William D Murphy.

Biographical sketches of the state officers and members of the Legislature of the state of New York, in 1858 online

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during a period of six years. He was appointed one
of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, in 1844,
and occupied a place on the bench till the court was
abolished by the Constitution, in 1846. On his leaving
this position, he was admitted to practice in the County
Court, and in 1851 was admitted to the bar of the Su-
preme Court. Since then he has been a practicing
lawyer. In 1855 he was brought forward by the Re-
publicans, of what was then the Twenty-seventh dis-
8



86 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

trict, as a candicate for the Senate, and was elected.
He was re-nominated in the fall of 1857, in what is
now the Twenty-eighth district, and was again suc-
cessful by a handsome plurality.

Senator Patterson was formerly a Free Soil Demo-
crat, and supported Mr. Van Buren for the Presidency
in 1848. He always voted a straight ticket, till 1854,
when he split in favor of Myron H. Olark, as the
Temperance candidate for Governor. Upon the re-
peal of the Missouri Compromise, in the same year,
he enlisted in the Republican movement, and has been
a zealous member of that party ever since. He is an
upright and respectable man, and a sound, honest le-
gislator. In person he is tall, slender and well pro-
portioned; has snow white hair; blue eyes, and a
dignified, intelligent countenance. He never married
the second time, and chiefly attends the Presbyterian
church.



GEORGE W. PRATT.

Senator Pratt is the youngest member of the Senate.
He was born, in 1830, in Prattsville, Greene county,
N. Y. ; a pleasant village reared among the Catskill
mountains, by his energetic and respected father,
the Hon. Zadock Pratt, late member of Congress,
He is descended from that noble band of pilgrims who
first broke ground on the shores of New England, one
of whom, Lieut. William Pratt, of Norfolk in England,
settled at Hartford, Conn., in 1636.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 87

The subject of this sketch received a thorough and
careful education, physically assisted by extended
journeys on the western frontiers of the country, until
1848, when he went to Europe and completed his edu-
cation in a German university, receiving a degree of
Doctor in Philosophy. Subsequently he traveled ex-
tensively in Egypt, the Holy Land, Turkey, and Russia,
and finally returned to the United States in 1851. In
1855 he was married to Miss Anna, daughter of
Benjamin Tibbits, of Albany, and now resides at Kings-
ton, Ulster county, in which county he is largely
engaged in the manufacture of leather. He is also
engaged in the same business in the city of New
York.

Senator Pratt has devoted no inconsiderable atten-
tion to the study of literatiiire, and the common school
system of New York, and is now a member of various
distinguished literary societies in this and foreign
countries. He has a library of nearly eight thousand
volumes, including some of the most ancient and valu-
able works and manuscripts to be found in the world.
His collection in Oriental languages or relating to
Oriental subjects is especially interesting and attract-
ive. This department contains about three thousand
volumes, and among other rare and singular speci-
mens of ancient literature, contains the curious Geo-
graphical work entitled Jehan Numah, by Haji Khalfa,
printed at Constantinople, in 1732. The Kuran,
printed in folio at St. Petersburgh, in 1787, under the
patronage and at the expense of the Empress Catha-
rine is also in the collection. This copy which bears



88 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

no date once belonged to the celebrated French Ori-
entalist, Langles, to whom the world is indebted for
the preservation of the Oriental manuscripts in the
royal library at Paris. There is also in this Depart-
ment the Turkish translation of the famous Arabic
Dictionary — El Ramus, or the Ocean — by Firouzabodi,
in three folio volumes; a number of Arabic and Per-
sian Lexicons, some of which were published as early
as 1653; Ludolphi's Journey to the Holy Land, a
beautiful specimen of early printing in Gothic charac-
(ters; Lord Valentia's Travels; many of the works of
Norden, Niebuhr, Le Brun, Sandys, Sir John Mande-
ville, and Van Linschoten; also Forbes's Oriental
Memoirs ; Prisse's Oriental Album ; and the portraits
of the Ottoman Sultans, by John Young. Among the
Persian works there is likewise an edition of the
"Arabian Nights," in the original language, printed at
Calcutta, in four volumes, besides many works in the
Tartar languages.

The library contains a large number of ancient and
modern Bibles; numerous interesting ancient classical
works; some of the best editions of the Italian poets;
many Spanish works, some of which were published
in 1514; a fair collection of Polyglots, among which
are the Biblia Sacra Polyglotta of Cardinal Ximenes
and that of Walton. It, also, contains the opera-
tions at the Pyramids of Gizeh, by Col. Vyse, an
English gentleman, who spent vast sums upon the
explorations of the pyramids of Lower Egypt, the
results of which are here detailed, and a superb copy
in ten folio volumes of text and twelve elephant folio



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 80

volumes of plates of the Description de PEgypte,
handsomely bound and probably one of the most desir-
able copies of the work in any private collection in
this country.

Senator Pratt received an appointment as Quarter-
Master General, under the administration of Gov. Sey-
mour in 1853, and now holds the office of Colonel in the
20th regiment, familiarly known as the Ulster Guard.
Like his father he is a Democrat, and has never fal-
tered in his devotion to the principles of that party.
He has never aimed to be a politician, and his election
to the Senate may be said to be his first entrance into
the political field. He was nominated by the Demo-
crats of the Tenth district with great unanimity for
this position, and was triumphant by a majority of
fifteen hundred, over the American and Republican
candidate, ^notwithstanding the district gave about
four thousand against the Democrats in the great
contest of 1856.

In person Senator Pratt is above the medium height,
being tall and slender; has a fine coat of light brown
hair, blue eyes, stylish side whiskers, and a fine heavy
moustache. He seldom addresses the Senate at any
considerable length, but is active and faithful in the
discharge of his duties as a legislator.



90 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.



RICHARD SC HELL.

Senator Schell is a native of Dutchess county,
N. Y., and is forty-seven years of age. He is of
German descent, and his ancestors were among the
earliest German settlers who came into Dutchess
and Columbia counties. He is the eldest of four bro-
thers, of whom Augustus Schell, the present Collector
of the port of New York, is the second. He received
a liberal education, and when comparatively young,
removed to the city of New York, where he em-
barked in the business of a broker, in which he is
still engaged, on Wall street. He has, probably, been
the most fearless and venturesome financial man in
the country, and has alternately made and lost more
money than any other man engaged in a similar busi-
ness, in the city of New York. Although firm, de-
cided, and uncompromising in his political views, he
has never been a professional politician, preferring to
devote the largest share of his time and attention to
his own private affairs, and has contented himself
with being a silent-working and liberal member of
his party. He was brought forward by the Demo-,
crats of his district with entire unanimity for the
Senate in the fall of 1857, and was elected to the seat
he now occupies in that body, by a majority over the
combined forces of the American and Republican
parties. The district from which he has been elected
includes all that part of the city in which Fifth ave-



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 91

nue is situated, and he represents more wealth than
any other member of either branch of the legislature.

In the Senate Mr. Schell discharges his duties
with credit to himself, and the most perfect fidelity
to his constituents. He never indulges in speech-
making, believing that the legislation of the state can
be properly disposed of with a great deal less talking,
but pursues a quiet, straight-forward, industrious and
consistent course, which commands the unqualified
approbation of his legislative associates and the peo-
ple. He is a man of sound judgment, with a strong,
discriminating mind, and never, regardless of conse-
quences to himself or friends, gives the least counte-
nance to any thing, in the shape of legislation, whieh
does not harmonize or tend to the promotion of the
best interests of the people. He has always been a
Democrat and a devoted partisan, and is eminently
national in all his political views and feelings, never
refusing, as all men should do, to sacrifice, if need
be, every local interest upon the altar of the Consti-
tution and the Union.

In person he is about the medium iieight; is well
formed, and somewhat inclined to corpulency, with
black hair and eyes, and a full, dignified face. He
possesses fine, social qualities, and in both public
and private life enjoys a high degree of personal
popularity.



92 BIOGBAPHICAL SKETCHES.



GEORGE G. SCOTT.

Senator Scott was born in Ballston, Saratoga co.,
N. Y., in 1811, and has always been a resident of
that place. He is the only child of James Scott, who
was also, a native of Ballston, having been born only
a short time after his father emigrated to that place,
in 1773, from the north of Ireland. His father, who
died about a year ago, was eighty-three years of age,
and at the time of his death was one of the oldest
residents in that section of the state. His grandfather
was subject to all the hardships and privations of
that early period, and on one occasion barely escaped
loosing his scalp, the Indians having successfully
attacked his house, and rifled it of all that was valu-
able. For two or three years this residence was a
frontier clearing, and was farther north than any
other dwelling south of the valley of the St. Law-
rence.

Senator Scott remained at home with his father
until 1828, when he entered Union college, at Sche-
nectady, as a Sophomore, and graduated, in 1831,
with one of the first honors of his class. Having
completed his college course, he immediately entered
the law office of Messrs. Palmer & Goodrich, at Ball-
ston, where he remained about two years, and subse-
quently about a year in the office of Messrs. Brown
& Thompson, at the same place, the former of whom
died in 1840, while a member of Congress. He was
admitted to the bar in 1834, when he immediately
commenced to practice, and has continued to do so



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 93

ever since, with much more than ordinary success.
It is said that he has tried more causes as a referee
than any other lawyer in Saratoga county, having
always had the confidence of the people as a man of
sound judgment and a thorough knowledge of his pro-
fession. In 1838 he was appointed, by Gov. Marcy,
one of the Judges of the County Court, but resigned
in 1840, when his terra of office had about half ex-
pired, preferring to devote more of his time and
attention to his private practice. He was also a
Justice of the Peace from 1837 till 1849, and dis-
charged the duties of the office with marked ability
and entire satisfaction.

In 1846 he was a candidate for the Assembly, and
although Saratoga county was then strongly Whig,
came very near an election as the regular nominee of
the Democratic party. He was again nominated for
the Assembly in 1855, and was elected by a plurality
of seven hundred votes over the Republican, and
about five hundred over the American candidate. He
was a prominent member of the standing committee
on Ways and Means in 4he legislature, and was the
only Democratic member of the House placed upon
that committee. In 1856 he was again elected to the
Assembly, running far ahead of the rest of the Demo-
cratic ticket in his district, and was one of the most
active and prominent members of the standing com-
mittee on the Judiciary. It was during this session
that he made a speech on the negro suffrage question,
which at once established his reputation as a sound
thinker and a good debater. He took strong ground



94 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

against the doctrine of universal suffrage, and while
acknowledging that the negro had rights as well as
the white man, maintained that the former ought not
to be placed on an equal footing with the latter at the
ballot box. In the fall of 1857 the Democrats of the
Fifteenth Senatorial district, including the counties
of Saratoga, Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton,
brought him forward as a candidate for the seat
which he now occupies in the Senate, and he was
triumphantly elected by a handsome majority.

Senator Scott was married in 1839, to Miss Lucy
Lee, daughter of Joel Lee, a prominent citizen of
Ballston, who had held several responsible positions
at the hands of the people. He is one of the most
concise and logical debaters in the Senate, and is
truly remarkable for his calmness, self-possession,
and dignity while addressing that body. He is most
emphatically the right man in the right place, and
will no doubt be received, at the end of the session,
by his constituents, with the universal exclamation,
•' well done thou good and faithful servant."



SAMUEL SLOAN.

Senator Sloan was born on the 25th of December,
1817, in the beautiful little town of Lisburn, within
seven miles of Belfast, in the north of Ireland, and
is now forty years of age. When about two years
old his parents emigrated to this country, and settled



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 95

in the city of New York. In 1798, however, some of
his ancestors, owing to the political troubles of their
native land, emigrated and settled in the state of
Kentucky, where they and their numerous descend*
ants have distinguished themselves for their devotion
to republican institutions.

At an early age Senator Sloan became a pupil in
one of the public schools of New York. Subse-
quently he entered the grammar school of Columbia
college and pursued his studies until he was about
fifteen years of age, when owing to the sudden death
of his father, leaving his widowed mother, with five
orphan children, almost exclusively upon their own
resources, he was compelled to abandon his career
as a student and turn his attention to some more
practical mode of supporting himself and those in a
great measure depending upon him. He entered the
counting house of one of the most extensive English
importing houses in New York, and soon after became
a clerk in the old established house of McBride & Co.,
the founder of which, James McBride, recently de-
ceased, was for near half a century engaged in the
Irish and English trade, and everywhere known for
his strict integrity of character. Senator Sloan re-
mained in this house as clerk till 1845, when he be*
came partner under the name of George McBride, Jr.,
& Co. On the 1st day of January, 1857, the firm
was dissolved, and Senator Sloan having in Decem-
ber, 1855, been elected president of the Hudson River
rail-road company, retired from business and has
since devoted his whole attention to the interests of



96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

the company. He still holds this office, and as the
chief executiv^e officer of the company, has success-
fully carried it through one of the severest trials
experienced in rail-road management.

In the spring of 1844 Senator Sloan married Miss
Margaret Elmendorf, of Somerset county, N. J., a
member of one of the oldest families in that section
of the country, and removed to Brooklyn, where he
has always since resided. In 1852 he was elected as
Supervisor of Kings county, and in 1853 was appoint-
ed one of the commissioners to form a charter for the
consolidation of Brooklyn, Williamsburgh and Bush-
wick. In these positions he discharged his duties
wuth entire satisfaction to the people of the district
he represented. In 1852 he was a candidate for
nomination in the Democratic Congressional conven-
tion of his district, but although the largest number
of delegates were elected favorable to his nomination,
he was by some unfair means defeated by two votes.

He was never ambitious of political preferment,
always preferring to devote his whole time and atten-
tion to his own private affairs, but in the fall of 1857
the Democrats of the Second Senatorial district suc-
cessfully urged upon him the nomination for Senator.
The district was then strongly Republican, and his
competitor, Hon. Abijah Mann, Jr., enjoyed a high
reputation as a legislator, but the contest resulted in
the election of Mr. Sloan by a large majority.

Senator Sloan has always been a Democrat of the
National stamp. He is a prominent member of the
Dutch Reformed church, and has always been actively



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 97

connected with various benevolent and religious asso-
ciations: In his general deportment he is quiet and
unassuming; a skillful and correct business man; and
a reliable legislator. As a citizen he occupies a high
position in the city where he resides, and perhaps one
of the most interesting and sociable occasions that
has transpired in Brooklyn for many years was when
its citizens congratulated him, with a complimentary
dinner, in December last, upon his election to the
Senate. In person he is somewhat tall and slender;
has dark hair and eyes; a flushed face, and an honest,
thoughtful countenance. Having arisen by his own
exertions to the distinguished position he now occu-
pies, his whole history is another striking illustration
of the glorious influence of free republican institutions
in assigning to merit and genius their proper place
and reward.



JOSHUA B. SMITH.

Senator Smith was born in the town of Smithtown,
county of Suffolk, N.Y., on the 9th of February, 1801,
and has the appearance of being not more than forty
years of age, having, as yet, scarcely a gray hair in
his head. He is a lineal descendant of the sixth gene-
ration, and still resides on the old homestead, where
his father and grandfather lived and died. He belongs
to the "Bull Smith" stock, so called from the faet».
that the great-grandsire of the name, upon emigrating
to this country, from Yorkshire, England, purchased,,
9



98 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

for a certain stipend, as much land as he could ride
around in a day, and having no horses, which were
then scarce, he used a bull for the purpose, which he
had trained to the bridle.

Senator Smith owes nothing to a regular course of
education, having had the advantages only of an ordi-
nary district school, and is, in a very great degree, a
self-made man. He is a tiller of the soil, and from
his youth up, has always been a practical farmer. In
1827 he was appointed an Adjutant of the 137th regi-
ment of the New York state militia, under a commis-
sion of the late Gov. Marcy; and one year after, was
made Lieutenant- Colonel of the same regiment. In
1827 he was elected a Justice of the Peace, of the town
in which he lives, and is said to have discharged the
duties of the office in a highly satisfactory manner.
In 1832 he was appointed one of the Judges of the
court of Common Pleas, with the approval of the
Governor of the state, which approval, was, in those
days, indispensable, and held the position for two
terms, embracing a period of ten years. His father
had filled the same place before him for more than
twenty- five years, and was so successful in his career,
as a Judge, that he was permitted to occupy the posi-
tion, notwithstanding frequent changes in the admi-
nistration of' the state. His father was, also, for many
years, a distinguished and influential member of the
state Senate.

In the fall of 1838 Senator Smith was chosen a
member of Assembly, and was re-elected to the session
of 1843, during the administration of ex-Gov. Bouck.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 99

In the fall of the same year, he was nominated and
elected to the Senate, from what was then the Se-
cond Senatorial district, embracing a territory of
nine counties. The state was then divided into eight
Senatorial districts, and each district was entitled to
four Senators, who were elected for four years. In
the fall of 1857 the Democratic party again nominated
him for the Senate, with great unanimity, and he was
elected from what is now known as the First District,
embracing the counties of Suffolk, Queens and Rich-
mond.

Senator Smith has always been an old National
Democrat, as were also his father and grandfather
before him. He has always been an active politician,
feeling a deep interest in whatever pertains to the
welfare of the country; but has never been what is
usually termed a political demagogue or intriguer.
Strong proof of this is the fact, that while he has
not unfrequently refused many prominent positions at
the hands of the people, he has never sought to avoid
any duty which he felt he owed them. He fills his
position in the Senate with dignity and ability, and,
although not a frequent talker, possesses an influence
which is seldom disregarded in the proceedings of that
body.

The Senator is a tall man, standing full six feet in
his stockings; is quick, active in step, having an elas-
tic frame, capable of endurance; and has black hair,
a smooth face, and a penetrating, hazel eye.



100 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

FRANCIS B. SPINOL A.

Senator Spinola was born on the 19th of March,
1821, at Stony Brook, Suffolk county, N. Y. His
father, who came to this country at an early age, to
complete his education, and who finally settled here,
was a native of the island of Madeira, and his pater-
nal grand-father was an Italian. Both his mother and
maternal grand-mother were natives of Long Island,
and his maternal grand-father, who served through the
Revolutionary war, as an officer, was an Irishman.

In early life Senator Spinola received but very little
schooling, and when nearly sixteen years of age, was
apprenticed to the trade of a jeweler. He served his
time at this business, until he was twenty- one years
of age, when he abandoned it, on account of an un-
usual degree of inactivity in the trade. Being an
extremely handy youth, he then turned his attention
to black-smithing, which he followed nearly a year,
when he engaged in the grocery business. After pur*
suing this occupation a short time, he engaged himself
to work at the carpenter's trade, which he followed
nearly a year, when he was appointed an Assistant to
the Clerk of the Common Council, of the city of Brook-
lyn, where he then, and has always since, resided. This
post he occupied about a year, his engagement having
been only for a specific amount of work, which he had
completed within that period, and he then became a
clerk in the office of the Hon. Cyrus P. Smith, with
whom he remained a year. Shortly after, he was
appointed Assistant Clerk of the Common Council,



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. lOl

which position he filled until he was elected Alder-
man, from the Second ward, in 1846. He was again
the Whig candidate in the following year, and al-
though the ward had always bein one of the Demo-
cratic strong-holds, was defeated by only one vote. In
the following spring, however, he was again elected,
and was subsequently re-elected four different times.
At the expiration of his term of office, as Alderman,
he was elected three successive years as Supervisor,
and in the fall of 1855, was the successful Democratic
candidate in his district, for the Assembly. In 1857
he was brought forward by the Democrats of the Third
district, as a candidate for the Senate, and was tri-
umphantly elected to that body, by a large majority,
over the combined Republican and American vote. In
addition to all these positions, he also held the post
of Harbor Master five years, which he received from
Gov. Young, and has been an active member of the
fire department for twenty years, filling consecutively
all the different offices, save that of Chief Engineer.

Senator Spinola commenced his political career, as a
zealous and consistent admirer of Henry Clay, and
continued to act with the Whig party, until it resolved
itself out of existence, when his conservative views on
the Slavery question, led him into the Democratic
ranks, where he has always since steadfastly remained.
He was elected a member of the Whig general com-
mittee, before he was twenty-one years of age, in the
city of Brooklyn, and was then, as he is now, and as
he always has been, one of the most active and influ-


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Online LibraryWilliam D MurphyBiographical sketches of the state officers and members of the Legislature of the state of New York, in 1858 → online text (page 6 of 15)