Ratcliffe Hicks.

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ing Legislature will do something to relieve the
pressure and give us means to do our work here.
Again, let me thank you for your help in our

Yours truly,

B. F. KooNS,
Pres, Storrs Agricultural Col.



From the Hartford ^^ Daily Times, '^ Thursday,
May 31, 1894.

Mayor Brainard received the following letter
to-day, which he will submit to the Common Council
for appropriate action : —

Midland Grand Hotel, London,
May 17, 1894.
Hon. Leverett Brainard, Mayor of Hartford, Conn. :

Dear Sir, — I read in the " New York Herald "
of May 7 of the death of Mr. Frederick S. Brown.
With the approval of yourself and the authorities
of the city of Hartford, I should be pleased to
erect a monument to his memory, to cost not less
than ^5,000, provided the same can be erected in
one of the public parks of the city, — a cause in
which he was so deeply interested. An early reply
will oblige. Please write me, care S. S. Morgan
& Co., Bankers, London.

Yours respectfully,

R. Hicks.


The Mayor referred the letter to the Park

At a meeting of the Park Commissioners on Wed-
nesday, the offer of Mr. Ratcliffe Hicks to erect a
monument on the park to the memory of the late
Frederick S. Brown was considered. Mayor Brainard
was requested to write to Mr. Hicks acknowledging
the offer, and asking for information as to the style
and plan of the proposed memorial. Before a reply
could be received, Judge Sherman W. Adams, Presi-
dent of the Park Commissioners, wrote to Mayor
Brainard in behalf of the Board, giving its conclusions
respecting the offer of the Hon. Ratcliffe Hicks to
erect at his own expense a memorial in the park to
the late Frederick S. Brown. The letter is given in
full : —

Hartford, Conn., June 4, 1894.
Hon. Leverett Brainard, Mayor :

Dear Sir, — The Board of Park Commissioners
to whom you were pleased to refer the letter of
Ratcliffe Hicks, Esq., containing his generous offer
to erect a monument in one of the parks of this
city in honor of the late Frederick S. Brown, Esq.,
has had said letter under consideration, and, as a
result thereof, this Board hereby announces its
conclusions as follows : —

First, a memorial of the kind in question, on,
public grounds, here at the capital of the State
would be a mark of great honor such as should be
dedicated to the memory of Connecticut citizens
who have rendered eminent services to the State


or nation only, whether these services were ren-
dered on land or on sea, in the interests of science,
beneficial legislation, alleviation of distress, or by
benefactions in behalf of humanity in general.

Second, on the public grounds now in charge of
this Board only two memorials have been erected,
aud each of them is in honor of a citizen whose
services were of national importance. In the mil-
itary service, such heroes as Mason, Treat, Lyman,
Wooster, Spencer, Parsons, and others, of Colonial
and Revolutionary fame, and Lyon and Sedgwick
of the late war, are still without memorials. In
the naval service, Hull, Chauncey, McDonough,
Foote, and Ward are without such public recogni-
tion. So are such statesmen and jurists as John
Winthrop, Oliver Ellsworth, Chauncey Goodrich,
William Samuel Johnson, Zephaniah Swift, and a
score of others who might be mentioned. Noah
Webster, a native of Hartford, has not been thus
honored. And there are sons of Connecticut who
have been famous as poets, writers, scientists, or
inventors who have deserved equal honors. So
there have been distinguished theologians and
physicians. It is not probable that more than a
very few of these eminent men will have costly
memorials or monuments erected to their honor
on the public grounds of this city. Indeed, it is
not desirable that there be many such works ;
otherwise those areas would have too much of the
appearance of a cemetery.


Third, the principle involved is one that should
not be encouraged by a precedent of this kind.
If it come to be understood that a person may
cause a monument to be erected in honor of some
personal friend of his, in one of our parks, on the
ground that it is to cost the city nothing, how long
will it be before others will be coming forward with
like proposals? And where may the procession
end ? If it be Mr. Hicks's idea to do honor to Mr.
Brown as a former park commissioner, then we
doubt the propriety of the erection of a public
monument to the memory of any member of this
Board, as such ; and we think that if any person
is to be honored by such a memorial because of
great service in connection with our public parks,
that person is the late Horace Bushnell.

Our friendship and esteem for Mr. Brown was
quite equal to that of people in general ; in fact,
we were admirers of his many good qualities, and
we duly appreciated his services to the public.
But this is not a question of private friendship,
and our deliberate judgment is as above set

In behalf of the Board,

Very respectfully yours,

Sherman W. Adams,

Ratcliffe Hicks writes Mayor Brainard from Carls-
bad, Germany, under date of June 21 : —



Carlsbad, June 21, 1894.
Hon. Leverett Brainard, Mayor of Hartford, Conn. :

Dear Sir, — Your polite letter of June 7 is just
at hand. I regret the action of the authorities of
your city. I had no thought of erecting the bust
or monument as a memorial of a personal friend,
but as a public testimonial to a man who had lived
for fifty years and more in your own community,
and who was without a superior in all those years
in personal integrity, in urbanity of manner, in
good common-sense, in all that rounds up and
makes a perfect man.

Yours sincerely,

Ratcliffe Hicks.



To the Congregational Ecclesiastical Society of

Tolland, Conn., August i, 1894.

Sir, — At the last Annual Meeting of the Con-
gregational Ecclesiastical Society of Tolland, it was
unanimously voted that the thanks of this Society
be extended to you for your very generous gift of
fifteen hundred dollars towards repairing and re-
modelling their church edifice, and also for your
services as a member of the Building Committee.

The clerk of the meeting was instructed to com-
municate to you the above vote, and to enter the
same upon the Records of the Society.

Edward E. Fuller,
To Mr. Ratcliffe Hicks,

Tolland, Conn.



New York, Nov. 15, 1894.
To THE Editor of the "Courant" :

I AM very glad to see that you are urging a
revision of the laws governing the issuing of
licenses and the conducting of county affairs. I
introduced a resolution looking to that object at
the last session of the Legislature, but seeing that
the time was not ripe for such action I let the
matter drop. I am firmly convinced that there
are many radical changes needed.

First, I would have the county commissioners
elected by the people, and take the miserable con-
test of their appointments out of the hands of the
Legislature and away from the influence of the

Second, I would also have the county treasurer
and county clerk and county auditor elected by the
people instead of, as now, being appointed by the
county commissioners. They are elected in all
the cities and towns of Connecticut, and why
should they not be in our counties ?


Third, I would provide for the licenses being
issued by the clerk of the counties, a distinct
ofifice from the clerk of the courts, and that the
money should be paid direct to the treasurer of
each county by the licensees.

Fourth, I would have these licenses issued upon
the approval of the selectmen of the town, and
have no other hearing, — the same as is done in
the case of the United States licenses.

Fifth, I would provide that the representatives
of each county should meet at the shire town on
some fixed day annually, instead of meeting at the
Capitol at odd times, to listen to the written re-
ports of the county commissioners, of the county
treasurer, of the county clerk, and of the county
auditor, and make such appropriations as they
may deem wise from time to time for the repair
and care of the county property and for all county

Sixth, I would provide that the county clerk
should act as clerk at all the meetings of the rep-
resentatives of the county, and keep correct records
of all the doings of the county commissioners. The
records of the doings of the county commissioners
and of the transactions of county business for the
past ten years are in most counties in a horrible
condition, and in some counties there are no
records at all.

Seventh, I would provide that the district at-
torney of each coimty should act as the legal


adviser of the county officers, and if necessary I
would increase his salary for that purpose, and
take away from the county commissioners the
power of hiring one or half-a-dozen lawyers as
they see fit, and pay them whatever they ask.

Eighth, I would take away the power of appoint-
ing prosecuting agents from the county commis-
sioners, and create the office of assistant state's
attorney. He should be appointed by the courts,
the same as state's attorney ; and he should have
charge of all liquor prosecutions before the justice
courts, and assist the state's attorney when the
cases come to trial in the superior court. His
services would be invaluable.

The county commissioners of Connecticut are
more absolute than the autocrat of all the Russias.
They contract and pay their own bills ; they are
responsible to nobody, and handle annually some-
where from half a million to a million dollars, —
nearly as much as the entire receipts of the State
of Connecticut. The governor is an infant in
power compared with the patronage and authority
vested in the absolute will of these county commis-
sioners. They always have been an injury to any
political party to which they belonged and which
they attempted to serve, whether Republican or
Democratic. It is time that this old, worn-out,
antiquated, and cumbersome system of transacting
the legitimate business of the people was modern-
ized and methodized, and made in harmony with


nineteenth-century ideas. By my vote and by my
voice, if necessary, I will do what little lies in my
power to help on this reform which you are so
ably advocating.

Ratcuffe Hicks.



Letter published in the '^ Meriden Record."

Hartford, Conn., March 6, 1S95.

The State of Connecticut took the first step in
the matter of administrative economy to-day when
Ratcliffe Hicks's resolution for the appropriations
committee to investigate the expenses of the differ-
ent departments of the State government, with a
view to retrenchment, was taken from the table
and passed unanimously. Mr. Hicks made an
able speech in favor of his measure, in which he
said that the business men throughout the country
are at present cutting down expenses, and it
would be well for the State of Connecticut to do
the same. He cited several instances wherein it
seemed to him unusually large expenditures of
money in different departments had been made.
The contingent fund of the senate, he claimed,
has heretofore been altogether too large, and
should be looked into.

Judge Cowell of Waterbury seconded Mr. Hicks's
remarks. Mr. Cowell's speech has set some of the
members from New Haven County to thinking.
Judge Cowell is one of the warmest advocates and
supporters of the Waterbury court-house measure.


Hartford, Conn., May 9, 1895.
To THE Hon, E. W. Marsh, Representative of Bridgeport :

Dear Sir, — You were kind enough to ask me
on Thursday last for my views on the Bridgeport
grade-crossing bills. At that time I had not given
the matter much attention, as I had been awaiting
the action of the railroad committee, besides being
occupied with pubUc and private business. But
since then I have been reflecting on the matter,
and have settled in my own mind what will be my
position, although I have had no opportunity to
consult with any person, and therefore express
only my own views.

First, I am earnestly in favor of a new lay-out,
which shall carry the track of the Consolidated
Railroad Company to the north of the city of
Bridgeport. This, in my opinion, is the only route
the company should ever adopt, thereby straight-
ening their track, avoiding many curves and a
drawbridge, and establishing a route which can be
called permanent, and which will accommodate
the people of Bridgeport and the travelling public
in the near future, if not to-day, far better than the
present lay-out.

21 321


Second, I cannot conceive how it is of any
benefit to the tax-payers of Bridgeport to have a
milUon people, more or less, hurled annually
through the air thirty or forty feet above the street
levels and looking down on them.

Third, I think the elevated track would be a great
blot and blur on the good looks of Bridgeport.

Fourth, I think the smoke, the noise, and the
dust from a railroad of four tracks, doubling and
trebling its business every ten or twenty years,
would become in the end a great nuisance.

Fifth, I do not think there is a single piece of
property in Bridgeport which in the opinion of a
fair commission will be benefited one dollar by
reason of the elevation of the track.

Sixth, if the arguments of the Hon. William D.
Bishop as to the failure of Bridgeport to contribute
money towards the construction of this railroad
company are to be considered or have any weight
(and his social, financial, and political standing
must necessarily give them great weight), then it
follows necessarily that if Bridgeport is to con-
tribute a large sum of money, it shall contribute it
in the same manner and in the same way only as
was the case with all the other cities and towns
in Connecticut ; to wit, by a majority vote of the
people. And I am in favor of submitting the law
to the approval of the voters of Bridgeport. No
one has any right to bind or speak conclusively for
them in this matter. The tax-payers of Bridge-


port have never elected or selected any man, be
he mayor, senator, representative in the General
Assembly, or member of the Common Council,
to act for them in such a weighty and important
matter. It would be the greatest assumption of
authority, and without a parallel in this State, for
the present city officials or representatives in the
Legislature to force upon the city of Bridgeport
an indebtedness of five hundred thousand dollars,
more or less, without leaving the matter to the
decision of the voters, and without any direct
authority to make such an arrangement.

Seventh, I think no business property in Bridge-
port will be damaged by the new lay-out. I think
Bridgeport will need, as time goes on, all its water
front for other purposes than railroads. I think
Bridgeport must necessarily grow northerly, and
that in fifty years Bull's Head will be far nearer
the centre of population than the present post-
office or station. I think the railroad is of no
benefit to adjoining property, — except, possibly,
to a few factories with a side track. I think the
railroad has no effect on the centre of business,
and has made no difference in New Haven, Hart-
ford, or Springfield. Chapel Street in New Haven
and Main Street in Hartford and in Springfield
have remained entirely unaffected by the loca-
tion of the station; and so it is in ninety-nine
cities out of a hundred throughout the United



Eighth, there has never been any man con-
nected with the ConsoUdated Railroad Company,
except the Hon. Charles P. Clark, — with possibly
one bare exception, Mr. Bishop, — who has been
able to grasp the future of this railroad and to look
twenty-five years ahead. In my opinion, he is
about the only man whose descendants in fifty
years from now can point to a single act of con-
struction or lay-out by their ancestor which will
meet with the admiration and approval of the men
then living.

I advise, then, both as a tax-payer of Bridgeport
deeply interested in its future prosperity, and as a
friend of the Consolidated Railroad Company, that
they shall establish a lay-out which will have plenty
of grounds for stations, side-tracks, express offices,
electric-car connections, carriage grounds, and
which will accommodate Bridgeport fifty years
from now, with its quarter of a million of inhabi-
tants ; and to reach that limit, the growth of
Bridgeport in the next fifty years will not be as
marvellous as it has been in the last fifty years.
Yours very respectfully,

Ratcliffe Hicks.



Hartford, Conn., May 29, 1895.
Hon. O. Vincent Coffin, Hartford, Conn. :

Dear Sir, — I think it is not in many years
that we have had a Governor more conscientious
and more faithful in attending to the duties of his
ofifice than yourself, and I especially commend
your course in the matter of the Whipple School.
But I fear you little know the true condition of
the public affairs in Connecticut relating to our
beneficiary institutions, if you think that this is
the only matter which deserves your serious and
careful attention.

I will not in this letter attempt to explain fully
all I know, but I will give you a few illustrations ;
and whatever I state I am prepared to indorse as

First, within the last two years the executive
committee of one of our great public institutions
sat down to examine the bills of that institution. A
bill was presented for ten barrels of sponges. No
one on the committee seemed to know what it
meant ; the clerk said he did n't either ; but finally
the manager of the institution came in, and the
question was referred to him. He replied that it


was for ten barrels of flour which his own family
had used ; and he said he did n't propose to eat
the flour furnished to the inmates. He said it was
the first time since his connection with the institu-
tion that his bills had ever been questioned, and
that he would at once give in his resignation. He
instructed the secretary to make it out.

Second, within the last three years a gentleman
was selected as a manager of one of our public
institutions, and at the close of his first month he
had many checks sent to him, amounting to nearly
$500, all which he returned. On inquiry he found
that they were intended as commissions on the
purchases made by the institution. The parties
said they had been regularly paying these com-
missions for many years. How true this may
be of other institutions I have not the means of

Third, in the files of the Treasurer's office at the
Capitol can be found correspondence which will
prove that a five per cent commission has been
demanded and received for loans made out of the
funds belonging to the School Fund office.

These instances will prove to you that you have
a task to perform which involves the greatest
amount of knowledge and intelligence, — which
some of your predecessors never possessed, or, if
possessing, never exercised.

Is it not, my dear Governor, about time to intro-
duce honest business methods into the manage-


ment of all the institutions and departments of the
State government, — the same business methods
which have given Connecticut manufacturers and
business men their present successful standing
before the people of this country?

I think you are equal to the occasion, and I
look for good results from your further investiga-
tion into the unfortunate condition of the public
affairs of the State of Connecticut.
Yours very truly,

Ratcliffe Hicks.



From the Hartford Equal Rights Club.

At the meeting of the Hartford Equal Rights
Club, the following resolution was read and
adopted : —

Whereas, The political rights of one-half of the
adult citizens of this nation, the women, have been
persistently ignored and their participation in pub-
lic affairs denied, even to a voice in the education
of their children, — and this wrong has been so
long continued that men have become unconscious
of its injustice and its injurious effects upon man-
kind, till only the more enlightened, just, and fair-
minded realize that it is a wrong to woman and to
society that should no longer be suffered to exist :
therefore be it

Resolved, That the Hartford Equal Rights Club
tenders its thanks to the Hon. Ratcliffe Hicks for
his earnest and admirable address in support of the
woman's school suffrage bill and in favor of the
political rights of women ; and the Club extends
its cordial thanks to every member of the General
Assembly who in good faith voted for the bill.




An Intetview in the " New York World"
Nov. 5, 1893.

Bridgeport, November 4,

Mr. Ratcliffe Hicks, Representative in the Gen-
eral Assembly from Tolland, besides being one of the
wealthiest manufacturers in Connecticut, is an in-
fluential politician. He has served several terms in
the State Legislature, and in addition to being urged
to accept the nomination for Congress from the First
District, which includes Hartford, is prominently men-
tioned as a Democratic candidate for governor in the
next election to succeed Governor Morris. He is
the President and practically the sole owner of the
Canfield Rubber Company, and as a successful busi-
ness man has interesting opinions as to the cause
of the recent financial depression. To a "World"
representative to-day he had this to say : —

Congress has voted away the people's money
without stint, for pensions, for public buildings, for
harbor improvements, for the army and navy,
never thinking that every dollar they voted repre-
sented one man's day's work. Some man had to
toil one whole day to supply every dollar which
they have wasted like water.


It is economy at Washington ; it is economy in
State, in city, and in town affairs ; it is economy in
the management of factories, railroads, stores ; it is
individual economy in living, — that will make this
country rich and prosperous. You cannot eat
your cake and have it. The Jeffersonian, the
Jacksonian, the Tilden system of administrating
public affairs is the only one that will bring
permanent and lasting prosperity to this country.

A majority of the members of Congress glory in
the fact that they are not worth a dollar, that they
do not know how to make a dollar, and that
they never expect to be worth a dollar; and yet
these men propose to show other men how to
make money ! If any man has money, they are
ready to attribute it to luck or chance rather than
to economy or industry and good judgment.

It is disgusting to read how this man and that
man, this company and that company, have spread
themselves out, borrowing money to promote or
engage in hazardous business enterprises, hoping
they can pay six per cent interest on borrowed
capital, and still have a sure profit for themselves ;
and the moment the business lulls, and the banks
call for their loans, then they turn round, and
instead of acknowledging their own want of busi-
ness sagacity they lay all the blame on John
Sherman and his little Silver Bill ; or perhaps, if
they are Democrats, they lay the blame on the
Republican maladministration; or if they are


Republicans, they lay all the blame to the " horrid
Democratic blunders." The wealthiest manufac-
turer in Connecticut was Henry H. Hubbard of
Middletown ; and he told me some years before
he died that he had not given a note in twenty-five
years, and that in a business career of fifty years
he had not paid one moment's attention to any-
thing that Congress was doing ; that he had run
his factories on business principles, and paid no
heed to political legislation, and that before doing
so he would go out of business entirely.

What the people of this country want is an
honest and economical government. Congress has
been altogether too extravagant with the people's
money, and they want a government that will keep
its hands out of class legislation, whether you call
it silver or iron or tin or wool or coal or sugar, and
let the people of this magnificent country — the
richest the sun shines on — work out their own

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Online LibraryRatcliffe HicksSpeeches and public correspondence of Ratcliffe Hicks .. → online text (page 17 of 18)