Nathaniel Paine.

Memoir of George Frisbie Hoar (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 1)
Online LibraryNathaniel PaineMemoir of George Frisbie Hoar (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 1)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


MEMOIE



OF



GEORGE FRISBIE HOAR







Qass Li



Book



MEMOIR



OF



GEORGE FRISBIE HOAR.

tn



PREPARED FOR

THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY.



;••



BOSTON:

1905.



EU4
>Htf



[fifty copies printed.]

Gif
TV P&UL/V\Jt.

!7Je'05






MEMOIR

OF

GEOKGE FRISBIE HOAR.

BY NATHANIEL PAINE AND G. STANLEY HALL.



In preparing this memoir the committee to whom it was
assigned have had in mind the fact that Senator Lodge has
already made a communication to the Society in commemora-
tion of Senator Hoar, and that his public career has been char-
acterized by many of his colleagues in the special services held
by the Senate of the United States and the House of Repre-
sentatives, before the Massachusetts Legislature, and also in
no less than forty-seven hundred editorials in as many Ameri-
can newspapers, which have been collected ; therefore the
committee will confine themselves for the most part to Mr.
Hoar's private life as known to those who saw the most of him
in and about Worcester.

George Frisbie Hoar was the son of Samuel and Sarah Sher-
man Hoar, and was born at Concord, Massachusetts, August
29, 1826. He graduated at Harvard University in the class of
1846, and in 1849 became a resident of Worcester. In his
Autobiography he says : " I chose Worcester as a place to live in
for the reason that that city and county were the strongholds
of the new anti-slavery party, to which cause I was devoted
with all my heart and soul." One of his first public speeches
was at an anti-slavery meeting in the City Hall of Worcester,
at which Judge Charles Allen presided. On coming to
Worcester he became a member of the Worcester Bar, and
three years later entered into partnership with Hon. Emory
Washburn. Later he was a law partner of the late Attorney-
General Devens and J. Henry Hill.

He very soon showed an interest in municipal affairs, and
was twice nominated for Mayor of Worcester, but declined to
accept the nomination. He took an active part in the politics



of the time, and for several years was chairman of the county
committee. In 1852 he was elected a representative from
Worcester to the General Court, was State Senator in 1857,
and made chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

His fellow citizens highly appreciated his ability and states-
manlike qualities, and in 1868 made him a Member of Con-
gress, where he served until the Massachusetts Legislature
elected him to the United States Senate in 1877, of which body
he was a member until his death, September 30, 1901.

Very soon after settling in Worcester he became interested
in its literary and educational institutions, which interest he
maintained until his death.

In August, 1852, he presided at a meeting of those inter-
ested in forming a society for the benefit of the young men of
the city, which was organized under the name of " The Young
Men's Library Association," and was a prominent factor in
Worcester literary life for many years. Mr. Hoar was chosen
vice-president of the new society, and from 1853 to 1856 was
its president. In the latter year, this society was united with
the Worcester Lyceum, an association founded in 1829 for the
purpose of conducting a course of lectures during the winter
months. He was president of the Library Association at the
time the union was effected, and took great interest in its con-
summation. It was the Lyceum and Library Association that
was largely instrumental in the establishment of the Free
Public Library of Worcester. With his usual public spirit, Mr.
Hoar started a subscription for the support of this library, and
was a director from 1862 to 1867 and president in 1866-1867.

He was a member of the first board of directors of the
" Free Institute of Industrial Science," now the Worcester
Polytechnic Institute, and remained a member of the board of
trustees until his death.

Though a young man, only twenty-seven years of age, his
antiquarian and historical interests caused him to be elected a
member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1853, of which
he was president from 1881 to 1888, and vice-president from
the latter date until his death. His voice was often heard at
meetings of the society, and he prepared valuable historical
and antiquarian papers which were published in the Proceed-
ings. Representing the Antiquarian Society, he took an active
part in 1896-1897 in the return to this country of the Bradford



manuscript, " The Log of the Mayflower." Among the papers
presented by him were " President Garfield's New England
Ancestry," in October, 1881 ; " Obligations of New England
to the County of Kent," in April, 1885 ; and " The Connecti-
cut Compromise," April, 1902. He retained his interest in the
society until his death, and in his last illness expressed the
hope that he might be able to prepare one more paper which
he had in mind for its Proceedings.

He was chosen a member of the Massachusetts Historical
Society in November, 1886, and was always interested in its
objects, and attended meetings whenever his duties at Wash-
ington would permit. He often made remarks at the meetings,
besides preparing special papers. One of the most important
of these was on " Possible Changes in the Course of History."
He also prepared a memoir of Judge Horace Gray, and in
May, 1901, spoke at some length on the return of the Bradford
manuscript.

Upon the incorporation of Clark University, in 1887, he was
selected by the founder as one of the trustees, and was at once
chosen vice-president of the board. Upon the death of the
founder, he became president of the board, and held this office
at the time of his death. It was through his instrumentality
that Dr. G. Stanley Hall was selected as its president, and
brought to Worcester from the Johns Hopkins University,
where for eight years he had held a professorship.

Mr. Hoar always took a deep interest in the affairs of the
University, to which he contributed a large number of books
and pamphlets, and was an earnest advocate of the policy of
advanced academic work and original research. Upon the
death of the founder, he cheerfully assumed the chief burden
of the very grave problem involved in his will. It was chiefly
through his agency that the estate was finally settled in the
interests of the University, — the will given a clear and legal
interpretation according to the founder's purpose, — a col-
legiate department established, and the Hon. Carroll D. Wright
brought from the head of the Labor Bureau at Washington to
the presidency of the undergraduate department, in which
Senator Hoar before his death took a very deep interest. His
own addresses at the inauguration of President Hall in 1899,
and of President Wright in 1902, will always be remembered
for their earnestness and breadth of view by all who heard or



6

read them. Of all the institutions in Worcester that enjoyed
the benefit of his counsels and his services, none has occasion to
remember them with profounder gratitude than the University.

Mr. Hoar's scholarship and his literary abilities were rec-
ognized by several learned bodies. In 1873 the honorary
degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by William and Mary
College, followed by the same degree from Amherst College
in 1879, from Yale University in 1885, and from his Alma
Mater, Harvard University, in 1886. Mr. Hoar was a member
of the famous Saturday Club of Boston, having as his associates
many eminent men like Agassiz, Emerson, Lowell, Longfellow,
Prescott, Dana, and Adams.

In April, 1901, the Rufus Putnam Memorial Association was
formed to purchase the homestead of General Putnam at Rut-
land, Massachusetts. Of the work done here, Senator Hoar
was the moving spirit from its inception until his death. By his
own exertions he obtained subscriptions sufficient to pay for
the property, and made a large collection of colonial furniture,
not only from this country, but from England, and personally
conducted its installation in the various rooms of the old
homestead. Thus this association, which indirectly grew
out of Mr. Hoar's memorable address at Marietta, Ohio, com-
memorating General Putnam's great achievement of opening
the Northwest, was entirely his work, and one of his favorite
recreations the last few summers of his life was to make
frequent visits to Rutland with companies of his friends.

In 1902, upon Mr. Hoar's initiative, the Worcester County
Devens Statue Commission was incorporated, naming him as
the first member of the commission, of which he remained
chairman until his death. He took the liveliest interest in
this object up to the time of his death, and in his last ill-
ness expressed regret that he could not live to see the statue
completed and placed in position in front of the Worcester
Court House.

One of Senator Hoar's marked traits of character was his
passionate love of country life, and the great enjoyment he
derived from drives and trolley rides with his friends to visit
favorite points. Among these should be mentioned Asnebum-
skit Hill, which he purchased and which he frequent^ visited.
This hill is the highest land in Worcester County, with the
exception of Mount Wachusett and Little Wachusett, and it



commands a fine view of Worcester and the surrounding
country. He purchased Asnebumskit, as he said, to own a
part of the horizon. Another favorite excursion was to Re-
demption Rock in Westminster, upon which was placed a
tablet with the inscription, " On this rock, May 2, 1676, was
made the agreement for the ransom of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
of Lancaster between John Hoar of Concord and the Indians."
He knew intimately all of even the out-of-the-way roads within
convenient driving distance of Worcester, and of every town-
ship in the county and of many dwellings had interesting per-
sonal reminiscences.

His afternoon drives were to Rutland, Auburn, Sutton, Mill-
bury, while the trolley rides of which he came to be very fond
extended farther — to Spencer, Southbridge, Oxford, Clinton,
Lancaster, and Marlboro. Occasionally longer excursions in-
volving one or two nights spent away from home were taken
with a chosen few. Concord, Lexington, Monadnock, Ash-
field, and Deerfield were among these. He had been retained
as counsel by nearly every town in the county, and as he grew
old was fond of visiting graveyards and recalling those he had
known. On his excursions he desired invariably to be host,
and only occasionally, by strategy, were his friends enabled to
bear their own share of the expenses. It seemed often a posi-
tive passion with him to do favors for, and even to give little
pleasures to, his friends. To this end he often seemed to spare
no pains, and gave great thought, and sometimes made prepa-
rations long in advance, to bestow a favor that would be most
cherished.

To those who accompanied him in these frequent excur-
sions, he was not only the most delightful companion, giving
his marvellous conversational powers full sway, but he often
seemed to enter into the enjoyment of the moment with an
abandon that was a characteristic expression of the perennial
youthfulness of his nature. Such excursions, too, were fre-
quently an opportunity for discussing practical problems and
doing committee work with others, and also of enlisting their
interest in projects he had at heart. Up to within a few days
of his final illness, he found great pleasure and recreation in
such excursions, interpersed as they often were by colloquies
with residents along the routes, all of whom he knew, and
most of the older of whom knew him.



8

He often spoke of his finances and of his limited resources,
and could not understand why men are often so secretive
about their financial matters. He always made full and com-
plete returns to the assessors, and declared that his best invest-
ments were made when he paid his taxes. He subscribed, and
often with surprising generosity for a man of his means, to
nearly every worthy cause that was presented. He made no
charges for addresses or political speeches, and was content to
have his travelling expenses paid, but often indifferent even
about that.

His delight in country life and his enjoyment of nature, his
rare fondness for birds, and, entirely unmusical as he was, his
passion for listening to their singing, were very prominent
traits of his character.

He was a great friend of children and young people, and
often carried about quarters and half-dollars fresh from the
mint to give to those he met.

His manner of life was very simple ; his love of literature
of the best the English language afforded was a marked char-
acteristic, and coupled with his love of nature made him a
most genial companion, to which those who were honored
with his friendship will bear witness. He was a great lover
of books, and it was in his library that he most enjoyed him-
self, and where he spent many quiet and restful hours. He
enjoyed showing his rare books to friends who were interested
in them. In speaking of his way of living he once said, " I
have been in my day an extravagant collector of books, and have
a library which you would like to see and which I should like
to show you." Many of the most valuable books are enriched
by the addition of autograph letters of the authors, and in
these he took especial pride. His familiarity with English lit-
erature and history made him at home in London in a way
that often surprised his American fellow travellers.

A man of great ability, and one who received the highest
honors from the State and nation, yet to the humblest of his
friends he was on such good terms of fellowship that one could
not but feel at ease in his company. With a delightful con-
versational power and a most remarkable memory that could
at once call to mind words of wisdom or of humor from the best
in English literature, his society was a pleasure and an inspira-
tion to those privileged and honored by his friendship.



9

Owing to Senator Hoar's good taste and his choice command
of good English, he was often called upon to furnish inscrip-
tions for monuments and public places. For instance, when
the new Court House in Worcester was built, he was called
upon to furnish fitting lines to be placed over an arch in the
main entrance, and he suggested the following, which was
adopted : " Here speaketh the conscience of the State re-
straining the individual."

The inscription on his father's monument in Sleepy Hollow
Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts, as furnished by Mr. Hoar,
is: —

" He was long one of the most eminent lawyers and bestbeloved citizens
of Massachusetts. A safe counsellor and kind neighbor, a Christian
gentleman. He had a dignity that commanded the respect, and a sweet-
ness and modesty that won the affection of all men. He practised an
economy that never wasted, and a liberality that never spared. Of
proved capacity for the highest offices, he never avoided obscure duties.
He never sought station or eminence, and never shrank from positions
of danger or obloquy. His days were made happy by public esteem
and private affection. To the last moment of his long life he preserved
his clear intellect unimpaired, and fully conscious of its approach met
death with the perfect assurance of immortal life."

Another, upon John Prescott, is as follows : —

"Here with his children about him lies John Prescott, founder of
Lancaster and first settler of Worcester County. Born at Standish,
Lancashire, England; died at Lancaster, Massachusetts, Dec. 1681.
Inspired by the love of liberty and the fear of God, this stout-hearted
pioneer, forsaking the pleasant vales of England, took up his abode in
the unbroken forest and encountered wild beast and savage to secure
freedom for himself and his posterity. His faith and virtues have been
inherited by many descendants who in every generation have well
served the State in war, in literature, at the bar, in the pulpit, in public
life, and in Christian homes."

It has been sometimes said that Senator Hoar's services in
Congress were not of a practical nature. As an illustration of
his ability and efficiency in bringing forward practical questions
for the consideration of Congress, we append the following list
of bills which he drafted and of which he secured the passage
in Congress, with a reference to other official services rendered
by him : —



10

Presidential Succession Bill.

National Bankruptcy Bill.

Electoral Commission Bill and Service on Commission.

Bill for Settlement of Southern Claims. Ten years' service on such

committee.
Bills for relief of Southern Colleges and for losses during Civil

War.
Chairman Judiciary Committee for fourteen years. Every bill passed

by Congress examined and approved by him during that time.
Author of so-called Sherman Trust Bill.
Author of Bureau Education Bill.
Author of Eads Jetty Bill.
Bill Limiting the Franchise in the Philippine Islands by which great

frauds were defeated.
Bill for Relief of Educational Institutions from tax of 15% on legacy.
Secured repeal Civil Tenure Bill.
Bill establishing salaries of U. S. Judiciary.

Other evidence might be added, if necessary, that he was
often of assistance to others in preparing important bills.

For many years several of the ablest American newspapers
were frequently outspoken in their criticism of his public acts.
One of the remarkable incidents in the period following his
death is the fact that journals like the Chicago Tribune, the
New York Evening Post, the Springfield Republican, and the
Boston Herald seemed to vie with each other in glorifying his
memory. Says the former, August 19 : —

" To-day, as in the past, calumny loves to besmirch the reputations of
public men. Senator Hoar is one of those she has never dared to attack.
No one has ever ventured even to insinuate a suspicion of his integrity
or sincerity. Public life has not been a mine of wealth for him. As
he said a year ago, if he had never entered it and had kept to his pro-
fession, he would have been well off, instead of having only a trifle to
leave his heirs. But when he bids farewell to earth, he will leave a
possession which the gold of all the multi-millionaires cannot buy, —
the fame of having served his country long and well, of having taken
his moral principles into politics with him to guide his course, of having
been true to his ideals, no matter what the odds were against him, and
of having stood up bravely to rebuke the party he loved when he
thought it was in the wrong."

Mr. Hoar was a religious man, very broad and liberal in his
views, and tolerant of the religious views of others. One of



11

his utterances, which may well be quoted here, was this : " I
have no faith in fatalism, in destiny, in blind force. I believe
in God, the living God, in the American people who do not
bow the neck or bend the knee to any other, and who desire
no other to bow the neck or bend the knee to them. I
believe, finally, that whatever clouds may darken the horizon,
the world is growing better, that to-day is better than yester-
day, and to-morrow will be better than to-day." He was a
regular attendant at church, and had very strong convictions
as to the duty and necessity of it. In one of his published
addresses he said: " There is, in my judgment, no more com-
manding public duty than attendance at church on Sunday.
. . . Let there be one place and one hour devoted to quiet,
from which the world is shut out, as it is shut out on a long
voyage at sea."

The two religious doctrines to which he held almost pas-
sionately were the belief in God and in a future life. Many
times on excursions with his friends, especially in his later
years, he would revert to these topics, ask their opinions, and
usually in the end express his own with very great positive-
ness. These appeared to be the fundamental articles of his
creed, and it was hard for him to see how any one could in
any degree doubt them.

Bravely as he used to say that he did not fear growing old,
he had not taken into account the loss of relatives and friends
by death and its consequent loneliness. In an address given
several years ago before a society of gentlemen at Worcester,
he said : —

" The greatest penalty of growing old is the loss of the friends of
youth. Dying to a brave man, certainly to a brave old man, is in the
death of others, not in his own. It is this which alike gives age its
terror, and is the chief reconciler and consoler as the end of life comes
on. When the voices that were its music are silent, it 's well that the
ears grow dumb. When the faces which were their delight have van-
ished, it is well that the eyes grow dim. In some rare examples of old
men, too, this is largely compensated by that which, except health of
body and mind, is the best gift of God to man, — a large capacity for
friendship, which takes in and welcomes the new generations as they



1 From a centennial address entitled " Old Age and Immortality," before the
Worcester Fire Society, January 21, 1893.









12



Senator Gorman, of Maryland, in his eulogy of Mr. Hoar,
says : —

" He was a partisan without rancor, an antagonist without bitterness,
a friend without reservation and conditions, a conqueror without ven-
geance, a loser without resentment."

Senator Lodge's resolution contains the following : —

" His life was given to the service of his country and of his fellow-
men. For forty years he was one of those who guided and watched
over the fortunes of the republic. His achievements are written in
the history of the United States. Patriot and statesman, orator and
scholar, a lawyer, a jurist, and a great senator and leader of men. . . .
His abilities were commanding, his ideals noble, his conduct of life fol-
lowed the loftiest standards. Pure of heart, stainless in honor, tender
in his affections, fearless and unswerving in the path of duty, unfalter-
ing in his loyalty to friends and to country, his life will be an example
and an inspiration to the generations yet to be. He has died at the
summit of his great career. He met death with the serene courage
which had never failed him in the trials of life, surrounded by all that
should accompany old age, — honor, love, obedience, troops of friends.
So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded on the other side."



I R M 'in



-



.


















'






•■




















.


.




.






;















.









.



i












1

Online LibraryNathaniel PaineMemoir of George Frisbie Hoar (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 1)