Walter Hill Crockett.

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self. * * *

"A great and healthful and beneficent power has de-
parted from our country's life. If he had not lived,
the history of the country would have been different in
some very important particulars; and it is not unlikely
that his death changed the result in some matters of
great pith and moment, which are to affect profoundly
the history of the country in the future. =i= * *

"For nearly half a century, Vermont spoke through
him in our National Council, until, one after another,
almost every great question aft'ecting the public welfare
had been decided in accordance with her opinion.

"It would be impossible, even by a most careful study
of the history of the country for the last forty years,
to determine with exactness what was due to Mr. Mor-


rill's personal influence. Many of the great policies to
which we owe the successful result of the Civil War —
the abolition of slavery, the restoration of peace, the
new and enlarged definition of citizenship, the restora-
tion of order, the establishment of public credit, the
homestead system, the foundation and admission of new
States, the exaction of apology and reparation from
Great Britain, the establishment of the doctrine of ex-
patriation, the achievement of our manufacturing inde-
pendence, the taking by the United States of its place
as the foremost nation in the world in manufacture and
in w^ealth, as it was already foremost in agriculture, the
creation of our vast domestic commerce, the extension
of our railroad system from one ocean to the other —
were carried into efifect by narrow majorities, and would
have failed but for the wisest counsel. When all these
matters were before Congress there may have been men
more brilliant or more powerful in debate. But I cannot
think of any wiser in counsel than Mr. Morrill. Many
of them must have been lost but for his powerful sup-
port. Many owed to him the shape they finally took.
* * *

"To him is due the first anti-polygamy bill, which in-
augurated the ])olicy under which, as we hope and be-
lieve, that great blot on our national life has been for-
ever expunged. The public buildings which ornament
Washington, the extension of the Capitol grounds, the
great building where the State, War and Navy Depart-
ments have their home, the National Museum buildings,
are the result of statutes of which he was the author and
which he conducted from their introduction to their


enactment, lie was the leader, as Mr. Winthrop in his
nuhle oration bears witness, of the action ol' Congress
which resulted in the completion oi the Washington
Monument after so many years' delay, lie conceived
and accomplished the idea of consecrating the beautiful
chamber of the old House of Representatives a Memorial
Hall where should stand forever the statues of the great
men of the States. So far, of late, as the prosperity and
wise administration of the Smithsonian Institution has
depended upon the action of Congress it has been due to
him. Above all, the beautiful National Library build-
ing, unequalled among buildings of its class in the world,
was in a large measure the result of his persistent effort
and powerful influence, and stands as an enduring
monument to his fame. * * *

"H you wish to sum up the quality of Justin Morrill
in a single word, mind, body, and soul, that word would
be Health. He was thoroughly healthy, through and
through, to the center of his brain, to his heart's core.
Like all healthy souls, he was full of good cheer and
sunshine, full of hope for the future, full of pleasant
memories of the past. * * *

"Mr. Morrill was not a great political leader. Great
political leaders are not often found in the Senate now-
adays. He was contented to be responsible for one
man; to cast his share of the vote of one State; to do his
duty as he conceived it and let other men do theirs as
they saw it. But at least he was not a great political
follower. He never committed himself to the popular
currents, nor studied the vanes to see how the winds
were blowing, nor sounded the depths and the shallows


before he decided on his own course. There was no
wire running to his seat from any center of patronage
or power. To use a felicitious phrase, I think of Sena-
tor Morgan of Alabama, he did not 'come out of his
door and cry cuckoo when any clock struck elsewhere.'

"Mr. Morrill was a brave man — an independent man.
He never flinched from uttering his thought. He was
never afraid to vote alone. He never grew impassioned
or angry. He had, in a high degree, what Jeremy Tay-
lor calls 'the endearment of prudent and temperate

"He was one of the men that Washington would have
loved and Washington would have leaned upon. Of
course I do not compare my good friend with him to
whom no man living or that ever lived on earth can be
compared. And Mr. Morrill was never tried or tested
by executive or by military responsibilities. But the
qualities which belonged to Washington belonged to him
— prudence, modesty, sound judgment, simplicity, abso-
lute integrity, disinterestedness, lofty patriotism. If
he is not to be compared with Washington, he was at
least worthy to be the countryman of Washington, and
to hold a high place among the statesmen of the Republic
which Washington founded.

"Neither ambition nor hatred, nor the love of ease
nor the greed of gain, nor the desire of popularity nor
the love of praise, nor the fear of unpopularity found a
place in that simple and brave heart. * * *

"And so we leave him. His life went out with the
century of which he saw almost the beginning. What
the future mav have in store for us we cannot tell. But

BKGiNXixc; oi'" A saw CiCXTim :n!)

we offer this man as an example of an American Senator
and American citizen than which, so far, we have none
better. His honored grave is hard by the spot where his
cradle was rocked, lie sleeps where he wished to sleep,
in the bosom of his beloved Vermont. Xo State ever
mourned a nobler son; no son was ever mourned by a
nobler State."

These tributes arc sufficient to show the esteem in
which Senator Morrill was held by the eminent states-
men of the Nation. He was one of the greatest men
Vermont has sent to the national capital, and one of the
noblest and most useful statesmen whom any State, at
any time, has elected to Congress. Lacking college
training, and with little opportunity for study in the
schools, he appreciated the value of sound learning so
keenly that early in his public career he secured the
passage of the Land Grant College Act, which consti-
tutes one of the great landmarks in the history of Ameri-
can education. Passing from a country store to a seat
in Congress, in a few years he had attained a position
of such prominence in financial affairs, that upon him
was laid the responsible task of formulating a tariff bill
that should provide revenue sufficient to finance the
Nation during the Civil War. Spending the early years
of his manhood in a little village remote from the rail-
road, with only the most meagre opportunities for
acquiring a knowledge of the fine arts, he was able to
render greater service, probably, than any other man in
beautifying the national capital and in erecting one of
the most beautiful buildings in the world, the Congres-
sional Librarv. His career is an inspiration to every


Veniiont youth vviio lacks friends and rorlunc. Tlic
people (;1 his Stale were ])r<ni(l (»!' liis j^real acliievements,
but hetter tiian that they loved him.

The friends of fcjur jH'oniinent Vernionters presented
to Governor Smith the merits of their respective candi-
dates for llie vSenatorship left vacant hy the death of
Senator Morrill. The candidates were William T. iJil-
linj^ham of Waterbury, William VV. (^rout of liarton,
llenry C. Ide of St. J(jhnsbury and Charles A. I'routy
of Newport. The Governor decided not to apj^oint any
of the leading candidates, leaving a fair field for the
election in I'XJO. I ie had been urged by the national ad
ministration to appoint a Senator who should be in his
seat as soon as possible, owing to the approaching vote
on the ratification of the Treaty of J'aris, and the uncer
laiiity of the outcome. Therefore, on January 7, 1899,
(lovernor vSim'th tendered the a|)])ointnient to l>enjamin
J'\ iMJield of Montpelier. Mr. iMlield at this time was
si.\ty-sevcn years old. 1 Ic was born in ( )range, Novem-
ber 18, 1832, was graduated from the University of
Vermont in the class of 1855, studied law in the office
of Teck and Colby at Mont])elier, and was admitted to
llic b;tr in 1858. I Ic ])ec;iiiie a member ot ihe lu'iii with
which he studied, and when Mr. Colby retired, continued
in ])artnershi]) with Mr. I 'eck until 18^i(). Me was
United Similes District Attorney for V^'iin(»nt from 1869
to 1880, when he resigne(l on account of his election to
the Vermont Legislature. Me served in 1880 as chair-
man of the Judiciary Committee. Me declined to be a
candidate for Congress in 1884, but was a deK'gale to
the Isepiiblicnn \\'ilion;il C<»nvenlion of that \'e;ii-. In

imOTXXTXG 01^^ A XKW CKXTL'in' :JL>1

1884 he was elected president oi the Vermont Bar Asso-
ciation. Mr. Fifield was one of Vermont's ablest
lawyers and one of the best railroad lawyers in the East,
lie was active and successful as counsel for the Central
X'ermont Railroad during the long- and coni])licated liti-
gation which attended the various receiverships through
which that corporation passed. Mr. Fifield was emi-
nently qualified for the position of Senator, but, after
careful consideration, he declined, owing to the pre-
carious condition of Mrs. Fifield's health. He was one
of a very few men who have declined a United States
Senatorship. For a considerable period before his death
he was not engaged in active practice. He died July
23, 1911.

Governor Smith then ofifered the appointment to Chief
Judge Jonathan Ross of the Vermont Supreme Court.
The ofifer was accepted, Judge Ross resigned from the
bench and took the oath of office on January 16, 1899.
Jonathan Ross was born on a farm in Waterford, Yt..
April 30, 1826. He was educated in the common
schools, attended St. Johnsbury Academy, entered Dart-
mouth College, and was graduated in 1851 in the class
w^ith Redfield Proctor. He paid his way through col-
lege in part with money earned by teaching. After
graduation he taught in the academies at Craftsbury,
Chelsea and St. Johnsbury. While teaching at Chelsea
he studied law in the office of William Hebard. He was
admitted to the bar in 1855 and located at St. Johnsbury.
Among his partners were A. J. Willard. G. A. P.urbank
and Walter P. Smith. He gradually gained eminence
in his profession. He was treasurer of the Pa'^sumpsic


Savings Bank from 1858 to 1868. He was State's
Attorney of Caledonia county, 1862-63; represented St.
Johnsbury in the Legislature in 1865, 1866 and 1867.
For several years he was a member of the State Board
of Education. He was elected to the State Senate in
1870, and while a member of that body was chosen a
Judge of the Supreme Court. He was reelected without
a break until his resignation to accept the Senatorship
and beginning with 1890 had been Chief Judge of the
court. He was at this time nearly seventy years old and
was highly esteemed as a lawyer and Judge. He served
in the Senate until the election of William P. Dillingham,
October 18, 1900. He was Chairman of the Board of
Railroad Commissioners from 1900 to 1902. During
the last years of his life he practiced law. Judge and
Mrs. Ross were struck by a railroad train at a crossing
in Concord, Vt., February 21, 1905, and fatally injured,
the former dying on February 23.

Senator Ross voted for the ratification of the Treaty
of Paris, and there was only one vote to spare. After
an exhaustive study of all treaties by which the United
States had acquired territory, of all Supreme Court de-
cisions bearing on the subject, and of the Constitution
itself, he came to the conclusion that the Constitution
did not of its own vigor, unaided by act of Congress,
extend over the territories, and on January 18, 1900, he
introduced resolutions to that effect. On May 15 he de-
livered a carefully prepared speech on these resolutions.
At first his remarks, delivered without any attempt at
oratorical effect, did not attract attention, but soon the
soundness of his argument was observed, and vSenator


Pettus of Alabama rose to say: "This is an important
question and it is a great lawyer who is speaking; we
should give him our attention."

The Washington correspondent of the Nczv York
Tribune characterized this utterance as a powerful
speech, that "completely cut the ground from under the
latest disciples of Calhoun and advocates of his theory
in Congress." The New York Sun called it a "remark-
able speech." The Nezv York Press said: "We have
seen no better expression by a public official on the
Spooner Philippine bill than that uttered by Senator
Ross of Vermont." The Springfield Republican said:
"It is a fact not generally known that before the policy
of the McKinley administration had been decided upon,
the President was advised to consult Senator Ross, and
did so, and as the result of the explanation of constitu-
tional scope and limitations given by the Senator, the
latter's opinion was accepted, namely, that the Constitu-
tion does not of its own force follow the flag, and the
policy of the administration was fixed accordingly."

The Boston Transcript declared that Senator Ross'
"very able exposition of the rights of the United States
Government under the Constitution to hold colonies was
regarded at the time as the best presentation of the
McKinley administration's position that had been made."
Several years later The Green Bag, in a sketch of Judge
Ross, said of his Senate speech : "This effort made
a sensation throughout the country and marked Judge
Ross as a man of national fame, and beyond question it
shaped the policy of the Nation wath reference to our
island possessions. President McKinley characterized


it as the most enlightening treatment of the subject
he had yet seen, and stated that it led him to a complete
change of mind as to national policy in regard to the
annexation of territory." Thus did another Vermont
statesman contribute powerfully to the solution of a
great national problem.

The Military Order of Foreign Wars in Vermont was
instituted on March 30, 1899, with Frank L. Greene of
St. Albans as commander.

Capt. Charles E. Clark, who brought the Oregon
safely around Cape Horn, at the beginning of the War
with Spain, accompanied by Mrs. Clark, arrived at
Montpelier on Sunday morning, April 30. Mayor John
H. Senter and a delegation of citizens called on Captain
Clark to extend the welcome of the city. Monday, May
1, was the first anniversary of the battle of Manila, and
the hero of the Oregon went to Northfield, where he
broke ground at Norwich University for Dewey Hall.
President A. D. Brown of Norwich was a classmate
of Captain Clark. The principal address was delivered
by Col. Kittredge Haskins of Brattleboro. Captain
Clark spoke briefly, paying a high tribute to Admiral
Dewey, and referred pleasantly to his early training at
Norwich. He also alluded to his own "great good for-
tune to be born in the Green Mountain State." An in-
formal reception followed. The village was decorated
and business was practically suspended.

Montpelier also observed Monday in honor of Cap-
tain Clark. The city was gaily decorated. The guest
of honor returned at 6.30 o'clock. A reception was
given in the evening with speeches by Mayor Senter,

nEGixxjxc; oi-^ a new cExruin' '^i:y

Mayor Gordon of Barre, Speaker Raskins, Secretary of
State Rowland and President Brown. Captain Clark
responded briefly. On Tuesday Captain Clark visited
Bradford, his birthplace. Re was f^reeted along- the
route and at Ryegate the school children assembled to
welcome him. At Wells River he was met by a delega-
tion headed by Col. R. E. Parker. On his arrival at
Bradford an address of welcome was delivered by Ex-
Gov. Roswell Farnham, who was principal of Bradford
Academy when the naval hero was a student. On the
following- day, May 3, the Captain called upon friends
and visited the village school. A reception was held at
Armory Rail in the evening. Re left Bradford on
Thursday morning. May 4, for Boston.

One of the greatest celebrations ever held in Vermont
was Admiral Dewey's welcome to his native State in
October, 1899. The mountains were aflame with the
russet and crimson and gold of the autumn foliage, when
the man whom the X^ation delighted to honor came back
to his native hills. Gov. Edward C. Smith and Col.
W. Seward Webb went to Washington in the latter's
private car to escort the Admiral to Vermont. There
were great ovations throughout New York State. The
first stop in Vermont was made at North Bennington.
The Admiral declined to make speeches and his right
hand and arm were so swollen as a result of receptions
at New^ York and Washington that he was unable to
shake the hands of Vermonters. A great crowd had
assembled at Rutland. Gen. W. Y. W. Ripley, Mayor
of the city, introduced the Admiral, who bowed his
thanks for the enthusiastic o-reetinp-. Fullv fifteen hun-


dred people had assembled at Middlebury, and a thou-
sand at Vergennes.

. The special train arrived at Shelburne at 3 :40 o'clock
on the afternoon of October 10. The schools were dis-
missed and people had gathered from far and near, some
coming a distance of twenty miles to see the hero of
Manila. It was estimated that three thousand persons
were awaiting the arrival of the Admiral. The guests
at Shelburne House, the home of Doctor and Mrs.
Webb, included Admiral Dewey, Governor Smith,
George Goodwin Dewey, the Admiral's son, Flag Lieu-
tenant Brumby, President S. R. Callaway of the New-
York Central Railroad, President P. W. Clement of the
Rutland Railroad, Hart Lyman of the Nczv York
Tribune staff, Ex-Gov. John W. Stewart of Middlebury
and Gen. J. G. McCullough of Bennington. A special
train took the Admiral to Montpelier on the afternoon
of October IL A stop was made at Burlington, where
a great throng had assembled, including the pupils of
the schools. A bouquet was presented by the children
of the Ira Allen School. Gen. O. O. Howard introduced
Mayor Robert Roberts. The Admiral bowed his
acknowledgments of the greetings of the people of the

All along the route crowds had assembled, hoping to
catch a glimpse of the popular hero. A great throng
had gathered at Montpelier, and the city was beautifully
decorated for the gala occasion. The Admiral visited
the homes of his brothers, Charles and Edward.
October 12, 1899, is known as Dewey Day in Vermont
history, and it has been called the greatest day in the


history of Montpelier. It is said that forty thousand
people gathered that day in the capital of the State to
do honor to Montpelier's most distinguished son. At
sunrise an Admiral's salute of seventeen guns was fired.
One of the incidents of the morning was the conferring
of the degree of Doctor of Laws upon the Admiral by
President Matthew II. Buckham of the University of

There was a grand parade of the civic and military
organizations in the afternoon assembled from all parts
of the State, nearly two thousand men being in line. In
the carriage with Admiral Dewey were Governor Smith,
Mayor Senter and Lieutenant Brumby. The Admiral
wore the uniform of his rank and was kept busy
acknowledging the ovation given all along the route.
The cadets of Niorwich acted as a guard of honor. On
reaching the reviewing stand the party found Senators
Proctor and Ross, Congressmen Powers and Grout, the
Judges of the courts. State officials, the Governor's staff,
the State reception committee and other prominent citi-
zens awaiting them.

On behalf of the people of Vermont, Governor Smith
presented to the Admiral a medal, saying: "The people
of Vermont with sincere affection and a deep pride
today welcome you home. They have bidden me hand
to you this little souvenir in commemoration of this
occasion on which they thus pay to you their highest
respect." In a voice trembling with emotion. Admiral
Dewey replied: "Governor Smith — I want to thank
you in behalf of the people of W^rmont, and T also wish
here to express my thanks to them individually for this


beautiful and valuable gift. There is no function to
which I have looked forward with more pleasure during
the long months of my absence than the one which was
to bring me back to my old home and my own people.
With pleasure I accept this token and shall always
cherish it as one of my most precious possessions, be-
cause it came from the people of Vermont."

The medal of honor was made of virgin gold and
enamel, the decorations being interspersed with eighteen
diamonds. Above the bar the words "Welcome Home"
were surmounted by a representation of the American
Eagle. Suspended by a blue silk ribbon was an anchor
on the bar of which was engraved the name Olympia.
The Admiral's and the national flags in blue enamel
were crossed over the medallion likeness of Dewey in
gold, and underneath, in enamel, was the State Coat of

Following the presentation of the medal the St. Albans
Glee Club sang a song composed for the occasion, and
the newspaper men were introduced to the Admiral. In
the evening there was a great bonfire on the Langdon
Meadow, followed by an elaborate display of fireworks.
There were special designs and set pieces, the last being
a representation of the battle of Manila.

On the following day, October 13, the Admiral went
to Northfield, where he laid the cornerstone of Dewey
Hall, at Norwich University. State officials and the
soldiers of the Vermont militia were present. Prayer
was offered by Bishop y^rthur C. A. Hall of the Epis-
copal diocese, and an oration was delivered by Chauncey
M. Depew of New York. Rear Admiral Belknap and


other distinguished visitors were in attendance. The
Admiral proceeded from Northlield to Boston, being-
greeted all along the route by enthusiastic crowds.

The centennial of the founding of Aliddlebury Col-
lege was observed during the commencement period of
1900, beginning on Sunday, July 2, with a baccalaureate
sermon by President Ezra Brainerd on "Our Indebted-
ness to the Past." Prayer was offered by Rev. Cyrus
Hamlin, a former president and famous as founder of
Robert College, in Turkey. Monday w^as observed as
Undergraduate Day. Tuesday was Commencement
Day. The Starr Library was dedicated, Prof. Brainerd
Kellogg of Brooklyn delivering the address. The cen-
tennial exercises proper began on Wednesday, July 4.
Among those taking part were Presidents J. E. Rankin
of Harvard University, R. C. Flagg of Ripon College,
C. S. Murkland of New Hampshire State College,
Franklin Carter of Williams College, Matthew H. Buck-
ham of the University of Vermont and W. J. Tucker of
Dartmouth College. In the evening a Roman drama
was presented. On Thursday, July 5, Prof. Walter E.
Howard delivered a centennial oration, Prof. Edwin H.
Higley read a centennial poem and a centennial hymn
was sung, the words of which were written by President
Rankin, and the music by Prof. Theodore Henckels.

The State Convention to elect delegates-at-large to
the Republican National Convention was held at Bur-
lington, April 18, 1900, and Gen. J. G. McCullough of
North Bennington, Lieut. Gov. H. C. Bates of St. Johns-
bury, Edward Wells of Burlington and Lavant M. Read
of Bellows Falls were elected. The delegates were not


instructed, but the McKinley administration was en-
dorsed, and a desire for the President's renomination
was expressed. The platform referred to territorial
expansion as follows: "We believe that this country
should manfully accept and shoulder the increased duties
and responsibilities that have come to it during the pres-
ent administration. * * * We unhesitatingly pro-
claim our conviction that from over no inch of this newly
acquired territory where the Stars and Stripes have
floated carrying promise of enlightenment and freedom,
should that flag be lowered or that promise be with-

Delegates elected in the First district were W. N.

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 4) → online text (page 22 of 43)