Brief Sketches on Important Men of New York City

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Acton, Thomas Coxon

(1823-98). An American financier and administrator. He was born in New York City, and served as assistant deputy county clerk (1850-53) and as deputy register. He was a police commissioner of the New York metropolitan police in 1860-69, and during the last seven years was president of the board. His most valuable service while in that office was during the draft riots in 1863, when for a week he personally commanded the entire police force of the city.


Adler, Samuel (1809-91). A German American rabbi and author, born at Worms, Germany. He studied at the universities of Bonn and Giessen, and from 1842 to 1857 was rabbi of congregations in Alzey and vicinity. From 1857 to 1874 he was rabbi of the congregation Emanu-El of New York City. He was a learned Talmudic scholar and an earnest progressionist. His works include Jewish Conference Papers (1880), Benedictions (1882), and Kobez 'al Yad (Collections, 1886).

Adler, Felix

(1851-----). A German American educator and reformer. He was born August 13, 1851, at Alzey, Germany, and came to the United States in 1857, where his father had been called to the ministry of Temple Emanu-El at New York. After graduating at Columbia College in 1870, he studied philosophy and economics at the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg, receiving the degree of Ph.D. in 1873. On his return to New York he was appointed professor of Hebrew and Oriental literature at Cornell University, and held this position from 1874 to 1876, when he organized at New York the Society for Ethical Culture (q.v.), with which his name has since been identified. Professor Adler is widely known as a lecturer and writer. His principal literary works are: The Moral Instruction of Children (New York, 1898).

Barnum, Phineas Taylor

(1810-91). An American showman, born at Bethel, Conn. His father was a tavern-keeper; and while attending the village school, Barnum traded with and played practical jokes upon his father's customers. At the age of 13 he was employed in a country store, and at 18 went largely into the lottery business. When only 19, he married clandestinely, and moved to Danbury, where he edited The Herald of Freedom, and was imprisoned sixty days for a libel. In 1834 he removed to New York, where, hearing of Joyce Heth, alleged nurse of Washington, he bought her for $1000, and with the aid of forged documents and puffing, exhibited her to considerable profit. Reduced again to poverty, he sold Bibles, exhibited negro dancers, and wrote for newspapers, until he bought the American Museum in New York, which he raised at once to prosperity by exhibiting a Japanese mermaid, made of a fish and a monkey, also a white negress, a woolly horse, and finally a noted dwarf, styled "General Tom Thumb," whom he exhibited also in Europe in 1844.

In 1847 he offered Jenny Lind $1000 a night for 150 nights. The tickets were sold at auction, a single ticket bringing, in one case, as much as $650; and his gross receipts for 95 concerts were over $700,000. He built a villa at Bridgeport, in imitation of the Brighton Pavilion, and engaged in various speculations, one of which---a clock factory---made him bankrupt. Settling with his creditors in 1857, he engaged anew in his career of audacious enterprises, and made another fortune. Two of his museums having been destroyed by fire in 1865 and 1868, he established in 1871 his Greatest Show on Earth," a traveling circus and menagerie, with many new features. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1866, but was four times elected to the Connecticut Legislature. His Autobiography (1854, since greatly enlarged) has at least the merit of frankness. In 1865 he published The Humbugs of the World, and 1869 Struggles and Triumphs.

Booth, Ballington

(1859---) . The organizer and leader of the "Volunteers of America" (q.v.) He was born in London, the second son of William Booth (q.v.), founder of the Salvation Army. In 1887 he was sent to the United States with his wife, Maud (born near London, in 1865), and had charge of the work in this country till 1896, when disagreeing with his father's plan of operations in the United States and Canada, he withdrew from the Salvation Army and organized a similar body under the name of the Volunteers of America. In order to bring the work of the new organization into closer harmony with that of the various churches, he obtained ordination as a presbyter of the Evangelical Church in Chicago. Both he and his wife are fluent writers and eloquent speakers. He published From Ocean to Ocean (1890). 

Burchard, Samuel Dickinson

(1812-91). An American Presbyterian clergyman, born in Steuben, N.Y. He graduated at Centre College in 1836, and soon became prominent in Kentucky as an anti-slavery and temperance lecturer. He became pastor of the Houston Street Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1839, and of the Murray Hill Church in 1879, but in 1885 he withdrew from active work, and became pastor emeritus. On October 29, 1884, toward the end of the bitter Blaine-Cleveland Presidential campaign, he was the spokesman of a large party of clergymen of all denominations, who waited upon Blaine at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City to assure him of their support. Toward the end of his generally temperate address, he characterized the Democratic Party as the party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion." This unfortunate alliteration, which Blaine did not at the time take the pains to repudiate, was immediately made use of by the Democrats as campaign material. The words were printed on leaflets which were spread broadcast among the voters, flaring placards, ringing endless changes on the letters "R.R.R.," were exhibited in all the large cities, and the Democratic press persistently attributed the sentiment to Blaine himself and charged him with being a rabid anti-Catholic. It is generally believed that the phrase alienated enough Catholic voters in New York State alone, where the Democratic majority was only 1047 votes, to turn the national election, which hinged on the electoral vote of New York, to Cleveland.

Coler, Bird Sim

(1868---). An American politician, born in Illinois. He established himself as a stock-broker in New York City, became prominent in municipal and State politics, and served as first Comptroller of Greater New York during the administration of Robert Van Wyck as Mayor. In 1902 he was the Democratic nominee for Governor of New York, but was defeated by a small plurality in spite of the enormous vote cast for him in the city of New York. He published MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT. (1900).

Damrosch, Frank

(1859---)A prominent American musician, son of Leopold Damrosch. He was born in Breslau. At first a clerk in a music store in Denver, he later drilled the chorus in the German opera in New York, which his father conducted. In 1892 he organized the People's Singing Classes in New York. Of these, now numbering about 1500 members, the more advanced form the People's Choral Union. They are most important factors in popularizing music, and their annual concerts are of a high artistic order. Damrosch also became conductor of the Oratorio society, Symphony Society, president of the Musical Arts Society, and supervisor of music in the public schools of New York City.

Damrosch, Leopold

(1832-85) A German-American musician, violinist, composer, and conductor, born in Posen, Prussia. His parents chose the profession of medicine for him, and after graduating at the University of Berlin he returned to Posen to practice; but his passionate love of music, which he had continued to study incidentally, prevailed, and in 1854 he abandoned medicine for the study of counterpoint and composition under Hubert, Ries, and Dehn. In 1855 he started out as a concert violinist in Magdeburg; became acquainted with Liszt, and under his influence began to write for the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik. He was director in Posen and in Breslau, and in 1871 came to New York as director of the Arion Society. The credit of firmly establishing choral organizations in New York belongs entirely to Damrosch. He founded the Oratorio Society (1873) and the Symphony Society (1877), and organized several large musical festivals. All these played a most important part in the musical life of New York City. But the most brilliant achievement of his life was the successful establishment, in 1884, of German opera in New York City, at the Metropolitan Opera House, notwithstanding the obvious
difficulties of the undertaking. Among the operas given, Fidelio, Tannhauser, Lohengrin, and Die Walkure were the most important as comparative novelties. He died in New York, and imposing funeral services were held in the Opera House. His works comprise several cantatas, a festival overture, beside violin concertos and songs.

Damrosch, Walter Johannes

(1862---) An American musician, son of Leopold Damrosch, born in Breslau, Prussia. He came to the United States and was made conductor of the Harmonic Society of Newark, N.J., in 1881, and organist of PLYMOUTH CHURCH, BROOKLYN, in 1884. In 1885 he succeeded his father as conductor of the oratorio and Symphony societies, and became assistant conductor of German opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. In 1894-99 he directed several operatic ventures, at first German, and subsequently French and Italian. In 1900-01 he conducted the German operas at the Metropolitan Opera House. He produced, in 1896, an opera, The Scarlet Letter, founded on the novel by Hawthorne, composed a "Te Deum," in honor of Dewey's victory in Manila Bay, and shorter pieces and songs. His music is melodious, and the accompaniments to his songs are often striking.

Davis, Noah

(1818-1902). An American jurist. He was born in Haverhill, N.H., removed to Albion, N.Y., with his parents in 1825, was admitted to the New York Bar in 1841, and practiced in Buffalo and other western cities in that State. He served for three terms as a justice of the New York Supreme Court, was a member of Congress in 1869-70, and in 1872 again became a justice of the State Supreme Court. The famous trials of Edward Stokes and W.M. Tweed were held before him, and he sentenced Tweed to twelve years' imprisonment, accumulative sentence, which was later disallowed by the Court of Appeals. He was Chief Justice from 1874 until 1887, when he resigned.

Drachman, Bernard

(1861---). An American rabbi and author, born in New York City. He graduated at Columbia in 1882, studied at Breslau, and became a rabbi in Breslau in 1885. In 1887 he was appointed professor of biblical exegesis and Hebrew philosophy in the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York, and in 1889 dean of the seminary and rabbi of the Congregation "Zichron Ephraim." He is one of the few American rabbis to support consistently the traditional Judaistic faith. His publications include Die Stellung und Bedeutung des Jehuda Hajjug in der Geschichte der hebraischen Grammatik (1885), and a translation into English of S.R. Hirsch's German work, The Nineteen Letters of Ben Uziel.

Duryee, Abram

(1815-90) An American soldier. He was born in New York City, was educated in the common schools and afterwards acquired considerable wealth as a dealer in mahogany furniture. He entered the State militia in 1833, became colonel of the Twenty-seventh Regiment (now the Seventh) in 1849, and took a conspicuous part in suppressing the numerous riots which occurred between that time and 1861. At the beginning of the Civil War he raised a regiment which became widely known as "Duryee's Zouaves." He was promoted to be brigadier-general of volunteers in August, 1861, but resigned from the service in January, 1863, owing to a disagreement over a question of rank. In 1865 he was brevetted major-general for 'gallant and meritorious services' at the battles of Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock Station, Thoroughfare Gap, Goveton, Chantilly, South Mountain, and Antietam. He was appointed police commissioner of New York City in 1873, and in the following year attacked and dispersed a company of communists assembled in Tompkins Square.

Earle, Pliny

(1809-92) An American psychiatrist, born at Leicester, Mass. he received his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1837; was a resident physician at Friends' Asylum for the Insane, Frankford, Pa., from 1840 to 1844; superintendent of Bloomingdale Asylum, New York City, from 1844 to 1853; visiting physician to the New York City Asylum, Blackwell's Island, from 1853 to 1864; professor of materia medica and psychology in the Berkshire Medical Institution at Pittsfield, Mass., from 1863 to 1864; and
superintendent of the State Lunatic Hospital, Northampton, Mass., from 1864 to 1885. Dr. Earle was for many years a recognized authority in psychiatry. He published " A Visit to Thirteen Asylums for the Insane in Europe" (1841); "Bloodletting in Mental Disorders" (1854); "Institutions for the Insane in Prussia, Austria, and Germany" (1854); "Psychologic Medicine, Its Importance as a Part of the Medical Curriculum" (1867); "The Psychopathic Hospital of the Future" (1867); "Prospective Provision for the Insane" (1868); "
Curability of Insanity" (1877); and many pamphlets and essays.

Philip Embury

(1729-75). The first Methodist minister in America. He was born of German parents at Ballygaran, Ireland, September 21, 1729. He emigrated to America in 1760. In 1766 he organized a "class" in New York and began preaching, at first in his own house on Barrack Street, now Park Place, and in 1767 in the rigging loft, on what is now William Street, which has become famous as the cradle of Methodism in the United States. A chapel was built in 1768 on the site of the old John Street Church, partly by Embury's own hands. In 1769 preachers sent out by Wesley arrived in New York, and Embury went as a missionary to the neighborhood of Albany. He continued there as a local preacher and organized a church at Ashgrove. He died from an accident, August, 1775.

Emmett, Daniel Decatur

(1815---). An American actor and song-writer, originator of "negro minstrel" performances. He was born at Mount Vernon, Ohio, and after serving in the army, joined a circus company in 1835. In 1842, in association with "Frank" Brown, 'Billy' Whitlock, and 'Dick' Phelam, he organized the 'Virginia Minstrels,' the first company of its kind, which made its first appearance at the old Chatham Square Theatre, New York City, February 17, 1843, and subsequently appeared in Boston and in England, where Emmett remained until 1844. In 1859 Emmett composed the famous song of Dixie, afterwards the war-song of the South. His publications include such popular songs as "Old Dan Tucker," "Boatman's Dance," "The Road to Richmond," "Walk Along, John," and "Early in the Mornin."

Emmet, Thomas Addis

(1828---). An American gynecologist, born at Charlottesville, Va. His father, Dr. John Patten Emmet, was professor of chemistry and materia medica at the University of Virginia. His grandfather was Thomas Addis Emmet, an Irish lawyer and a leader of the United Irishmen, afterwards Attorney General of the State of New York; and his grand-uncle was the Irish patriot Robert Emmet. After a partial academic course at the University of Virginia, Dr. Emmet received his medical degree from the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in 1850. He then acted for two years, as physician in the Emigrant Hospital, Ward's Island, and after 1852 practiced medicine in New York City. From 1855 to 1862 he was also assistant surgeon, from 1862 to 1872 surgeon-in-chief, and from 1872 to 1900 visiting surgeon, in the Women's Hospital of the State of New York. In 1876 he was appointed consulting physician to Roosevelt Hospital, New York City. Dr. Emmet contributed a number of interesting papers to medical magazines; but his chief literary work is his Principles and Practice of Gynecology (1879).

Evarts, William Maxwell

(1818-1901). An eminent American lawyer and statesman. He studied at the Harvard Law School until 1839. In 1841 he was admitted to the bar. He was Deputy United States District Attorney from 1849 until 1851, and District Attorney from 1851 until 1853. In 1860 he attended the National Republican Convention in Chicago as the chairman of the New York delegation, and nominated Seward for the Presidency. During the Civil War he was secretary of the Union Defense Committee, and was sent by President Lincoln on a diplomatic mission to England. He was the senior counsel of President Johnson in the great impeachment trial of 1868 (see JOHNSON, ANDREW), and did much to secure his acquittal. From July 1868, until March 4, 1869, he was Attorney-General of the United States. In 1872 he acted as chief counsel of the United States before the Geneva Court of Arbitration.

In the contest between Hayes and Tilden in 1877 for the succession to the Presidency, Evarts was the leading counsel of the Republicans before the Electoral Commission (q.v.). He was appointed Secretary of State by President Hayes, and served throughout the term. In 1881 he was sent as a delegate of the United States to the International Monetary Conference at Paris, and from 1885 to 1891 he served in the United States Senate. He then retired both from politics and from the bar, and lived in New York City until his death. Only a few of his public addresses have been published. Among these are the eulogy on Chief Justice Chase, delivered at Dartmouth in 1873 ; the Centennial oration delivered in Philadelphia in 1876 ; and his orations at the unveiling of statues in New York to William Seward and Daniel Webster.

Frey, Joseph Samuel Christian Frederick

(1773-1850). An American clergyman, born at Mainstockheim (Bavaria), Germany. As a Jew he was instructed in Hebrew theology, in 1794 became a leader in the Synagogue, in 1798 turned Protestant Christian, and in 1800-07 was a missionary of the London Missionary Society among Hebrews in the United Kingdom. In 1816 he came to the United States, in 1818 founded and was appointed pastor of the Mulberry Street Congregational Church, New York City, and in 1820 established the American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews, whose object was to receive and make provision for Hebrew immigrants from all nations. He left the Congregational Church to join the Baptists in 1827, and after having occupied several pastorates in the Baptist denomination, resigned, and in 1837-40 labored with little success in Europe as a representative of the American Society for the Conversion of the Jews. In 1840 he returned to the United States, and later he settled at Pontiac, Mich., where he was instructor in Hebrew in the preparatory department of the University of Michigan. His publications include: A Narrative of My Life (1809); Judah and Israel (1837); and Joseph and Benjamin: A Series of Letters on the Controversy Between Jews and Christians (2 vols., 1842).

Garnet, Henry Highland

(1815-82). An Afro-American clergyman and orator, born a slave in New Market, Md. He was a pure-blooded negro of the Mendigo tribe. When he was ten years old his parents successfully escaped from Maryland, taking him with them, and in 1826 settled in New York City. He was educated at Canaan Academy, New Hampshire, and at Oneida Institute, near Utica, N.Y. After graduating at the latter institution in 1840, he studied theology, and two years later became pastor of a Presbyterian church in Troy. He became actively associated with the leaders of the abolition movement, and published for a time the CLARION, a weekly paper devoted to the cause. In 1850 he went to Europe, and spent the greater part of the next three years lecturing on the slavery question in Great Britain. He was a delegate to the peace congress at Frankfort in 1851, and in 1853 was sent to Jamaica as a missionary by the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In 1855 he returned to the United States to take charge of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church in New York City. There he remained until 1881, with the exception of a four years pastorate at Washington, D.C., in 1865-69. Shortly before
President Garfield's assassination he was appointed by him Minister Resident and consul-General for the United States in Liberia. The appointment was renewed by President Arthur and confirmed by the Senate, but Garnet died a few months after taking charge of his new post.

Harris, William Victor

(1869---). An American song composer, born in New York. He was a pupil of Charles Blumm, William Courtney, F.K. Schilling, and Anton Seidl. He was a successful organist, and from 1889 to 1895 held important appointments in Tuxedo Park, Brooklyn, and New York. He was for three years a teacher and coach at the Metropolitan Opera, New York; for one season was conductor of the Utica Choral Union, and served as assistant conductor under Seidl at the Brighton Beach summer concerts (1895-96). He afterwards took up his residence in New York, and established himself as a vocal instructor and composer. He published compositions for piano, organ, and chorus, but is principally known for his songs, which have been remarkably successful.

Hudson, Erasmus Darwin

(1843-87). An American physician, born in Massachusetts. He graduated at the College of the City of New York in 1864, and at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, in 1867. During 1867-68 he was house surgeon at Bellevue Hospital. In 1869-70 he was health inspector of New York City; in 1870 was attending physician to the class for diseases of the eye in the out-door department of Bellevue Hospital; was attending physician at Northwestern Dispensary in 1870-72, and attending physician to Trinity Chapel parish and Trinity Home in 1870-75. He was appointed professor of principles and practice of medicine at the Woman's Medical College of the New York Infirmary in 1872, and held that position for ten years; and from 1882 until his death was professor of general medicine and diseases of the chest in the New York Polyclinic. He was the author of the following professional works: "Report of Pulse and Respiration of Infants," in Eliot's Obstetric Clinic (1872); Doctors, Hygiene and Therapeutics (1877); Methods of Examining Weak Chests (1885); Limitations of the Diagnosis of Malaria (1885); Home Treatment of Consumptives (1886); and Physical Diagnosis of
Thoracic Diseases (2d ed. 1887). 

Hudson, Frederic

(1819-75). An American journalist, born in Quincy, Mass. After a common-school education he went to New York City in 1836, and became attached to the New York Herald, of which he soon became managing editor, which position he held until 1866. His long experience and diligence in collecting gave him abundant material for his Record of Journalism in the United States from 1690 to 1872, published in 1873, which is perhaps the most accurate and interesting history yet published of the rise and development of the American Newspaper.

Jacobi, Abraham

(1830---). An eminent German American physician, born at Hartum, Westphalia, Germany. He studied at the universities of Greifswald, Gottingen, and Bonn, obtaining his degree in medicine from the last named institution. Having been an active participant in the struggle for free Germany in 1848 and thereafter, Jacobi was prosecuted for treason and was kept in Prussian prisons from 1851 to 1853. In the latter year, after spending a few months in Manchester, England, he came to America, and established himself in New York City. In 1857 he took an active part in founding the German dispensary. In 1860 he was chosen to fill the first chair of diseases of children instituted in this country, that of the New York Medical College. In 1865 he was elected to fill a similar chair in the medical department of the University of the City of New York . 

In 1868 he took part in founding the German Hospital of New York. His position at New York University he occupied till 1870, when he was chosen clinical professor of the diseases of children in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City (medical department of Columbia University). The latter position he retained until his resignation in 1902, when he was made professor emeritus. He was the first to establish in New York City, systematic and special clinics for the diseases of children, and very largely to him is due the recognition of pediatrics as a distinct branch of medicine. In 1895 he was urged to leave New York and become professor of pediatrics in the University of Berlin, but he declined the honor. He was for many years consulting physician to the New York City Department of Health, to the J. Hood Wright Memorial Hospital, and to the New York Skin and Cancer Hospital, and visiting p Hospital from 1860, to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum from 1868, to Bellevue Hospital from 1873, and to Roosevelt Hospital from 1898. Dr. Jacobi's writings are very numerous. A great number of his papers, principally on diseases of women and children, were published in medical and other periodicals in this country and in Germany.

Among his book-form publications are: Cogitationes de Vita Rerum Naturalium (1851) Dentition and Its Derangements (1862) ; Infant Diet (1873) ; 3d. ed. 1875) ; A Treatise on Diphtheria (1880) ; The Intestinal Diseases of Infancy and Childhood (1887) ; Therapeutics of Infancy and Childhood (1895 ; 2d. ed. 1897). His contributions to Noeggerath and Jacobi's Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Children (1859) and his "Hygiene und Pflege der Kinder," in Gerhardt's Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten (1877), are most noteworthy. In 1893 he published two volumes of miscellaneous essays and addresses on a variety of subjects, mostly medical under the title Aufsatze, Vortrage und Reden (1893). In 1873 he was married to Miss Mary C. Putnam, of New York, herself a noted physician, author, and teacher. See Jacobi, Mary Putnam.

Jennings, Louis John

(1836-93). An Anglo-American journalist, editor, and author, born in London. In 1860 he joined the staff of the London Times, and in 1863 went as its special correspondent to India, for a period acting as editor of the Times of India. After 1865 he succeeded Dr. Charles Mackay as the Times representative in the United States. In 1867 he married Miss Madeline Henriques of New York, and took up his residence in that city. He was appointed to the editorship of the NEW YORK TIMES, and his tenure of that office was marked by his scathing and dauntless exposure of the malpractices in the municipal government of New York, which resulted in the prosecution and condemnation of the chief members of the Tweed Ring. In 1876 he returned to England and engaged in various literary pursuits and in politics, being elected Conservative member for Stockport in 1885 and 1886. His published works include: Eighty Years of Republican Government in the United States (1868) ; Field Paths and Green Lanes: Being Country Walks Chiefly in Surrey and Sussex (1877): Rambles Among the Hills in the Peak of Derbyshire and the South Downs (1880) ; The Millionaire, a Novel (3 vols., 1883) ; and Mr. Gladstone: A Study (1887).

Jesup, Morris Ketchum

(1830---). An American merchant and philanthropist. He was born at Westport, Conn., and was educated there and in New York City. In 1843 he entered the employ of a manufacturing firm at Paterson, N.J. In 1852 he went into business on his own account, from which he retired in 1884. He is best known for his philanthropic work and his interest in scientific exploration. He was one of the organizers of the United States Christian Commission during the Civil War, was one of the founders of the Young Men's Christian Association, and its president in 1872, was president after 1860 of the Five Points House of Industry, of which he was one of the founders, and after 1881 was president of the New York City Mission Society, for which he built the De Witt Memorial Church in Rivington Street.

 In 1881 he became president of the American Museum of Natural History, to which he gave a valuable collection of native woods. He presented Jesup Hall to the Union Theological Seminary, and endowed the Jesup North Pacific Expedition for scientific research. He was chosen president of the New York Chamber of Commerce and was President of the International Congress of Anthropology in 1902. To the subject of Southern education, especially that of the negro, he gave much time and thought. He was made treasurer of the Slater Fund at its beginning, and he was also made a member of the Peabody Educational Board and of the General Education Board.

Kelly, John

(1821-86). An American politician. He was born in New York City, had a common-school education, was apprenticed to a mason, and at the age of twenty-four started in business for himself. He soon became interested in politics, for which he had a decided aptitude; entered Tammany Hall; became a member of the Tammany General Committee in 1849, and in 1854 was elected alderman from the Fourteenth Ward. He then served in Congress from 1855 to 1858, attracting attention by his vigorous opposition to the Native American or Know-Nothing movement, and from 1858 to 1861, and again from 1865 to 1868, served as Sheriff of New York County, in which capacity he accumulated a considerable fortune by taking full though legitimate advantage of the financial opportunities which this office then offered. He spent the years 1869-71 in Europe, and on his return took an active part with Tilden and O'Conor in the fight against William M. Tweed (q.v.).

He was called upon at the same time to effect the general reorganization of Tammany Hall, and this he did to the satisfaction of most of the better element of the New York Democracy. Thenceforth until 1884 he was regarded as the autocrat and dictator of the Tammany organization, though there was considerable discord on several occasions, notably in 1876. He was appointed Comptroller by Mayor Wickham, but was subsequently removed by Mayor Cooper. In 1879 He quarreled with Governor Robinson, the regular Democratic nominee for the Governorship of the State, and by running for that office himself on an independent ticket, successfully divided the Democratic vote and brought about the election of Alonzo B. Cornell, the Republican candidate. Kelly took an active interest in national as well as in State and city politics, and in 1884 made a stubborn but unsuccessful effort to prevent the nomination of Grover Cleveland for the Presidency. Though he was often accused of resorting to questionable methods to secure his ends, he was seldom charged with personal dishonesty, and was widely known by the sobriquet "Honest John Kelly."

Norton, Frank Henry

(1836---). An American author and journalist, born in Hingham, Mass., and educated at the Dwight School in Boston and at the Pictou Academy, Nova Scotia. He was assistant librarian and then assistant superintendent of the Astor Library, New York City, from 1855 to 1865, and from 1866 to 1867 was head librarian of the Mercantile Library of Brooklyn. In 1872 he entered journalism from 1879 to 1881 was editor and owner of the New York ERA, and from 1883 to 1891 was a member of the New York HERALD staff. He wrote various burlesques and melodramas, among which are Alhambra, Azrael, Cupid and Psyche, and Leonie, and published Historical Register of the Centennial Exhibition, 1876, and of the Paris Exposition 1878 (1878); Life of Winfield Scott Hancock (with D.K. Junkin, 1880): Life of Alexander H. Stephens (1883); Daniel Boone (1883); and The Malachite Cross (1894)

O' Conor, Charles

(1804-84). An eminent American lawyer. He was born in New York City, and was admitted to the bar in 1824. He devoted himself with great energy and enthusiasm to his profession, and in a very few years was recognized as one of the ablest and most brilliant members of the New York b 1848 was a member of the directory of the Friends of Ireland. He was a strong believer in the doctrine of State's rights, and throughout the Civil War was warmly in sympathy with the South. After the close of the War he voluntarily offered his services as counsel for Jefferson Davis when indicted for treason, and afterwards with Horace Greeley went on his bail bond. He was associated with William M. Evarts and Wheeler H. Peckham in the prosecution of the "Tweed Ring" conspirators, and the organization of the suits against them was largely his work. In 1872 he was nominated, in the face of his absolute refusal, for President of the United States, by a convention held at Louisville, Ky., composed of that portion of the Democratic Party which declined to indorse the Liberal Republican nomination of Horace Greeley. John Quincy Adams, the nominee for Vice-President, also
declined, but the ticket remained in the field and 29,489 votes were cast for it.

Peckham, Wheeler Hazard

(1833---). An American lawyer, son of Rufus Wheeler Peckham, born in Albany and educated at Union College. He studied law in the office of Peckham and Tremain, practiced in New York City with his father, then in Saint Paul until 1862, and in 1864 again in New York. His growing fame as a constitutional lawyer and his argument on the constitutionality of taxing greenbacks won him the friendship of his opponent in this case, Charles O'Conor, who as Deputy-Attorney-General during the exposure of the Tweed ring made Peckham his assistant. In 1884 he was appointed district attorney of New York City, but soon returned to law practice in the firm of Miller, Peckham & Dixon. In January, 1894, President Cleveland nominated him for the Supreme Court, at a time when he was president of the State Bar Association. But the nomination was not confirmed by the Senate, because of the opposition of the New York Senators to Mr. Peckham's anti-machine Democracy. In 1896 he took a firm hand in favor of sound money.

Seymour, Horatio

(1810-86). An American political leader, the son of Henry Seymour, a colleague and supporter of De Witt Clinton. He was born at Pompey Hill, Onondaga County, N.Y., was educated at Geneva Academy (later Hobart College) and at Middletown (Conn.) Military Academy, studied law at Utica, and in 1832 was admitted to the bar. In 1841, as chairman of the Canal Committee in the State Legislature, he prepared an elaborate report, which served for many years as the basis of all legislation in connection with the State canals. In 1842-46 he was Mayor of Utica, and in 1852 he was elected Governor of New York. The period of his Governorship was marked by bitter factional strife within the party, and by a powerful temperance movement which, in the end, resulted in his defeat for reelection.

The State Legislature passed a prohibition law which he vetoed, and in 1854, he was defeated for reelection by Myron H. Clark, the Whig and Temperance candidate. The identical law which was again passed was subsequently held to be unconstitutional. When the election of Lincoln made civil war seem inevitable he exerted every effort to effect a compromise, but eventually gave his support to the Lincoln Administration. In 1862 he was again elected Governor of New York. He advocated the vigorous prosecution of the war, but protested against the extensive use of the war powers by President Lincoln. He was unremitting in his endeavors to keep New York's full quota of troops in the field.

His attitude in regard to the draft riots in New York City in the middle of July, 1863, was the cause of much harsh criticism at the time, but his measures proved efficacious, and within a year a Republican Legislature had passed resolutions thanking him for his action. In 1868 he was president of the Democratic National Convention which met in New York City and by which he, himself, was nominated for the Presidency. He received only 80 electoral votes to 214 for General Grant. The popular vote was ; For Grant, 3,012,833 ; for Seymour, 2,703,249. After this defeat he took no further part in political affairs. Consult: Hartley, Horatio Seymour (Utica, 1886) ; and Croly, Seymour and Blair ; Their Lives and Services (New York, 1868).

Shea, John Dawson Gilmary

(1824-92). An American historian. He was born in New York, educated at the Columbia Grammar School, and admitted to the bar. He gave himself chiefly to historical research, mainly in connection with French colonization and Jesuit missions in America. He published prayer-books, school histories, the Catholic Almanac, and edited the Historical Magazine (1859-65). Among his scholarly historical treatises may be named: The Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley (1853); History of the Catholic Missions Among the
Indian Tribes of the United States (1854); Early Voyages Up and Down the Mississippi (1862); Novum Belgium; An Account of the New Netherlands in 1643-44 (1862); The Operations of the French Fleet Under Count de Grasse (1864). Mention should also be made of the three volumes of his unfinished History of the Catholic Church in the United States, as well as of his Indian grammars, translations of Charlevoix and similar writers, and his editions of early American historical tracts.

Sicard, Montgomery

(1836-1900). An American naval officer. He was born in New York City, graduated in 1855 at the United States Naval Academy, and served through the Civil War. He participated in the bombardment and passage of Forts Jackson and Saint Philip, and the Chalmette batteries, and in the passage of the batteries at Vicksburg. When subsequently in the South Atlantic squadron, he took part in the various attacks on Fort Fischer (1864-65), and in the bombardment of Fort Anderson (1865). From 1865 to 1869 he was stationed at the Naval Academy, from 1869 to 1871 he was in the Pacific fleet, in 1870 was promoted to be commander, and in 1870-78 was on ordnance duty at New York City and Washington. In 1878 he commanded in the North Atlantic squadron, and in 1879 was assigned to special duty at Washington. In 1880 he took command of the Boston Navy Yard , and in 1881-90 was chief of the Ordnance Bureau at Washington with rank of captain. He was for a time in command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, afterwards commanded the North Atlantic squadron with rank of ear-admiral, was in 1878 appointed president of the strategy board, and retired in the same year.

Sickles, Daniel Edgar 

(1825--) An American soldier and politician, born in New York City. He was educated at the New York University, studied law, and was admitted to practice in 1846. In the following years he sat as a Tammany Democrat in the State Assembly. In 1853 he was appointed corporation counsel of New York City, and was Secretary of Legation at London under United States Minister Buchanan from 1853 to 1855, when he returned to the United States and was elected to the New York State Senate. From 1857 to 1861 he was a Democratic member of Congress. During this period he shot and killed Philip Barton Key, United States District Attorney for the District of Columbia, for adultery with his wife, but was acquitted after a sensational trial lasting twenty days.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he raised the Excelsior (New York) Brigade, becoming Colonel of one of its regiments, the Seventieth New York Volunteers. He was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers in September, 1861, and major-general in November, 1862. He commanded a brigade in McClellan's Peninsular campaign and at Antietam, commanded a division at Fredericksburg, and was in command of the Third Army Corps at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. On the second day of the battle of Gettysburg his corps sustained the brunt of the Confederate attack upon the Peach Orchard, on the Federal left, and Sickles himself lost a leg. (see Gettysburg, Battle of). He continued in the service , however; was commander of the Department of the Carolinas in 1866-67, was brevetted brigadier-general and major-general in the Regular Army for services at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg repectively, served for a time as colonel of the Forty-second Infantry, and on April 14, 1869, was retired with the full rank of major-general. 

In 1867 he was sent on a secret diplomatic mission to South America.. He was Minister to Spain from 1869 until 1873, and presented the demands of the United States for reparation for the execution of the captain and crew of the Virginius (see Virginious Massacre). He was sheriff of New York County in 1890, was again elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1892, and for several years was president of the New York State Board of Civil Service Commissioners.

Smith, Andrew Hermance

(1837---). An eminent American Physician, born in Saratoga County, N.Y., and educated at Union College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City. He served as surgeon of United States Volunteers in 1861-62 and as assistant surgeon in the United States Army in 1862-68, resigning in the latter year to practice medicine in New York City. He served for many years as attending physician to Saint Luke's and the Presbyterian Hospitals, and was for a long period a surgeon in the throat department of the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital. He became a member of the Association of American Physicians, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Berlin Gesellschaft fur Heilkunde, and was president of the New York Academy of Medicine and president of the Medical Association of Greater New York in 1902-03. Dr. Smith's contributions to our knowledge of pneumonia were frequent and notable, and to him is due the credit of suggesting and exploiting the medical uses of oxygen (q.v.). He also published much original work upon the malady termed by him caisson disease (q.v.), which he studied when serving as surgeon to the New York Bridge Company, during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Besides many monographs on other medical themes, his publications include valuable papers on inflammation (q.v.) , the existence of which as a separate self-perpetuating process, outlasting its cause, he was the first to deny.

Tilden, Samuel Jones

(1814-86). An American lawyer and statesman, born at New Lebanon, N.Y. He attended Yale College and the University of the City of New York, where he graduated in 1837; studied law, and in 1841 was admitted to the bar of New York City. As a lawyer he rose to the first rank. In 1846 he was a member of the State Legislature, in which he devoted his attention particularly to the subject of the State canals, and in the same year served as a member of the State Constitutional Convention. In 1867 he again sat as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Having been elected again to a seat in the Legislature, he took the lead in 1872 in the impeachment proceedings against Barnard and Cardozo, two of Tweed's corrupt and subservient judges. He contributed to the exposure of the frauds of the Tweed Ring, and took the leading part in the prosecution of its guilty members. By 1868 he had become the acknowledged leader of the Democratic Party in New York, and his activity in overthrowing the Tweed Ring led to his election in 1874 as Governor of New York.

His administration (1875-76) was marked by economy in the management of the State canals. In June, 1876, he was nominated by the Democratic National Convention at Saint Louis for President of the United States, and in the ensuing Presidential election received a majority of the popular vote, and according to the final count came within one vote of receiving a majority of the electoral vote. Because of alleged frauds in the elections of Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, the votes of those States, which were nominally given for the Democratic Party and which would have turned the election in Tilden's favor, were claimed by the Republicans, and the excitement which followed threatened to disturb the peace of the country. Finally Congress created an Electoral Commission (q.v.) , consisting of five justices of the Supreme Court, five Senators, and five Representatives, to settle the dispute, and by a strict party vote of 8 to 7 it gave its decision in favor of Tilden's opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes (q.v.) .

Tilden thereupon promptly requested his friends to accept the decision with good grace, though many of his supporters continued to believe and to assert that he had rightfully been elected President. In 1880 and in 1884 the Democratic Party wished to nominate Tilden again for the Presidency, but each time he refused to be a candidate. He lived his remaining years in retirement near Yonkers, N.Y., dying on August 4, 1886. he bequeathed the greater portion of his fortune of about $5,000,000 to philanthropic purposes, chiefly for the establishment and endowment of a public library in the city of New York. The will was contested and only about $2,000,000 went to the establishment of the Tilden Foundation of the New York Public Library (q.v.). Tilden's biography was written by John Bigelow (New York, 1895), and his writings were edited by the same author (2 vols., 1885).

Tweed, William Marcy

(1823-78). A notorious American politician, leader of the so called "Tweed Ring," born in New York City. He was the son of a chair-maker, was prepared for the same occupation, receiving slight education, and early entered politics, becoming an alderman of New York City, and taking a seat in Congress in 1853. Subsequently he was a School Commissioner; became a member of the Board of Supervisors of New York County, and was president of the board for four successive terms. From 1867 to 1871 he was a State Senator. A member of the Tammany Society for many years, he was grand sachem in 1869-71. He was appointed Deputy Street Commissioner in 1861, and when in 1870 that department was changed to the Department of Public Works, he was the Commissioner at its head, a position which enabled him to initiate, as is generally believed, the formation of the combination known as the "Tammany Ring," or the "Tweed Ring.

"The ring," having placated the Mozart Hall faction of Fernando Wood (q.v.), elected its candidate for Mayor in 1865, and its candidate for Governor in 1868, and so controlled the Legislature as to secure such a modification of the City's charter as greatly to increase the power of the offices held by the "ring." Legislators and judges were bribed, and bills were passed and decisions rendered in favor of the members of the "ring." Gigantic schemes of city improvement were organized and carried out successfully, though accompanied generally with much peculation. Fraudulent bills were audited, and their sum divided among the thieves. Probably no other such complete plan of public spoliation was ever devised and executed in any country. The exposure of this vast system of peculation was made largely by the New York Times, through the intervention of a disappointed enemy of the "ring," in July, 1871 ; a vigorous investigation and prosecution was undertaken by a committee of seventy citizens, under the lead of Samuel J. Tilden (q.v.) ; and Tweed was indicted in 1872 for forgery and grand larceny. 

Two trials were held, and in 1873 Tweed was convicted, and sentenced to twelve years' confinement in the penitentiary, and to pay a fine of $12,300.18. He was confined on Blackwell's Island from November 1873, until June, 1875, when he was released by a decision of the Court of Appeals, on a legal technicality. He was immediately rearrested on a warrant issued in a civil suit for $6,198,957.85, and sent to Ludlow Street Jail. Being permitted to go out to drive with an officer, he made his escape, and fled to Spain. He was returned in November, 1876, and again incarcerated in Ludlow Street Jail until April 12, 1878, when he died. 

Vaux, Calvert

(1824-95) A British American architect and landscape gardener, born in London. In 1843-46 he was an indentured pupil of L.N. Cottingham, a prominent London architect, and in 1850 removed to the United States as assistant to A.J. Downing (q.v.), a well-known American landscape gardener. Subsequently he became Downing's architectural partner, with offices at Newburg, N.Y., upon Downing's death conducted the business there from 1852 to 1857, and then established himself in New York City, where he entered into partnership with Frederick Law Olmsted (q.v.) In association with Olmsted he made plans for Central , Riverside, Morningside parks, in New York City, for Prospect Park in Brooklyn, for parks at Bridgeport, Conn., and Chicago, Ill., and for the New York State reservation at Niagara Falls. He also designed numerous buildings, including the first structures for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, in New York City. He was appointed landscape architect to the Department of Parks of New York, and also a member of the consolidation inquiry commission for the Greater New York. It was largely owing to his efforts that the Central Park territory was preserved intact and developed in accordance with the original landscape designs. In his professional work he displayed an original artistic faculty, and as a municipal official he was very active. He published Villas and Cottages (1857; 2d ed. 1864).

Viele, Egbert Lucovickus

(1825-1902). An American soldier and civil engineer, born at Waterford, N.Y. He graduated at West Point in 1847; served under General Scott in Mexico; and became a first lieutenant in 1850, but resigned in 1853. From 1854 until 1857 he was topographical engineer of New Jersey; in 1857-58 he was chief engineer of Central Park, New York, and later became chief engineer of Prospect Park , Brooklyn. He reentered the army on the outbreak of the Civil War; became a brigadier-general of volunteers in August, 1861; commanded the land forces in the capture of Fort Pulaski; was engaged in the advance on Norfolk, Va., and was military governor of that place from August, 1862, until October, 1863, when he resigned from active service. In 1883 he became commissioner of parks for New York City, and in the following year was made president of the department. In the same year he was elected to Congress as
a Democrat, but two years later was defeated in a contest for reelection. He published; Handbook for Active Service (1861); Topographical Atlas of the City of New York (1865); and Report of the Board of Visitors to the United States Military Academy at West Point (1886).

Wanamaker, John

(1838---). An American merchant and Cabinet officer, born in Philadelphia, Pa. He received a common school education, and for a time was an errand boy. In 1856 he entered mercantile life in Philadelphia and gradually built up an enormous retail business. In 1896 he reopened the department store founded in New York by A.T. Stewart. He was president of the Young Men's Christian Association in Philadelphia from 1870 to 1883, was one of the founders of the Christian Commission at the time of the Civil War, and was the founder of Bethany Sunday-school, of which he was for many years the superintendent. From 1889 to 1893 he was Postmaster-General in President Harrison's Cabinet.

Whitney, William Collins

(1841-1904). An American politician and Cabinet officer, born in Conway, Mass., and educated at Yale and at Harvard. He settled in New York City, where he was admitted to the bar. In 1871 he was prominent in organizing the Young Men's Democratic Club, and was active in the movement against the "Tweed Ring." From 1875 to 1882 he was Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, and during his administration of the office the work of the city's Law department was completely reorganized and simplified in such a manner as to save thousands of dollars annually. He was active in 1882 in the State campaign which resulted in the election of Grover Cleveland as Governor, and from 1885 to 1889, during Cleveland's first administration as President, was Secretary of the Navy. Under his control considerable progress was made in building the "new navy". He afterwards engaged in extensive financial enterprises in New York, and in 1892 successfully managed the Cleveland Presidential campaign.

Williams, Jonathan

(1750-1815). An American soldier. He was born in Boston, entered business life, made several voyages to England and the West Indies, and was secretary to Franklin, his grand-uncle, when the latter was Ambassador to France. Here he made a careful study of military science, and, after serving as Judge of Common Pleas at Philadelphia, from 1785 to 1801, became a major in the artillery and engineer corps, and an inspector of fortifications. He was in command of the military post at West Point in 1801-02, and was superintendent of the United States Military Academy in 1802-03, giving instruction to the engineers and artillerists.

In June, 1803, owing to a dispute over a question of rank, he resigned from the army, but in 1805 reentered the service as lieutenant-colonel and chief engineer, and was reappointed superintendent at West Point. He also had charge of the fortifications in New York harbor, planning and building Fort Columbus, Castle Clinton (Castle Garden), and Castle Williams, the last being, at the time of its erection, the only casemated battery in the United States. He was the first to introduce in the United States principles of scientific military engineering, and has therefore been called the "Father of the Corps of Engineers." In 1812 he claimed command of Castle Williams, and, on refusal, resigned. In 1814 he was elected to Congress, but never took his seat. He wrote The Use of the Thermometer in Navigation (1799), and translated Elements of Fortification (1801) and Kosciusko's Maneuvers for Horse Artillery (1808).

Wood, Fernando

(18121-81). An American politician, born in Philadelphia, Pa., of Quaker parentage. He removed to New York in 1820, received a good education, and engaged in the shipping business, in which he was so successful that he retired with a large fortune in 1850. As a young man he took an active part in politics, and was widely known as a campaign speaker and writer. In 1840 He was elected to Congress and served one term. After his retirement from active business in 1850 he turned his attention to municipal politics, and within a few years his genius for political management and organization was made evident by his complete control of the Tammany Hall machine.

In that year (1850) he was the candidate of Tammany for Mayor, but was defeated by a combination of Whig and Know-Nothing votes. In 1854 he was again the Tammany candidate, and was elected, and was reelected in 1856, but internal strife in the Tammany organization forced him out of its membership, and he gathered his personal followers into a rival organization known as Mozart Hall. As the candidate of Mozart Hall he was defeated in 1858, but in 1860 was elected Mayor for a third term over both the Tammany and Republican candidates. During his last term in office he attracted wide criticism and ridicule by suggesting the secession of New York City at the outbreak of the Civil War and its establishment as a "free city." Subsequently he gave his support to the Administration's war policy. He was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1862, serving continuously until 1877, except for the years 1865-67, which he spent in Europe. He was one of the shrewdest and most ingenious of New York's political bosses.


Website: The History
Article Name: Brief Sketches on Important Men of New York City
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The New International Encyclopedia; Dodd, Mead and Company-New York 1902-1905, 21 Volumes
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