreter of the national constitution
as witnessed in many issues before the
national tribunal. Among these are the
following: The case of the Philadelphia



Fire Association z's. New York, touch-
ing the constitutionality of the so-called
reciprocal and retaliatory taxation laws
against foreign corporations enacted by
many States; the Kansas prohibition
law ; the Chinese exclusion cases, with
the pregnant question as to the right of
the government to exclude or deport im-
migrants of that race; the California irri-
gation cases ; the constitutionality of the
Acts of many western States ; the Massa-
chusetts fisheries cases ; the constitu-
tional right of a State to protect fisheries
in arms of the sea and within and beyond
the three-mile limit ; the income tax cases,
which involved the constitutionality of
,the Income Tax Law of 1894. Besides
these, Mr. Choate has argued many other
important cases before the high courts
of his own and other States. With John
C. Bullitt and Anson Maltbie he achieved
a signal triumph in 1889 in the able de-
fense of General Fitz-John Porter before
the commission appointed by President
Hayes to inquire into the justice of the
sentence which in 1863 had deprived Gen-
eral Porter of his military rank for alleged
misconduct in battle, and for the reversal
of which General Porter had made the
most strenuous efforts for many years.
Mr. Choate not only fully established
Porter's innocence, but also procured the
restoration of his rank. The lawyer's
versatility was further displayed in his
presentation of the case for the defendant
before the naval court-martial appointed
to try Captain McCalla for certain alleged
breaches of the naval regulations ; and a
still further illustration of that quality
of his mind is to be found in his diplo-
matic conduct of the investigation under-
taken by the New York Yacht Club of
the Defender- Valkyrie controversy, upon
charges made by Lord Dunraven as to
the conduct of the international race be-
tween those yachts.

Mr. Choate has been most honorably

17



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



recognized by His brethren of the bar in
the presidencies of the Harvard Law
School Association, the New York City,
New York State and American Bar asso-
ciations. He has been made Doctor of
Laws by many leading colleges and uni-
versities both in the United States and
Great Britain, to wit: Amherst (1887),
Harvard (1888), Yale (1901). Williams
(1905), Pennsylvania (1908), Union
(1909), McGill (1913), Cambridge (1900),
Edinburgh (1900), St. Andrews (1902),
Glasgow (1904), and Toronto (1915), and
in 1902 Oxford University conferred upon
him the degree of Doctor of Civil Law.
He was elected, April 10, 1905, a bencher
of the Middle Temple, that most select
and honorable legal body, a distinction
never bestowed upon any other Ameri-
ican. He is also a foreign honorary fel-
low of the Royal Society of Literature, a
member of the American Philosophical
Society, a trustee of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art and of the American Mu-
seum of Natural History since the foun-
dation of each ; vice-president of the
American Society for the Judicial Settle-
ment of International Disputes ; Am-
bassador and first United States delegate
to the International Peace Congress at
the Hague (1907); trustee of the Equita-
ble Life Assurance Society ; governor of
the New York Hospital, 1877; president
of the New York State Charities Aid
Association ; member of the Massachu-
setts Colonial Society; president of the
New England Society of New York
(1867-71): of the Harvard Club of New
York (1874-78); of the Union League
Club of New York (1873-77) ^"d is now
president of the Century Association. In
addition to those already mentioned, he
is also a member of the following clubs :
University, Alpha Delta Phi, City, Met-
ropolitan, Riding, New York Athletic,
and Down Town.

These various associations — legal, let-
tered, artistic, social and humane — which



have honored him and he has honored
reveal at once the wide range of his activ-
ities and the insistent call for their serv-
ice. If he may be estimated by his tri-
umphs at the bar; his constant thought
and kindly consideration for its younger
members ; his identification with great
enterprises ; his courage and honesty in
municipal afifairs ; his secret, as well as
open, beneficences, for no good and needy
cause ever appealed to him in vain ; his
catholic views and quick sympathies,
coupled with independence in thought
and action ; his culture in arts and letters ;
his social graces, his genial bearing and
fascinating address, he may be fairly dis-
tinguished as the first citizen of the me-
tropolis as well as the leader of the bar.
Enchanting as a guest and peerless as
the host at the banquet board, he is,
like Macgregor, the head of the table
wherever he sits. If a notable from
abroad visits our shores, he is chosen to
bid him welcome. If a philanthropic,
educational or clearly political movement
is to be advanced he is summoned for
the energizing event. If an historic occa-
sion is to be observed or respect paid to
the memory of a departed worthy, his is
the informing utterance or the fitting
tribute. Among his most notable ora-
torical efforts may be mentioned that at
the Metropolitan Fair in New York City,
in 1864, that at the unveiling of the Far-
ragut statue in New York (1881) and of
Rufus Choate in the Boston Court House
(1898), a labor of love, as he has often
declared that he owes to Rufus Choate
more than to any other man or men, to
his example and inspiration, to his sym-
pathy and helping hand, whatever suc-
cess has attended his own professional
efforts ; on the "Trial by Jury" before the
American Bar Association (1898) ; on
Leverett Saltonstall (Boston, 1898) ; on
Richard H. Dana, 191 5, and the famous
classic on Abraham Lincoln.

Politically Dr. Choate has always been



218



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



a Republican, the attainment of his ma-
jority and the birth of the party being
nearly coeval. A champion of its prin-
ciples, he has taken the stump in its be-
half in many campaigns, but has not
hesitated to criticize its policies, when
they seemed to him unwise, or its local
leadership when it failed in rectitude of
conduct. In other words he is an inde-
pendent Republican ; uniformly the ad-
vocate of purity in government and the
scourge of abuses and corruption by
whomsoever perpetrated. Thus he was
prominent in the committee of seventy
which, in 1871, broke up the Tweed ring
and punished its chief malefactors. He has
steadily refused to stand for office, once
only consenting, in 1897, to be an inde-
pendent Republican candidate for United
States senator, but was defeated by what
is known as the "organization." He has,
however, accepted two positions of ex-
alted import, among many tendered him,
the one as a reviser of the organic law of
the commonwealth and the other as the
representative of the Republic in the
most important post in the diplomatic