A Washington Dinner:
An Appreciation of William Walter Phelps (continued)

By Alex Phelps

William Walter Phelps's Washington, D. C. dinner

With his description of the Washington dinner, Herrick signals the high point of William Walter’s expectations for national office. His business interests divestiture make it clear that he was preparing himself for such. The presence of Senator Sherman at the dinner may have been pointed, given talk of a ticket by the pair. Though there were, again, calls for Blaine’s nomination, Blaine had settled for Harrison. Once victory was achieved, Harrison would have to repay Blaine, and that would put Blaine in a position to help his friend William Walter. In the event, poor relations between Blaine and Harrison blunted this initiative.

The following is excerpted from my family memoir Dear Gordon: Speaking of the Past, which provides a lengthier treatment of William Walter’s life.

“Shortly before Congress ended in March (1887), William Walter gave a dinner at Chamberlain's in Washington for his friend, the popular Representative Frank Hiscock of New York, another of Blaine's close confidants, who had just been elected to the Senate. So as to avoid giving offense in a crowd of such varied views, William Walter diplomatically had his guests seated at a circular table, he furthest away from the door, his guest of honor opposite. To his right sat Sir Lionel Sackville-West, British Minister to Washington, Colonel Henry Watterson - known as ‘Marse Henry’ - Democrat and editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Senator Thomas C. Platt, a Republican senator from New York and boss of the state party machine, Senator William M. Evarts, statesman and Republican Senator from New York, William R. Morrison, a Democrat from Illinois and a trenchant advocate of a low tariff, Senator Sewell, a New Jersey Republican, the Hon. Levi P. Morton, a Republican and New York banker who would be Benjamin Harrison's vice-president and Minister to France, Murat Halstead, Republican and editor of the Cincinnati Commercial, Chauncey M. Depew, Republican Senator from New York and president of the New York Central Railroad, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, a Mississippi Democrat with wide railroad interests, then Interior Secretary in Cleveland's administration, he would later be a Supreme Court Justice.

“To the host's left were John G. Carlisle, a Kentucky Democrat and House Speaker, Whitelaw Reid, a Republican and editor and publisher of the New York Herald Tribune and later Minister to France and England, Samuel J. Randall, a Pennsylvania Democrat, Justice Samuel Blatchford, who had worked in the US District Attorney's office, General Philip Sheridan, the celebrated Union soldier, Major William McKinley, a Republican congressman, future Governor of Ohio and the twenty-fifth President, William Waldorf Astor, a New York legislator and Minister to Italy, Thomas B. Reed, a Republican representative from Maine who would be Speaker of the House, William C. Whitney, a Democrat and New York financier, then Navy Secretary, and John Sherman, the Republican Representative from Ohio and Treasury Secretary in Hayes' Administration.

“Amongst the groups' individual differences were Watterson's known anti-British aristocracy views - he was seated next to Sir Lionel - in addition to his similarly stinging editorializing on Sam Randall, who was one of a small number of Democrats who supported the tariff; William Morrison had forcefully spoken against the new tariff bill, of which many present were in favor; Tom Reed had filibustered successfully against Navy Secretary Whitney's plan for reorganizing the navy; while, there were many in the room who were critical of Lucius Lamar's performance as Interior Secretary. Whatever their views, these were all men joined in the seat of power.

“The mustachioed William Walter, with his unabashed profile, was to all appearances a typical member of the East coast establishment - and appearances mattered greatly between the coasts. At the age of thirty-four, he was noted by a contemporary journalist as standing five feet nine and a half inches, weighing170 pounds, and walking with ‘a live, springy step.’ His manner was described as ‘simple, gracious and winning.’ In his twenty-five dollar suits, customarily sporting a red necktie, as the newspaperman Frank G. Carpenter observed, William Walter Phelps was a familiar figure about the streets of the capital. His probity and influence were noted by the historian Henry Adams, who wrote to John Hay in 1884 deploring the rottenness of banking and politics, referring in particular to the troubles of the Second National Bank and William Walter's support for Blaine, ‘The only wise man is Willy Wally, and wisdom has cost him $250,000 for the reformer Eno, besides whatever the Blaine campaign thus far has come to. W. W. P. is to be our next Secretary of State…….’ In this prediction he was wrong. In another letter, written to Ann Cabot Mills Lodge in 1890 from Samoa, including remarks disparaging of the inhabitants for which he begged her discretion, Adams referred to William Walter's voice, which, though soft, carried much weight, ‘………..a whisper (in the gossipy atmosphere of Samoa) echoes like W. W. Phelps's voice…..’

“In addition to the distinctive timbre of his voice and cross-eyed appearance, an uncomplimentary aspect which appears to have been overlooked by the press, vanity provoked William Walter to part his hair in the middle and comb it forward in a bang to hide advancing baldness, an affect with which he came to be associated as Winston Churchill would be with his cigar or Chaplin with his cane. These characteristics suggested effeteness to the Western temper and, when Blaine urged a Presidential ticket of Benjamin Harrison and Phelps to avoid his own nomination in the 1888 convention, the West coast delegates would have none of it. Ironically, the successful vice-presidential nominee was Levi P. Morton, from New York, who, newspaperman Henry L. Stoddard wrote, was ‘literally hairless - no eyebrows and a head as bald as a billiard ball.’”

Biographical data and notes for William Walter Phelps and his Washington, D. C. dinner Guests

PHELPS, William Walter, (1839-1894) , a Representative from New Jersey; born in New York City August 24, 1839; attended private schools near Bridgeport, Conn., and Mount Washington Institute, New York; was graduated from Yale College in 1860 and from the law department of Columbia College, New York City, in 1863; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in New York City; retired from the practice of law in 1868; engaged in banking in New York City, with residence in Englewood, N.J.; also served as a director of numerous railroads; elected to the Forty-third Congress (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1875); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1874 to the Forty-fourth Congress; delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1880 and 1884; Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria in 1881; relinquished the position in 1882; elected as a Republican to the Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, and Fiftieth Congresses (March 4, 1883-March 3, 1889); declined to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1888; appointed by President Harrison one of the commissioners to represent the United States at the International Congress on the Samoan Question, which met in Berlin in 1889; appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Germany in 1889 and served until 1893; appointed a special judge of the court of errors and appeals of the State of New Jersey in 1893; died in Englewood, Bergen County, N.J., June 17, 1894; interment in the City Cemetery, Simsbury, Conn.

Seated to William Walter’s right in order –

SACKVILLE, Lionel Sackville-West, 2d Baron, ( 1827– 1908), British diplomat. He served in numerous diplomatic posts before being appointed (1881) ambassador to the United States. He helped to settle (1887–88) the quarrel between the United States and Canada over fishing rights in the North Atlantic. In 1888 he was tricked, by a letter falsely purporting to come from a nonpolitical source, into making a statement implying that the reelection of Grover Cleveland would be to the British interest. His reply was publicized to further the Republican campaign for Benjamin Harrison. He was recalled (1888) to London upon President Cleveland's demand. He succeeded to his brother's title in 1888 and retired the following year.

Comment: His illegitimate daughter, Victoria Josepha Dolores Catalina, was the mother of Vita Sackville-West, the poet, novelist and friend of Virginia Woolf.

WATTERSON, Henry, (1840-1921) (son of Harvey Magee Watterson and nephew of Stanley Matthews), a Representative from Kentucky; born in Washington, D.C., February 16, 1840; completed preparatory studies under private tutors; attended the Academy of the Diocese of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa.; engaged in newspaper work as correspondent and editorial writer; his first newspaper employment was on the Washington States, a Democratic paper, 1858-1861; became editor of the Republican Banner in Nashville, Tenn., in 1861; during the Civil War entered the Confederate service; aide to Gen. N.B. Forrest; was on the staff of Gen. Leonidas Polk; chief of scouts in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army; edited the Chattanooga Rebel in 1862 and 1863; resumed newspaper pursuits in Nashville after the war; moved to Louisville, Ky., in 1867 and purchased the Louisville Journal, consolidated it with the Courier, and served as editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal for fifty years; temporary chairman of the Democratic National Convention in 1876; elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Edward Y. Parsons and served from August 12, 1876, to March 3, 1877; declined to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1876; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1880, 1884, 1888, and 1892; died in Jacksonville, Fla., December 22, 1921; interment in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Ky.

PLATT , Thomas Collier, (1833-1910), a Representative and a Senator from New York; born in Owego, Tioga County, N.Y., July 15, 1833; was prepared for college in the Owego Academy and attended Yale College in 1849 and 1850; in 1852 engaged in business as a druggist and continued for twenty years; president of the Tioga National Bank; interested in the lumbering business in Michigan; clerk of Tioga County 1859-1861; elected as a Republican to the Forty-third and Forty-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1877); elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1881, and served from March 4, 1881, to May 16, 1881, when he resigned because of a disagreement with President James Garfield over federal appointments in New York; unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate to succeed himself; chairman, Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-seventh Congress); secretary and director of the United States Express Co. in 1879 and elected president of the company in 1880; member and president of the Board of Quarantine Commissioners of New York 1880-1888; member of the Republican National Committee; elected to the United States Senate in 1896; reelected in 1903 and served from March 4, 1897, to March 3, 1909; not a candidate for reelection; chairman, Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard (Fifty-fifth Congress), Committee on Printing (Fifty-sixth through Sixtieth Congresses), Committee on Cuban Relations (Fifty-ninth Congress), Committee on Interoceanic Canals (Fifty-ninth Congress); died in New York City, March 6, 1910; interment in Owego Cemetery, Owego, N.Y.

Comment: A lieutenant of Roscoe Conkling, NY Republican party boss, he was known as “The Easy Boss” and “The Machiavelli of Tioga County.”

EVARTS, William Maxwell, (1818-1901) , (grandson of Roger Sherman), a Senator from New York; born in Boston, Mass., February 6, 1818; attended the Boston Latin School and graduated from Yale College in 1837; studied at Harvard Law School; was admitted to the bar in New York City in 1841 and practiced law; assistant United States district attorney 1849-1853; unsuccessful Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1861; member of the State constitutional convention 1867-1868; appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Andrew Johnson 1868-1869; chief counsel for President Johnson in the impeachment proceedings in 1868; counsel for the United States before the tribunal of arbitration on the Alabama claims at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1872; counsel for President Rutherford Hayes, in behalf of the Republican Party, before the Electoral Commission in 1876; appointed Secretary of State of the United States by President Hayes 1877-1881; delegate to the International Monetary Conference at Paris 1881; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1885, to March 3, 1891; chairman, Committee on the Library (Fiftieth and Fifty-first Congresses); retired from public life due to ill health; died in New York City, February 28, 1901; interment in Ascutney Cemetery, Windsor, Vt.

MORRISON, William Ralls, (1824-1909) , a Representative from Illinois; born on a farm at Prairie du Long, near the present town of Waterloo, Monroe County, Ill., September 14, 1824; attended the common schools and McKendree College, Lebanon, Ill.; served in the war with Mexico; went to California with the gold seekers in 1849, but returned to Illinois in 1851; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1855 and commenced practice in Waterloo, Ill.; clerk of the circuit court of Monroe County, Ill., 1852-1854; member of the State house of representatives 1854-1860, 1870, and 1871, and served as speaker in 1859 and 1860; organized and was colonel of the Forty-ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, during the Civil War; while in command of his regiment in the field was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-eighth Congress (March 4, 1863-March 3, 1865); unsuccessful candidate in 1864 for reelection to the Thirty-ninth Congress and in 1866 for election to the Fortieth Congress; continued the practice of law in Waterloo, Ill.; elected to the Forty-third and to the six succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1887); chairman, Committee on Ways and Means (Forty-fourth, Forty-eighth, and Forty-ninth Congresses), Committee on Public Lands (Forty-fifth Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury (Forty-sixth Congress); unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 1885; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1886 to the Fiftieth Congress; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1856, 1868, 1884, and 1888; also a delegate to the Union National Convention at Philadelphia in 1866; appointed in 1887 by President Cleveland a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission; reappointed by President Harrison on January 5, 1892, and served from March 22, 1887, to December 31, 1897; was chairman of the commission from March 19, 1892, to the end of his term; resumed the practice of law in Waterloo, Monroe County, Ill., and died there September 29, 1909; interment in Waterloo Cemetery.

SEWELL, William Joyce, (1835-1909) , a Senator from New Jersey; born in Castlebar, Ireland, December 6, 1835; immigrated to the United States in 1851; engaged in mercantile pursuits in Chicago, Ill.; moved to Camden, N.J., in 1860; during the Civil War, served with the New Jersey Volunteers, beginning as a captain in 1861; brevetted brigadier general and major general in 1865; awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1896, ‘for having assumed command of a brigade at Chancellorsville, Va., May 3, 1863’; after the war became connected with railroads in New Jersey; member, State senate 1872-1881, serving as president in 1876, 1879-1880; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1881, to March 3, 1887; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1887, and for election to the United States Senate in 1889 and 1893; chairman, Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth Congresses), Committee on Military Affairs (Forty-ninth Congress), Committee on the Library (Forty-ninth Congress); one of the national commissioners for New Jersey to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; was in command of the Second Brigade of the National Guard of New Jersey; appointed a member of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers; again elected to the United States Senate in 1895; reelected in 1901, and served from March 4, 1895, until his death in Camden, N.J., December 27, 1901; chairman, Committee on Enrolled Bills (Fifty-fourth through Fifty-seventh Congresses); interment in Harleigh Cemetery.

Comment: With his railroad interests he represented a powerful figure in NJ.

MORTON, Levi Parsons, (1824-1920) , a Representative from New York and a Vice President of the United States; born in Shoreham, Addison County, Vt., May 16, 1824; attended the public schools and Shoreham Academy; clerk in a general store in Enfield, Mass., 1838-1840; taught school in Boscawen, N.H., in 1840 and 1841; engaged in mercantile pursuits in Hanover, N.H., in 1845; moved to Boston in 1850; entered the dry-goods business in New York City in 1854; engaged in banking in New York City in 1863; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1876 to the Forty-fifth Congress; was appointed by President Rutherford Hayes honorary commissioner to the Paris Exhibition of 1878; elected as a Republican to the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Congresses and served from March 4, 1879, until his resignation, effective March 21, 1881; United States Minister to France 1881-1885; elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket with Benjamin Harrison and served from March 4, 1889, to March 3, 1893; Governor of New York 1895-1897; was an investor in real estate; died in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, N.Y., on May 16, 1920; interment in the Rhinebeck Cemetery.

Comment: He replaced William Walter Phelps on the Republican nominating ballot as vice-president with Benjamin Harrison, in large part because of his ability to bring the New York delegation.

HALSTEAD, Murat, (1829-1908), journalist, born in Paddy's Run, Butler County, Ohio, 2 September, 1829. He spent the summers on his father's farm and the winters in school until he was nineteen years old, and, after teaching for a few months, entered Farmer's college, near Cincinnati, where he was graduated in 1851. He had already contributed to the press, and after leaving college became connected with the Cincinnati "Atlas," and then with the "Enquirer." He afterward established a Sunday newspaper in that city, and in 1852-'3 worked on the "Columbian and Great West," a weekly. He began work on the "Commercial" on 8 March, 1853, as a local reporter, and soon became news editor. In 1854 the "Commercial" was reorganized, and Halstead purchased an interest in the paper, in 1867 its control passed into his hands. After pursuing for a time a course of independent journalism, he allied himself with the Republican party, which he has since supported. The Cincinnati "Gazette" was consolidated with his paper in 1883, and he became president of the company that publishes the combined journal under the name of the "Commercial Gazette."

Comment: The following demonstrates the process whereby William Walter Phelps was confirmed as Minister to Germany in place of Halstead. Note also Watterson’s role. Henry B. Payne was an associate of J. D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil). In marrying Payne’s daughter, William Whitney launched himself on a powerful career.

The Halstead Affair

Other nominations were contentious for similar reasons. The Senate's implacable hostility to the president's ideas on the civil service affected those close to Harrison, and this was never more apparent than when Harrison selected Murat Halstead to become minister plenipotentiary to Germany. Halstead was the editor of Cincinnati's Commercial Gazette, the city's major Republican newspaper, and Harrison considered him a particularly close friend and loyal supporter. There were also more concrete policy objectives at work for the president. German Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck had wanted to make the Samoan Islands, in which the United States had commercial interests, into a protectorate, and a threat of war was in the air as a conference on the matter was set to begin in Berlin on 29 April. Harrison wanted "a strong and implacable fighter" for American interests in Germany, and he thought Halstead to be that man. Unfortunately for the President, the Senate thought differently. Differences on policy matters were not the problem with Halstead, however.

Halstead had been a vocal critic of corruption in politics, especially in the case of Ohio Senator Henry B. Payne. The legislature had sent Payne to the Senate several years earlier, and a subsequent investigation revealed that Standard Oil had bribed a number of legislators to secure Payne's Senate seat. A new legislature in Columbus sent evidence from this investigation to Washington in hopes of starting a full inquiry and eventually unseating Payne. Senatorial courtesy and matters of honor dictated that Payne should welcome such an inquiry, but he did not, and the Senate refused to investigate. Halstead's Commercial Gazette had been a vocal critic of the Senate in the Payne affair, and many senators remembered his barbs. They took this opportunity to send a message to Halstead (and the president) by rejecting the editor for the ministry to Germany.

The Senate's action in this case touched off a firestorm of criticism in the press, as editors stood up for their rejected colleague. Democrat Henry Watterson of Louisville's Courier-Journal supported his Republican counterpart, stating that the fate of the Halstead appointment "carries with it primarily a warning from the Senate to the press of the country to look to its utterances when dealing with that body or any of its members." Senator John C. Spooner of Wisconsin, who had supported Halstead, made a similar point in his speeches on the Senate floor. Had Harrison wanted to appoint Halstead to the post in Germany without the Senate's approval, he could have done so. Public sentiment was with the president. However, as much as the rejection hurt the President personally, he dropped the Halstead matter. For one, he knew that Halstead was an excitable man whose presence in Berlin might not help the already tense situation between the two countries. More importantly, however, "he preferred to hold to the rule that Executive appointments be made by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, which was responsible for judging a nominee's competency, fitness, and character." Harrison strongly supported the limited, conservative presidency of the Founders, and he quietly appointed former Representative William Walter Phelps to the German ministry after Phelps helped the United States score a major victory for American interests at the Berlin conference on Samoa. (HarpWeek)

DEPEW, Chauncey Mitchell, (1834-1928) , a Senator from New York; born in Peekskill, N.Y., April 23, 1834; attended private schools; was graduated from the Peekskill Military Academy in 1852 and from Yale College in 1856; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1858 and commenced practice at Peekskill, N.Y., in 1859; member, State assembly 1861-1862; secretary of State of New York 1863; appointed United States Minister to Japan by President Andrew Johnson, was confirmed by the Senate, but declined; unsuccessful candidate for election as lieutenant governor in 1872; colonel and judge advocate of the fifth division of the New York National Guard 1873-1881; unsuccessful Republican candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1881; appointed president of the New York Central Hudson River Railroad Co. 1885-1899, and later became chairman of the board of directors of that railroad system; unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1888; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1899; reelected in 1905 and served from March 4, 1899, to March 3, 1911; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1910; chairman, Committee on Revision of the Laws of the United States (Fifty-seventh through Sixtieth Congresses), Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico (Sixty-first Congress); resumed his legal and corporate business pursuits in New York City, where he died on April 5, 1928; interment in Hillside Cemetery, Peekskill, N.Y.

LAMAR, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, (1825-1893) , (uncle of William Bailey Lamar and cousin of Absalom Harris Chappell), a Representative and a Senator from Mississippi; born near Eatonton, Putnam County, Ga., September 17, 1825; attended schools in Baldwin and Newton Counties; graduated from Emory College, Oxford, Ga., in 1845; studied law in Macon; was admitted to the bar in 1847; moved to Oxford, Miss., in 1849, where he practiced law and served one year as professor of mathematics in the University of Mississippi at Oxford; moved to Covington, Ga., in 1852 and practiced law; member, Georgia State house of representatives 1853; returned to Mississippi in 1855; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Congresses and served from March 4, 1857, until his retirement in December 1860 to become a member of the secession convention of Mississippi; drafted the Mississippi ordinance of secession; during the Civil War served in the Confederate Army as lieutenant colonel until 1862; entered the diplomatic service of the Confederacy in 1862 and was sent on a special mission to Russia, France, and England; member of the State constitutional conventions in 1865, 1868, 1875, 1877, and 1881; professor of metaphysics, social science, and law at the University of Mississippi; elected to the Forty-third and Forty-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1877); did not seek re-nomination in 1876, having been elected Senator; chairman, Committee on Pacific Railroads (Forty-fourth Congress); elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1876; reelected in 1883 and served from March 4, 1877, until March 6, 1885, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet post; chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs (Forty-sixth Congress), Committee on Railroads (Forty-sixth Congress); Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Grover Cleveland 1885-1888; appointed by President Cleveland to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and was confirmed January 16, 1888; served until his death in Vineville, Ga., January 23, 1893; interment in Riverside Cemetery, Macon, Ga.; re-interment in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Oxford, Miss., in 1894.

Seated to William Walter’s left in order -

CARLISLE, John Griffin, (1835-1910) , a Representative and a Senator from Kentucky; born in Campbell (now Kenton) County, Ky., September 5, 1834; attended the common schools; taught school in Covington and elsewhere for five years; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1858 and commenced practice in Covington, Ky.; member, State house of representatives 1859-1861; member, State senate 1866-1871; lieutenant governor of Kentucky 1871-1875; editor of the Louisville Daily Ledger in 1872; elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fifth and to the six succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1877, to May 26, 1890, when he resigned, having been elected Senator; Speaker of the House of Representatives (Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, and Fiftieth Congresses); chairman, Committee on Rules (Forty-eighth through Fiftieth Congresses); elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of James B. Beck and served from May 26, 1890, until February 4, 1893, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet portfolio; Secretary of the Treasury in the Cabinet of President Grover Cleveland 1893-1897; moved to New York City and resumed the practice of law; died in New York City July 31 1910; interment in Linden Grove Cemetery, Covington, Ky.

REID, Whitelaw, (1837-1912). Born in Cedarville, Greene County, Ohio, October 27, 1837. Republican. U.S. Minister to France, 1889-92; candidate for Vice President of the United States, 1892; U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, 1905-12, died in office 1912. Editor of New YorkTribune. Died in London, England, December 15, 1912. Interment at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

Comment: A very close friend of William Walter.

RANDALL, Samuel Jackson, (1828-1890) , a Representative from Pennsylvania; born in Philadelphia, Pa., October 10, 1828; attended the common schools and the University Academy in Philadelphia; engaged in mercantile pursuits; member of the common council of Philadelphia 1852-1855; member of the State senate in 1858 and 1859; served as a member of the First Troop of Philadelphia in 1861 and was in the Union Army three months of that year and again as captain in 1863; was promoted to provost marshal at Gettysburg; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-eighth and to the thirteen succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1863, until his death; chairman, Committee on Appropriations (Forty-fourth, Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, and Fiftieth Congresses), Committee on Public Expenditures (Forty-seventh Congress); Speaker of the House of Representatives (Forty-fourth through Forty-sixth Congresses); died in Washington, D.C., April 13, 1890; interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pa.

BLATCHFORD, Samuel M., (1820-1893). Born in New York, New York County, N.Y., March 9, 1820. Lawyer; Judge of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1867-78; Judge of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, 1878-82; Justice of U.S. Supreme Court, 1882-93; died in office 1893. Episcopalian. Member, Freemasons. Died in Newport, Newport Cunty, R.I., July 7, 1893. Interment at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y. See also: federal judicial profile.

SHERIDAN, Philip, (1831-1888), of New York. Graduated West Point 1853. Assigned as a 2nd Lt. to Ist Infantry at Fort Duncan, Tx. In 1855 transferred to 4 th Infantry in the Pacific Northwest. In April, 1856, assigned to duty at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in Yamhill County, Or., and promoted to Ist Lt. April 4, 1861, following start of the Civil War, promoted to Captain. Called east to St. Louis in September for supply duty under Gen Halleck. Reassigned to Gen. Curtis. Given command of the nd Michigan Cavalry and was promoted to Colonel, May 25, 1862. Superior tactics while outnumbered in successful confrontation with Confederates under Gen. Chalmers at Booneville, Miss., caused him to be commissioned Brig. General. Attached to Gen. Rosecrans at Murfreesboro on Stones River south of Nashville, Tenn., he played a crucial role in saving the general’s army in confrontation with the Confederate Gen. Bragg. April, 1863, promoted to Major General. Fought with Gens. Grant and Sherman at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tenn. When Gen. Grant was appointed General-in-Chief of the Union Armies, Sheridan joined him and was appointed Chief of Cavalry, Army of the Potomac. In the Shenandoah Valley he contested Confederate Gen. Early, defeated and killed Gen. J. E. B. Stuart (famous southern cavalry leader), and drove Early out of the valley at Cedar Creek. Engaged in forcing Gen. Lee out defenses at Petersburg, Va., and cut off his retreat at Appomattox Court House. Following the end of the war sent to Texas to maintain peace with Mexico. Served a controversial posting in New Orleans as head of Reconstruction. Relieved and ordered to take command of the Department of the Missouri in Sept. 1867. Charged with subduing Indians and placing them on reservations. In 1869, appointed Lieutenant-General under Gen. Sherman, who had become General of the Army following Grant’s accession to the presidency. Headquarters in Chicago. Traveled throughout the West and instrumental in having Yellowstone declared a national park. Served as an observer with Prussia in the French and Prussian War, 1870. Administrative duties connected with the Great Chicago Fire of October 7-8, 1871. When Gen. Sherman retired in 1883, he succeeded him as General of the Army, though still with the rank of Lieutenant-General. Awarded his fourth star by President Cleveland when Congress revived the grade of full General in 1888. The fourth so honored in U. S. history; the others being Washington, Grant and Sherman. Died August 5, 1888, at Nonquit, Mass. Interment at Arlington National Cemetery, August 11, 1888.

McKINLEY, William, (1843-1901), a Representative from Ohio and 25th President of the United States; born in Niles, Ohio, January 29, 1843; attended the public schools, Poland Academy, and Allegheny College; teacher; Union Army, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865; lawyer, private practice; prosecuting attorney of Stark County, Ohio, 1869-1871; elected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth and to the two succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1877-March 3, 1883); chair, Committee on Revision of the Laws (Forty-seventh Congress); presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-eighth Congress and served from March 4, 1883, until May 27, 1884, when he was succeeded by Jonathan H. Wallace, who successfully contested his election; again elected to the Forty-ninth and to the two succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1885-March 3, 1891); chair, Committee on Ways and Means (Fifty-first Congress); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress; delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1884, 1888, and 1892; Governor of Ohio, 1891-1896; President of the United States, 1897-1901; shot by an assassin in Buffalo, N.Y., on September 6, 1901; died in Buffalo, N.Y., on September 14, 1901; interment in the McKinley Monument (adjacent to West Lawn Cemetery), Canton, Ohio.

Comment: Known as the “Idol of Ohio.”

ASTOR, William Waldorf, (1848-1919), of New York, New York County, N.Y. Born in New York, March 31, 1848. Member of New York state assembly, 1878-79; member of New York state senate 10th District, 1880-81; U.S. Minister to Italy, 1882-85. Heir to Astor family fortune of about $100 million; moved to England in 1890 and became a British subject. Died October 18, 1919. Burial location unknown

Comment: The Waldorf Hotel.

REED, Thomas Brackett, (1839-1902) , a Representative from Maine; born in Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, October 18, 1839; attended the public schools; was graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, in 1860; studied law; acting assistant paymaster, United States Navy, from April 19, 1864, to November 4, 1865; was admitted to the bar in 1865 and commenced practice in Portland, Maine; member of the State house of representatives in 1868 and 1869; served in the State senate in 1870; attorney general of Maine 1870-1872; city solicitor of Portland 1874-1877; elected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth and to the eleven succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1877, to September 4, 1899, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Forty-seventh Congress), Committee on Rules (Fifty-first, Fifty-fourth, and Fifty-fifth Congresses); Speaker of the House of Representatives (Fifty-first, Fifty-fourth, and Fifty-fifth Congresses); moved to New York City and engaged in the practice of his profession; died in Washington, D.C., on December 7, 1902; interment in Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine.

WHITNEY, William Collins, (1841-1902), of New York, New York County, N.Y. Grandfather of John Hay Whitney. Born in Conway, Franklin County, Mass., July 5, 1841. Democrat. Lawyer; delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1876; U.S. Secretary of the Navy, 1885-89; established the Naval War College, in Newport, R.I.; delegate to New York state constitutional convention 7th District, 1894. Died, following appendicitis surgery, in New York, New York County, N.Y., February 2, 1902. Interment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, N.Y.

SHERMAN, John, (1823-1900) , a Representative and a Senator from Ohio; born in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio, on May 10, 1823; attended the common schools and an academy in Ohio; left school to work as an engineer on canal projects; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1844 and began practice in Mansfield, Ohio; moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1853; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-fourth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1855, to March 21, 1861, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Ways and Means (Thirty-sixth Congress); elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1861 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Salmon P. Chase; reelected in 1866 and 1872 and served from March 21, 1861, until his resignation on March 8, 1877; chairman, Committee on Agriculture (1863-67), Committee on Finance (1863-65, 1867-77); appointed Secretary of the Treasury in the Cabinet of President Rutherford Hayes in March 1877, and served until March 1881; again elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1881 in the place of James A. Garfield, who had been elected President of the United States; reelected in 1886 and 1892 and served from March 4, 1881, until his resignation on March 4, 1897; Republican Conference chairman (1884-1885, 1891-1897); President pro tempore (1885-1887); chairman, Committee on the Library (1881-87), Committee on Foreign Relations (1885-93, 1895-97); appointed Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President William McKinley and served from March 1897, until his resignation in April 1898; retired to private life; died in Washington, D.C., October 22, 1900; interment in Mansfield Cemetery, Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio.

Comment: Brother of the Union general William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 1890. This act sought to curb the business excesses of the era, but was largely ineffective.

Seated opposite William Walter, the guest of honor –

HISCOCK, Frank, (1834-1914) , a Representative and a Senator from New York; born in Pompey, Onondaga County, N.Y., September 6, 1834; graduated from Pompey Academy; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1855 and commenced practice in Tully, Onondaga County; district attorney of Onondaga County 1860-1863; member of the State constitutional convention in 1867; elected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth and to the five succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1877, until his resignation on March 3, 1887, at the close of the Forty-ninth Congress, having been elected Senator; chairman, Committee on Appropriations (Forty-seventh Congress); elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1893; unsuccessful candidate for reelection; chairman, Committee on Organization, Conduct, and Expenditures of Executive Departments (Fifty-first and Fifty-second Congresses); resumed the practice of law in Syracuse, N.Y.; died in Syracuse, N.Y., June 18, 1914; interment in Oakwood Cemetery.

Not present but a public figure of the age, a friend and principal political inspiration for William Walter -

BLAINE, James Gillespie, (1830-1893) , a Representative and a Senator from Maine; born in West Brownsville, Washington County, Pa., January 31, 1830; was graduated from Washington College, Washington, Pa., in 1847; taught at the Western Military Institute, Blue Lick Springs, Ky.; returned to Pennsylvania; studied law; taught at the Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind in Philadelphia 1852-1854; moved in 1854 to Maine, where he edited the Portland Advertiser and the Kennebec Journal; member, State house of representatives 1859-1862, serving the last two years as speaker; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth and to the six succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1863, to July 10, 1876, when he resigned; Speaker of the House of Representatives (Forty-first through Forty-third Congresses); chairman, Committee on Rules (Forty-third through Forty-fifth Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for nomination for President on the Republican ticket in 1876 and 1880; appointed and subsequently elected as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Lot M. Morrill; reelected and served from July 10, 1876, to March 5, 1881, when he resigned to become Secretary of State; chairman, Committee on Civil Service and Retrenchment (Forty-fifth Congress), Committee on Rules (Forty-fifth Congress); Secretary of State in the Cabinets of Presidents James Garfield and Chester Arthur from March 5 to December 12, 1881; unsuccessful Republican candidate for President of the United States in 1884; Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Benjamin Harrison 1889-1892, when he resigned; aided in organizing and was the first president of the Pan American Congress; died in Washington, D.C., January 27, 1893; interment in Oak Hill Cemetery; re-interment at the request of the State of Maine in the Blaine Memorial Park, Augusta, Maine, in June 1920.

Comment: Known as “The Plumed Knight,” “Belshazzar Blaine” and “Magnetic Man,” his charismatic personality was a continuing focus of many in the Republican party following the Civil War until his death. Like James Garfield (Credit Mobilier), the assassinated president and also a close friend of William Walter Phelps, his reputation was tainted with allegations of taking railroad money while in the House (the Mulligan Letters), and this was perhaps the principal reason he never attained the presidency.

These political profiles are taken from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress and the Political Graveyard (both online).

© Alex Phelps, 2006