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A biographical record of Calhoun County, Iowa online

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In the presidential campaign of 1 896, Mr.
Dickinson adhered to the ** gold wing " of
the Democracy, and his influence was felt
in the national canvass, and especially in
his own state.



JOHN JACOB ASTOR, the founder of
the Astor family and fortunes, while not
a native of this country, was one of the
most noted men of his time, and as all his
wealth and fame were acquired here, he
may well be classed among America's great
men. He was bom near Heidelberg, Ger-
many, July 17, 1763, and when twenty
years old emigrated to the United States.
Even at that age he exhibited remarkable



business ability and foresight, and soon lie
was investing capital in furs which he took
to London and sold at a great profit. He
next settled at New York, and engaged ex-
tensively in the fur trade. He exported
furs to Europe in his own vessels, which re-
turned with cargoes of foreign commodities,
and thus he rapidly amassed an immense
fortune. In 181 1 he founded Astoria on
the western coast of North America, near
the mouth of the Columbia river, as a depot
for the fur trade, for the promotion of
which he sent a number of expeditions to
the Pacific ocean. He also purchased a
large amount of real estate in New York,
the value of which increased enormously
All through life his business ventures were
a series of marvelous successes, and he
ranked as one of the most sagacious and
successful business men in the world. He
c?iecl March 29, 1848, leaving a fortune es-
timated at over twenty million dollars to
his children, who have since increased it.
John Jacob Astor left $400,000 to found a
public library in New York City, and his son,
William B. Astor, who died in 1875, 1^^
$300,000 to add to his father's bequest.
This is known as the Astor Library, one of
the largest in the United States.



SCHUYLER COLFAX, an eminent
American statesman, was bom in New
York City, March 23, 1823, being a grand-
son of General William Colfax, the com-
mander of Washington's life-guards. In
1836 he removed with his mother, who was
then a widow, to Indiana, settling at South
Bend. Young Schuyler studied law, and
in 1845 became editor of the "St. Joseph
Valley Register, " a Whig paper published
at South Bend. He was a member of the
convention which formed a new constitu-
tion for Indiana in i8$o, and he opposed



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COMPENDIUM OF BIOGRAPHY.



the clause that prohibited colored men
from settling in that state. In 185 1 he was
defeated as the Whig candidate for congress
but was elected in 1854, and, being repeat-
edly re-elected, continued to represent that
district in congress until 1869. He became
one of the most prominent and influential
members of the house of representatives,
and served three terms as speaker. During
the Civil war he was an active participant
in all public measures of importance, and
was a confidential friend and adviser of
President Lincoln. In May, 1868, Mr.
Colfax was nominated for vice-president on
the ticket with General Grant, and was
elected. After the close of his term he re-
tired from office, and for the remainder of
his life devoted much of his time to lectur-
ing and literary pursuits. His death oc-
curred January 23, 1885. He was one of
the most prominent members of the Inde-
pendent Order of Odd Fellows in America,
and that order erected a bronze statue to
his memory in University Park, Indianapo-
lis, Indiana, which was unveiled in May,
1887.

WILLIAM FREEMAN VILAS, who at-
tained a national reputation as an able
lawyer, statesman, and cabinet officer, was
born at Chelsea, Vermont, July 9, 1840.
His parents removed to Wisconsin when
our subject was but eleven years of age,
and there with the early settlers endured all
the hardships and trials incident to pioneer
life. William F. Vilas was given all the
advantages found in the common schools,
and supplemented this by a course of study
in the Wisconsin State University, after
which he studied law, was admitted to the
bar and began practicing at Madison.
Shortly afterward the Civil war broke out
and Mr. Vilas enlisted and became colonel



of the Twenty-third regiment of Wisconsin
Volunteers, serving throughout the war with
distinction. At the close of the war he re-
turned to Wisconsin, resumed his law prac-
tice, and rapidly rose to eminence in this
profession. In 1885 he was selected by
President Cleveland for postmaster-general
and at the close of his term again returned
to Madison, Wisconsin, to resume the prac-
tice of law.

THOMAS McINTYRE COOLEY, an em-
inent American jurist and law writer,
was bom in Attica, New York, January 6,
1824. He was admitted to the bar in 1846,
and four years later was appointed reporter
of the supreme court of Michigan, which
ofiice he continued to hold for seven years.
In the meantime, in 1859, he became pro-
fessor of the law department of the Univer-
sity of Michigan, and soon afterward was
made dean of the faculty of that depart-
ment. In 1864 he was elected justice of
the supreme court of Michigan, in 1867 be-
came chief justice of that court, and in
1869 was re-elected for a term of eight
years. In 1881 he again joined the faculty
of the University of Michigan, assuming the
professorship of constitutional and adminis-
trative law. His works on these branches
have become standard, and he is recog-
nized as authority on this and related sub-
jects. Upon the passage of the inter-state
commerce law in 1887 he became chairman
of the commission and served in that capac-
ity four years.



JOHN PETER ALTGELD, a noted
American politician and writer on social
questions, was born in Germany, December
30, 1847. He came to America with his
parents and settled in Ohio when two years
old. In 1864 he entered the Union army



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141



and served till the close of the war, after
which he settled in Chicago, Illinois. He
was elected judge of the superior court of
Cook county, Illinois, in 1886, in which
capacity he served until elected governor of
Illinois in 1892, as a Democrat. During
the first year of his term as governor he at-
tracted national attention by his pardon of
the anarchists convicted of the Haymarket
murder in Chicago, and again in 1894 by
his denunciation of President Cleveland for
calling out federal troops to suppress the
rioting in connection with the great Pull-
man strike in Chicago. At the national
convention of the Democratic party in Chi-
cago, in July, 1896, he is said to have in-
spired the clause in the platform denuncia-
tory of interference by federal authorities in
local affairs, and ** government by injunc-
tion.** He was gubernatorial candidate for
re-election on the Democratic ticket in 1896,
but was defeated by John R. Tanner, Re-
publican. Mr. Altgeld published two vol-
umes of essays on ** Live Questions,*' evinc-
ing radical views on social matters.



ADLAI EWING STEVENSON, an Amer.
ican statesman and politician, was born
in Christian county, Kentucky, October 23,
1835, ^^^ removed with the family to
Bloomington, Illinois, in 1852. He was
admitted to the bar in 1858, and set-
tled in the practice of his profession
in Metamora, Illinois. In 1861 he was
made master in chancery of Woodford
county, and in 1864 was elected state's at-
torney. In 1868 he returned to Blooming-
ton and formed a law partnership with
James S. Ewing. He had served as a pres-
idential elector in 1864, and in 1868 was
elected to congress as a Democrat, receiv-
ing a majority vote from every county in his
district. He became prominent in his



party, and was a delegate to the national
convention in 1884. On the election ol
Cleveland to the presidency Mr. Stevenson
was appointed first assistant postmaster-
general. After the expiration of his term
he continued to exert a controlling influence
in the politics of his state, and in 1892 was
elected vice-president of the United States
on the ticket with Grover Cleveland. At
the expiration of his term of office he re-
sumed the practice of law at Bloomington,
Illinois.

SIMON CAMERON, whose name is
prominently identified with the history
of the United States as a political leader
and statesman, was born in Lancaster coun-
ty, Pennsylvania, March 8, 1799. He grew
to manhood in his native county, receiving
good educational advantages, and develop-
ing a natural inclination for political life.
He rapidly rose in prominence and became
the most influential Democrat in Pennsy>
vania, and in 1845 was elected by that party
to the United States senate. Upon the
organization of the Republican party he was
one of the first to declare his allegiance to
it, and in 1856 was re-elected United States
senator from Pennsylvania as a Republican.
In March, 1 861, he was appointed secretary
of war by President Lincoln, and served
until early in 1862, when he was sent as
minister to Russia, returning in 1863. In
1866 he was again elected United States
senator and served until 1877, when he re-
signed and was succeeded by his son, James
Donald Cameron. He continued to exert a
powerful influence in political affairs up to
the time of his death, June 26, 1889.

James Donald Cameron was the eld-
est son of Simon Cameron, and also
attained a high rank among American
statesmen. He was born at Harrisburg,



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Pennsylvania, May 14, 1833. and received an
excellent education, graduating at Princeton
College in 1852. He rapidly developed into
one of the most able and successful business
men of the country and was largely inter-
ested in and identified with the develop-
ment of the coal, iron, lumber and manu-
facturing interests of his native state. He
served as cashier and afterward president of
the Middletown bank, and in 1861 was made
vice-president, and in 1863 president of
the Northern Central railroad, holding this
position until 1874, when he resigned and
was succeeded by Thomas A. Scott. This
road was of great service to the government
during the war as a means of communica-
tion between Pennsylvania and the national
capital, via Baltimore. Mr. Cameron also
took an active part in political affairs,
always as a Republican. In May, 1876,
he was appointed secretary of war in Pres-
ident Grant's cabinet, and in 1877 suc-
ceeded his father in the United States
senate. He was re-elected in 1885, and
again in 1891, serving until 1896, and was
recognized as one of the most prominent and
influential members of that body.



ADOLPHUS W. GREELEY, a famous
American arctic explorer, was born at
Newburyport, Massachusetts, March 27,
1844. He graduated from Brown High
School at the age of sixteen, and a year
later enlisted in Company B, Nineteenth
Massachusetts Infantry, and was made first
sergeant. In 1863 he was promoted to
second lieutenant. After the war he was
assigned to the Fifth United States Cavalry,
and became first lieutenant in 1873. He
was assigned to duty in the United States
signal service shortly after the close of the
war. An expedition was fitted out by the
United States government in 1881, un-



der auspices of the weather bureau, and
Lieutenant Greeley placed in command.
They set sail from St. Johns the first week
in July, and after nine days landed in Green-
land, where they secured the services of two
natives, together with sledges, dogs, furs
and equipment. They encountered an ice
pack early in August, and on the 28th of
that month freezing weather set in. Two
of his party. Lieutenant Lockwood and Ser-
geant Brainard, added to the known maps
about forty miles of coast survey, and
reached the highest point yet attained by
man, eighty-three degrees and twenty-four
minutes north, longitude, forty-four degrees
and five minutes west. On their return to
Fort Conger, Lieutenant Greeley set out
for the south on August 9, 1883. He
reached Baird Inlet twenty days later with
his entire party. Here they were compelled
to abandon their boats, and drifted on an
ice-floe for one month. They then went
into camp at Cape Sabine, where they suf-
fered untold hardships, and eighteen of the
party succumbed to cold and hunger, and
had relief been delayed two days longer
none would have been found alive. They
were picked up by the relief expedition,
under Captain Schley, June 22, 1884. The
dead were taken to New York for burial.
Many sensational stories were published
concerning the expedition, and Lieutenant
Greeley prepared an exhaustive account
of his explorations and experiences.



LEVI P. MORTON, the millionaire poli-
tician, was born in Shoreham, Ver-
mont, M^y 16, 1824, and his early educa-
tion consisted of the rudiments which he
obtained in the common school up to the
age of fourteen, and after that time what
knowledge he gained was wrested from the
hard school of experience. He removed to



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148



Hanover, Vermont, then Concord, Vermont,
and afterwards to Boston. He had worked
in a store at Shoreham, his native village,
and on going to Hanover he established a
store and went into business for himself.
In Boston he clerked in a dry goods store,
and then opened a business of his own in
the same line in New York. After a short
career he failed, and was compelled to set-
tle with his creditors at only fifty cents on
the dollar. He began the struggle anew,
and when the war began he established a
banking house in New York, with Junius
Morgan as a partner. Through his firm
and connections the great government war
loans were floated, and it resulted in im-
mense profits to his house. When he was
again thoroughly established he invited his
former creditors to a banquet, and under
each guest's plate was found a check cover-
ing the amount of loss sustained respec-
tively, with interest to date.

President Garfield appointed Mr. Mor-
ton as minister to France, after he had de-
clined the secretaryship of the navy, and in
1888 he was nominated as candidate for
vice-president, with Harrison, and elected.
In 1894 he was elected governor of N.ew
York over David B. Hill, and served one
term.

CHARLES KENDALL ADAMS, one
of the most talented and prominent
educators this country has known, was bom
January 24, 1835, at Derby, Vermont. He
received an elementary education in the
common schools, and studied two terms in
the Derby Academy. Mr. Adams moved
with his parents to Iowa in 1856. He was
very anxious to pursue a collegiate course,
but this was impossible until he had attained
the age of twenty-one. In the autumn of
1856 he began the study of Latin and Greek



at Denmark Academy, and in September,
1857, he was admitted to the University of
Michigan. Mr. Adams was wholly depend-
ent upon himself for the means of his edu-
cation. During his third and fourth year
he became deeply interested in historical
studies, was assistant librarian of the uni-
versity, and determined to pursue a post-
graduate course. In 1864 he was appointed
instructor of history and Latin and was ad-
vanced to an assistant professorship in 1865,
and in 1867, on the resignation oi Professoi
White to accept the presidency of Cornell,
he was appointed to fill the chair of profes-
sor of history. This he accepted on con-
dition of his being allowed to spend a year
for special study in Germany, France and
Italy. Mr. Adams returned in 1868, and
assumed the duties of his professorship.
He introduced the German system for the
instruction of advanced history classes, and
his lectures were largely attended. In 1885,
on the resignation of President White at
Cornell, he was elected his successor and
held the office for seven years, and on Jan-
uary 17, 1893, he was inaugurated presi-
dent of the University of Wisconsin. Pres-
ident Adams was prominently connected
with numerous scientific and literary organ-
izations and a frequent contributor to the
historical apd educational data in the peri-
odicals and journals of the country. He
was the author of the following: ** Dem-
ocracy and Monarchy in France," ** Manual
of Historical Literature," ** A Plea for Sci-
entific Agriculture, " * ' Higher Education in
Germany."

JOSEPH B. FORAKER, a prominent po-
litical leader and ex-governor of Ohio,
was bom near Rainsboro, Highland county,
Ohio, July 5, 1846. His parents operated
a small farm, with a grist and sawmill, hav- '



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ing emigrated hither from Virginia and
Delaware on account of their distaste for
slavery.

Joseph was reared upon a farm until
1862, when he enlisted in the Eighty -ninth
Ohio Infantry. Later he was made ser-
geant, and in 1864 commissioned first lieu-
tenant. The next year he was brevetted
captain. At the age of nineteen he was
mustered out of the army after a brilliant
service, part of the time being on the staff
of General Slocum. He participated in the
battles of Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mount-
ain and Kenesaw Mountain and in Sher-
man's march to the sea.

For two years subsequent to the war
young Foraker was studying at the Ohio
Wesleyan University at Delaware, but later
went to Cornell University, at Unity, New
York, from which he graduated July i,
1869. He studied law and was admitted to
the bar. In 1879 Mr. Foraker was elected
judge of the superior court of Cincinnati
and held the office for three years. In 1883
he was defeated in the contest for the gov-
ernorship with Judge Hoadly. In 1885,
however, being again nominated for the
same office, he was elected and served two
terms. In 1889, in running for governor
again, this time against James E. Camp-
bell, he was defeated. Two years later his
career in the United States senate began.
Mr. Foraker was always a prominent figure
at all national meetings of the Republican
party, and a strong power, politically, in his
native state.



LYMAN ABBOTT, an eminent American
preacher and writer on religious sub-
jects, came of a noted New England
family. His father, Rev. Jacob Abbott, was
a prolific and popular writer, and his uncle,
Rev. John S. C. Abbott, was a noted



preacher and author. Lyman Abbott was
born December 18, 1835, '^ Roxbury,
Massachusetts. He graduated at the New
York University, in 1853, studied law, and
practiced for a time at the bar, after which
he studied theology with his uncle, Rev.
John S. C. Abbott, and in i860 was settled
in the ministry at Terre Haute, Indiana, re-
maining there until after the close of the
war. He then became connected with the
Freedmen's Commission, continuing this
until 1868, when he accepted the pastorate
of the New England Congregational church,
in New York City. A few years later he re-
signed, to devote his time principally to lit-
erary pursuits. For a number of years he
edited for the American Tract Society, its
•'Illustrated Christian Weekly," also the
New York *• Christian Union." He pro-
duced many works, which had a wide circu-
lation, among which may be mentioned the
following: ** Jesus of Nazareth, His Life and
Teachings,*' **01d Testament Shadows of
New Testament Truths," •'Morning and
Evening Exercises, Selected from Writings
of Henry Ward Beecher," ''Laicus, or the
Experiences of a Layman in a Country
Parish," ** Popular Religious Dictionary,"
and * ' Commentaries on Matthew, Mark,
Luke, John and Acts."



GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.— The
well-known author, orator and journal-
ist whose name heads this sketch, was bom
at Providence, Rhode Island, February 24,
1824. Having laid the foundation of a
most excellent education in his native land,
he went to Europe and studied at the Uni-
versity of Berlin. He made an extensive
tour throughout the Levant, from which he
returned home in 1850. At that early age
literature became his field of labor, and in
185 1 he published his first important work,



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145



" Nile Notes of a Howadji.*' In 1852 two
works issued from his facile pen, **The
Howadji in Syria," and ** Lotus-Eating. "
Later on he was the author of the well-
known ** Potiphar Papers," ** Prue and I,"
and ** Trumps." He greatly distinguished
himself throughout this land as a lecturer
on many subjects, and as an orator had but
few peers. He was also well known as one
of the most fluent speakers on the stump,
making many political speeches in favor of
the Republican party. In recognition of
his valuable services, Mr. Curtis was ap-
pointed by President Grant, chairman of
the advisory board of the civil service. Al-
though a life-long Republican, Mr. Curtis
refused to support Blaine for the presidency
in 1884, because of his ideas on civil ser-
vice and other reforms. For his memorable
and magnificent eulogy on Wendell Phillips,
delivered in Boston, in 1884, that city pre-
sented Mr. Curtis with a gold medal.

George W. Curtis, however, is best
known to the reading public of the United
States by his connection with the Harper
Brothers, having been editor of the * * Har-
per's Weekly," and of the ** Easy Chair,"
in ** Harper's Monthly Magazine, "for many
years, in fact retaining that position until
the day of his death, which occurred August
31, 1892.

ANDREW JOHNSON, the seventeenth
presideht of the United States, served
from 1865 to 1869. He was born Decem-
ber 8, 1808, at Raleigh, North Carolina,
and was left an orphan at the age of four
years. He never attended school, and was
apprenticed to a tailor. While serving his
apprenticeship he suddenly acquired a pas-
sion for knowledge, and learned to read.
From that time on he spent all his spare
time in reading, and after working for two



years as a journeyman tailor at Lauren's
Court House, South Carolina, he removed
to Greenville, Tennessee, where he worked
at his trade and was married. Under his
wife's instruction he made rapid progress in
his studies and manifested such an interest
in local politics as to be elected as * * work-
ingmen's candidate " alderman in 1828, and
in 1830 to the mayoralty, and was twice
re-elected to each office. Mr. Johnson
utilized this time in cultivating his talents
as a public speaker, by taking part in a de-
bating society. He was elected in 1835 to
the lower house of the legislature, was re-
elected in 1839 SIS a Democrat, and in
1 841 was elected state senator. Mr. John-
son was elected representative in congress
in 1843 and was re-elected four times in
succession until 1853, when he was the suc-
cessful candidate for the gubernatorial chair
of Tennessee. He was re-elected in 1855
and in 1857 he entered the United States
senate. In i860 he was supported by the
Tennessee delegation to the Democratic
convention for the presidential nomination,
and lent his 'influence to the Breckinridge
wing of the party. At the election of Lin-
coln, which brought about the first attempt
at secession in December, i860, Mr. John-
son took a firm- attitude in the senate for
the Union. He was the leader of the loy-
alists in East Tennessee. By the course
that Mr. Johnson pursued in this crisis he
was brought prominently before the north-
ern people, and when, in March, 1862, he
was appointed military governor of Ten-
nessee with the rank of brigadier-general,
he increased his popularity by the vigorous
manner in which he labored to restore
order. In the campaign of 1864 he was
elected vice-president on the ticket with
President Lincoln, and upon the assassi-
nation of the latter he succeeded to the



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presidency, April 15, 1865. He retained
the cabinet of President Lincoln, and at
first exhibited considerable severity towards
the former Confederates, but he soon inau-
gurated a policy of reconstruction, pro-
claimed a general amnesty to the late Con-
federates, and established provisional gov-
ernments in the southern states. These
states claimed representation in congress in
the following December, and then arose the
momentous question as to what should be
the policy of the victorious Union against
their late enemies. The Republican ma-
jority in congress had an apprehension that
the President would undo the results of the
war, and consequently passed two bills over
the executive veto, and the two highest
branches of the government were in open
antagonism. The cabinet was reconstructed
in July, and Messrs. Randall, Stanbury and
Browning superseded Messrs. Denison,
Speed and Harlan. In August, 1867, Pres-
ident Johnson removed the secretary of war
and replaced him with General Grant, but
when congress met in December it refused



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