Saturday, October 22, 2016

John Hancock

John Hancock (January 23, 1737 [O.S. January 12, 1736] – October 8, 1793) was an American merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become, in the United States, a synonym for a signature.

Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable mercantile business from his uncle. Hancock began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men later became estranged. As tensions between colonists and Great Britain increased in the 1760s, Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Although the charges against Hancock were eventually dropped, he has often been described as a smuggler in historical accounts, but the accuracy of this characterization has been questioned.

Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and as president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and was elected governor of the Commonwealth, serving in that role for most of his remaining years. He used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.

According to the Gregorian calendar, John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737; according to the Julian calendar then in use, the date was January 12, 1736. He was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in a part of town that eventually became the separate city of Quincy. He was the son of the Reverend John Hancock of Braintree and Mary Hawke Thaxter (widow of Samuel Thaxter Junior), who was from nearby Hingham. As a child, Hancock became a casual acquaintance of young John Adams, whom the Reverend Hancock had baptized in 1735. The Hancocks lived a comfortable life, and owned one slave to help with household work.

After Hancock's father died in 1744, John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock. Thomas Hancock was the proprietor of a firm known as the House of Hancock, which imported manufactured goods from Britain and exported rum, whale oil, and fish. Thomas Hancock's highly successful business made him one of Boston's richest and best-known residents. He and Lydia, along with several servants and slaves, lived in Hancock Manor on Beacon Hill. The couple, who did not have any children of their own, became the dominant influence on John's life.

After graduating from the Boston Latin School in 1750, Hancock enrolled in Harvard College and received a bachelor's degree in 1754. Upon graduation, he began to work for his uncle, just as the French and Indian War (1754–1763) had begun. Thomas Hancock had close relations with the royal governors of Massachusetts and secured profitable government contracts during the war. John Hancock learned much about his uncle's business during these years and was trained for eventual partnership in the firm. Hancock worked hard, but he also enjoyed playing the role of a wealthy aristocrat and developed a fondness for expensive clothes.

From 1760 to 1761, Hancock lived in England while building relationships with customers and suppliers. Upon returning to Boston, Hancock gradually took over the House of Hancock as his uncle's health failed, becoming a full partner in January 1763. He became a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew in October 1762, which connected him with many of Boston's most influential citizens. When Thomas Hancock died in August 1764, John inherited the business, Hancock Manor, two or three household slaves, and thousands of acres of land, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. The household slaves continued to work for John and his aunt, but were eventually freed through the terms of Thomas Hancock's will; there is no evidence that John Hancock ever bought or sold slaves.

After its victory in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), the British Empire was deep in debt. Looking for new sources of revenue, the British Parliament sought, for the first time, to directly tax the colonies, beginning with the Sugar Act of 1764. The earlier Molasses Act of 1733, a tax on shipments from the West Indies, had produced hardly any revenue because it was widely bypassed by smuggling, which was seen as a victimless crime.

Not only was there little social stigma attached to smuggling in the colonies, but in port cities, where trade was the primary generator of wealth, smuggling enjoyed considerable community support, and it was even possible to obtain insurance against being caught. Colonial merchants developed an impressive repertoire of evasive maneuvers to conceal the origin, nationality, routes and content of their illicit cargoes. This included the frequent use of fraudulent paperwork to make the cargo appear legal and authorised. And much to the frustration of the British authorities, when seizures did happen local merchants were often able to use sympathetic provincial courts to reclaim confiscated goods and have their cases dismissed. For instance, Edward Randolph, the appointed head of customs in New England brought 36 seizures to trial from 1680 to the end of 1682 – and all but two of these were acquitted. Alternatively merchants sometimes took matters into their own hands and stole illicit goods back while impounded.

The Sugar Act provoked outrage in Boston, where it was widely viewed as a violation of colonial rights. Men such as James Otis and Samuel Adams argued that because the colonists were not represented in Parliament, they could not be taxed by that body; only the colonial assemblies, where the colonists were represented, could levy taxes upon the colonies. Hancock was not yet a political activist; however, he criticized the tax for economic, rather than constitutional, reasons.

Hancock emerged as a leading political figure in Boston just as tensions with Great Britain were increasing. In March 1765, he was elected as one of Boston's five selectmen, an office previously held by his uncle for many years. Soon after, Parliament passed the 1765 Stamp Act, a tax on legal documents, such as wills, that had been levied in Britain for many years but which was wildly unpopular in the colonies, producing riots and organized resistance. Hancock initially took a moderate position: as a loyal British subject, he thought that the colonists should submit to the act, even though he believed that Parliament was misguided. Within a few months, Hancock had changed his mind, although he continued to disapprove of violence and the intimidation of royal officials by mobs. Hancock joined the resistance to the Stamp Act by participating in a boycott of British goods, which made him popular in Boston. After Bostonians learned of the impending repeal of the Stamp Act, Hancock was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in May 1766.

Hancock's political success benefited from the support of Samuel Adams, the clerk of the House of Representatives and a leader of Boston's "popular party", also known as "Whigs" and later as "Patriots". The two men made an unlikely pair. Fifteen years older than Hancock, Adams had a somber, Puritan outlook that stood in marked contrast to Hancock's taste for luxury and extravagance. Apocryphal stories later portrayed Adams as masterminding Hancock's political rise so that the merchant's wealth could be used to further the Whig agenda. Historian James Truslow Adams portrayed Hancock as shallow and vain, easily manipulated by Adams. Historian William M. Fowler, who wrote biographies of both men, argued that this characterization was an exaggeration, and that the relationship between the two was symbiotic, with Adams as the mentor and Hancock the protégé.

After the repeal of the Stamp Act, Parliament took a different approach to raising revenue, passing the 1767 Townshend Acts, which established new duties on various imports and strengthened the customs agency by creating the American Customs Board. The British government believed that a more efficient customs system was necessary because many colonial American merchants had been smuggling. Smugglers violated the Navigation Acts by trading with ports outside of the British Empire and avoiding import taxes. Parliament hoped that the new system would reduce smuggling and generate revenue for the government.

Colonial merchants, even those not involved in smuggling, found the new regulations oppressive. Other colonists protested that new duties were another attempt by Parliament to tax the colonies without their consent. Hancock joined other Bostonians in calling for a boycott of British imports until the Townshend duties were repealed. In their enforcement of the customs regulations, the Customs Board targeted Hancock, Boston's wealthiest Whig. They may have suspected that he was a smuggler, or they may have wanted to harass him because of his politics, especially after Hancock snubbed Governor Francis Bernard by refusing to attend public functions when the customs officials were present.

On April 9, 1768, two customs employees (called tidesmen) boarded Hancock's brig Lydia in Boston Harbor. Hancock was summoned, and finding that the agents lacked a writ of assistance (a general search warrant), he did not allow them to go below deck. When one of them later managed to get into the hold, Hancock's men forced the tidesman back on deck. Customs officials wanted to file charges, but the case was dropped when Massachusetts Attorney General Jonathan Sewall ruled that Hancock had broken no laws. Later, some of Hancock's most ardent admirers would call this incident the first act of physical resistance to British authority in the colonies and credit Hancock with initiating the American Revolution.

The next incident proved to be a major event in the coming of the American Revolution. On the evening of May 9, 1768, Hancock's sloop Liberty arrived in Boston Harbor, carrying a shipment of Madeira wine. When custom officers inspected the ship the next morning, they found that it contained 25 pipes of wine, just one fourth of the ship's carrying capacity. Hancock paid the duties on the 25 pipes of wine, but officials suspected that he had arranged to have more wine unloaded during the night to avoid paying the duties for the entire cargo. They did not have any evidence to prove this, however, since the two tidesmen who had stayed on the ship overnight gave a sworn statement that nothing had been unloaded.

One month later, while the British warship HMS Romney was in port, one of the tidesmen changed his story: he now claimed that he had been forcibly held on the Liberty while it had been illegally unloaded. On June 10, customs officials seized the Liberty. Bostonians were already angry because the captain of the Romney had been impressing colonists, and not just deserters from the Royal Navy, an arguably illegal activity. A riot broke out when officials began to tow the Liberty out to the Romney, which was also arguably illegal. The confrontation escalated when sailors and marines coming ashore to seize the Liberty were mistaken for a press gang. After the riot, customs officials relocated to the Romney, and then to Castle William (an island fort in the harbor), claiming that they were unsafe in town. Whigs insisted that the customs officials were exaggerating the danger so that London would send troops to Boston.

British officials filed two lawsuits stemming from the Liberty incident: an in rem suit against the ship, and an in personam suit against Hancock. Royal officials, as well as Hancock's accuser, stood to gain financially, since, as was the custom, any penalties assessed by the court would be awarded to the governor, the informer, and the Crown, each getting a third. The first suit, filed on June 22, 1768, resulted in the confiscation of the Liberty in August. Customs officials then used the ship to enforce trade regulations until it was burned by angry colonists in Rhode Island the following year.

The second trial began in October 1768, when charges were filed against Hancock and five others for allegedly unloading 100 pipes of wine from the Liberty without paying the duties. If convicted, the defendants would have had to pay a penalty of triple the value of the wine, which came to £9,000. With John Adams serving as his lawyer, Hancock was prosecuted in a highly publicized trial by a vice admiralty court, which had no jury and did not always allow the defense to cross-examine the witnesses. After dragging out for nearly five months, the proceedings against Hancock were dropped without explanation.

Although the charges against Hancock were dropped, many writers later described him as a smuggler. The accuracy of this characterization has been questioned. "Hancock's guilt or innocence and the exact charges against him", wrote historian John W. Tyler in 1986, "are still fiercely debated." Historian Oliver Dickerson argued that Hancock was the victim of an essentially criminal racketeering scheme perpetrated by Governor Bernard and the customs officials. Dickerson believed that there is no reliable evidence that Hancock was guilty in the Liberty case, and that the purpose of the trials was to punish Hancock for political reasons and to plunder his property. Opposed to Dickerson's interpretation were Kinvin Wroth and Hiller Zobel, the editors of John Adams's legal papers, who argued that "Hancock's innocence is open to question", and that the British officials acted legally, if unwisely. Lawyer and historian Bernard Knollenberg concluded that the customs officials had the right to seize Hancock's ship, but towing it out to the Romney had been illegal. Legal historian John Phillip Reid argued that the testimony of both sides was so politically partial that it is not possible to objectively reconstruct the incident.

Aside from the Liberty affair, the degree to which Hancock was engaged in smuggling, which may have been widespread in the colonies, has been questioned. Given the clandestine nature of smuggling, records are scarce. If Hancock was a smuggler, no documentation of this has been found. John W. Tyler identified 23 smugglers in his study of more than 400 merchants in revolutionary Boston, but found no written evidence that Hancock was one of them. Biographer William Fowler concluded that while Hancock was probably engaged in some smuggling, most of his business was legitimate, and his later reputation as the "king of the colonial smugglers" is a myth without foundation.

The Liberty affair reinforced a previously made British decision to suppress unrest in Boston with a show of military might. The decision had been prompted by Samuel Adams's 1768 Circular Letter, which was sent to other British American colonies in hopes of coordinating resistance to the Townshend Acts. Lord Hillsborough, secretary of state for the colonies, sent four regiments of the British Army to Boston to support embattled royal officials, and instructed Governor Bernard to order the Massachusetts legislature to revoke the Circular Letter. Hancock and the Massachusetts House voted against rescinding the letter, and instead drew up a petition demanding Governor Bernard's recall. When Bernard returned to England in 1769, Bostonians celebrated.

The British troops remained, however, and tensions between soldiers and civilians eventually resulted in the killing of five civilians in the Boston Massacre of March 1770. Hancock was not involved in the incident, but afterwards he led a committee to demand the removal of the troops. Meeting with Bernard's successor, Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and the British officer in command, Colonel William Dalrymple, Hancock claimed that there were 10,000 armed colonists ready to march into Boston if the troops did not leave. Hutchinson knew that Hancock was bluffing, but the soldiers were in a precarious position when garrisoned within the town, and so Dalrymple agreed to remove both regiments to Castle William. Hancock was celebrated as a hero for his role in getting the troops withdrawn. His reelection to the Massachusetts House in May was nearly unanimous.

After Parliament partially repealed the Townshend duties in 1770, Boston's boycott of British goods ended. Politics became quieter in Massachusetts, although tensions remained. Hancock tried to improve his relationship with Governor Hutchinson, who in turn sought to woo Hancock away from Adams's influence. In April 1772, Hutchinson approved Hancock's election as colonel of the Boston Cadets, a militia unit whose primary function was to provide a ceremonial escort for the governor and the General Court. In May, Hutchinson even approved Hancock's election to the Council, the upper chamber of the General Court, whose members were elected by the House but subject to veto by the governor. Hancock's previous elections to the Council had been vetoed, but now Hutchinson allowed the election to stand. Hancock declined the office, however, not wanting to appear to have been co-opted by the governor. Nevertheless, Hancock used the improved relationship to resolve an ongoing dispute. To avoid hostile crowds in Boston, Hutchinson had been convening the legislature outside of town; now he agreed to allow the General Court to sit in Boston once again, to the relief of the legislators.

Hutchinson had dared to hope that he could win over Hancock and discredit Adams. To some, it seemed that Adams and Hancock were indeed at odds: when Adams formed the Boston Committee of Correspondence in November 1772 to advocate colonial rights, Hancock declined to join, creating the impression that there was a split in the Whig ranks. But whatever their differences, Hancock and Adams came together again in 1773 with the renewal of major political turmoil. They cooperated in the revelation of private letters of Thomas Hutchinson, in which the governor seemed to recommend "an abridgement of what are called English liberties" to bring order to the colony. The Massachusetts House, blaming Hutchinson for the military occupation of Boston, called for his removal as governor.

Even more trouble followed Parliament's passage of the 1773 Tea Act. On November 5, Hancock was elected as moderator at a Boston town meeting that resolved that anyone who supported the Tea Act was an "Enemy to America". Hancock and others tried to force the resignation of the agents who had been appointed to receive the tea shipments. Unsuccessful in this, they attempted to prevent the tea from being unloaded after three tea ships had arrived in Boston Harbor. Hancock was at the fateful meeting on December 16, where he reportedly told the crowd, "Let every man do what is right in his own eyes." Hancock did not take part in the Boston Tea Party that night, but he approved of the action, although he was careful not to publicly praise the destruction of private property.

Over the next few months, Hancock was disabled by gout, which would trouble him with increasing frequency in the coming years. By March 5, 1774, he had recovered enough to deliver the fourth annual Massacre Day oration, a commemoration of the Boston Massacre. Hancock's speech denounced the presence of British troops in Boston, who he said had been sent there "to enforce obedience to acts of Parliament, which neither God nor man ever empowered them to make". The speech, probably written by Hancock in collaboration with Adams, Joseph Warren, and others, was published and widely reprinted, enhancing Hancock's stature as a leading Patriot.

Parliament responded to the Tea Party with the Boston Port Act, one of the so-called Coercive Acts intended to strengthen British control of the colonies. Hutchinson was replaced as governor by General Thomas Gage, who arrived in May 1774. On June 17, the Massachusetts House elected five delegates to send to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which was being organized to coordinate colonial response to the Coercive Acts. Hancock did not serve in the first Congress, possibly for health reasons, or possibly to remain in charge while the other Patriot leaders were away.

Gage soon dismissed Hancock from his post as colonel of the Boston Cadets. In October 1774, Gage canceled the scheduled meeting of the General Court. In response, the House resolved itself into the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, a body independent of British control. Hancock was elected as president of the Provincial Congress and was a key member of the Committee of Safety. The Provincial Congress created the first minutemen companies, consisting of militiamen who were to be ready for action on a moment's notice.

On December 1, 1774, the Provincial Congress elected Hancock as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress to replace James Bowdoin, who had been unable to attend the first Congress because of illness. Before Hancock reported to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the Provincial Congress unanimously reelected him as their president in February 1775. Hancock's multiple roles gave him enormous influence in Massachusetts, and as early as January 1774 British officials had considered arresting him. After attending the Provincial Congress in Concord in April 1775, Hancock and Samuel Adams decided that it was not safe to return to Boston before leaving for Philadelphia. They stayed instead at Hancock's childhood home in Lexington.

Gage received a letter from Lord Dartmouth on April 14, 1775, advising him "to arrest the principal actors and abettors in the Provincial Congress whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason and rebellion". On the night of April 18, Gage sent out a detachment of soldiers on the fateful mission that would spark the American Revolutionary War. The purpose of the British expedition was to seize and destroy military supplies that the colonists had stored in Concord. According to many historical accounts, Gage also instructed his men to arrest Hancock and Adams; if so, the written orders issued by Gage made no mention of arresting the Patriot leaders. Gage apparently decided that he had nothing to gain by arresting Hancock and Adams, since other leaders would simply take their place, and the British would be portrayed as the aggressors.

Although Gage had evidently decided against seizing Hancock and Adams, Patriots initially believed otherwise. From Boston, Joseph Warren dispatched messenger Paul Revere to warn Hancock and Adams that British troops were on the move and might attempt to arrest them. Revere reached Lexington around midnight and gave the warning. Hancock, still considering himself a militia colonel, wanted to take the field with the Patriot militia at Lexington, but Adams and others convinced him to avoid battle, arguing that he was more valuable as a political leader than as a soldier. As Hancock and Adams made their escape, the first shots of the war were fired at Lexington and Concord. Soon after the battle, Gage issued a proclamation granting a general pardon to all who would "lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects"—with the exceptions of Hancock and Samuel Adams. Singling out Hancock and Adams in this manner only added to their renown among Patriots.

With the war underway, Hancock made his way to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia with the other Massachusetts delegates. On May 24, 1775, he was unanimously elected President of the Continental Congress, succeeding Peyton Randolph after Henry Middleton declined the nomination. Hancock was a good choice for president for several reasons. He was experienced, having often presided over legislative bodies and town meetings in Massachusetts. His wealth and social standing inspired the confidence of moderate delegates, while his association with Boston radicals made him acceptable to other radicals. His position was somewhat ambiguous, because the role of the president was not fully defined, and it was not clear if Randolph had resigned or was on a leave of absence. Like other presidents of Congress, Hancock's authority was mostly limited to that of a presiding officer. He also had to handle a great deal of official correspondence, and he found it necessary to hire clerks at his own expense to help with the paperwork.

In Congress on June 15, 1775, Massachusetts delegate John Adams nominated George Washington as commander-in-chief of the army then gathered around Boston. Years later, Adams wrote that Hancock had shown great disappointment at not getting the command for himself. This brief comment from 1801 is the only source for the oft-cited claim that Hancock sought to become commander-in-chief. In the early 20th century, historian James Truslow Adams wrote that the incident initiated a lifelong estrangement between Hancock and Washington, but some subsequent historians have expressed doubt that the incident, or the estrangement, ever occurred. According to historian Donald Proctor, "There is no contemporary evidence that Hancock harbored ambitions to be named commander-in-chief. Quite the contrary." Hancock and Washington maintained a good relationship after the alleged incident, and in 1778 Hancock named his only son John George Washington Hancock. Hancock admired and supported General Washington, even though Washington politely declined Hancock's request for a military appointment.

When Congress recessed on August 1, 1775, Hancock took the opportunity to wed his fiancée, Dorothy "Dolly" Quincy. The couple was married on August 28 in Fairfield, Connecticut. John and Dorothy would have two children, neither of whom survived to adulthood. Their daughter Lydia Henchman Hancock was born in 1776 and died ten months later. Their son John was born in 1778 and died in 1787 after suffering a head injury while ice skating.

While president of Congress, Hancock became involved in a long-running controversy with Harvard. As treasurer of the college since 1773, he had been entrusted with the school's financial records and about £15,000 in cash and securities. In the rush of events at the onset of the Revolutionary War, Hancock had been unable to return the money and accounts to Harvard before leaving for Congress. In 1777, a Harvard committee headed by James Bowdoin, Hancock's chief political and social rival in Boston, sent a messenger to Philadelphia to retrieve the money and records. Hancock was offended, but he turned over more than £16,000, though not all of the records, to the college. When Harvard replaced Hancock as treasurer, his ego was bruised, and for years he declined to settle the account or pay the interest on the money he had held, despite pressure put on him by Bowdoin and other political opponents. The issue dragged on until after Hancock's death, when his estate finally paid the college more than £1,000 to resolve the matter.

Hancock served in Congress through some of the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. The British drove Washington from New York and New Jersey in 1776, which prompted Congress to flee to Baltimore, Maryland.Hancock and Congress returned to Philadelphia in March 1777, but were compelled to flee six months later when the British occupied Philadelphia. Hancock wrote innumerable letters to colonial officials, raising money, supplies, and troops for Washington's army. He chaired the Marine Committee, and took pride in helping to create a small fleet of American frigates, including the USS Hancock, which was named in his honor.

Hancock was president of Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. He is primarily remembered by Americans for his large, flamboyant signature on the Declaration, so much so that "John Hancock" became, in the United States, an informal synonym for signature. According to legend, Hancock signed his name largely and clearly so that King George could read it without his spectacles, but the story is apocryphal and originated years later.

Contrary to popular mythology, there was no ceremonial signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1776. After Congress approved the wording of the text on July 4, the fair copy was sent to be printed. As president, Hancock may have signed the document that was sent to the printer John Dunlap, but this is uncertain because that document is lost, perhaps destroyed in the printing process. Dunlap produced the first published version of the Declaration, the widely distributed Dunlap broadside. Hancock, as President of Congress, was the only delegate whose name appeared on the broadside, although the name of Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, but not a delegate, was also on it as "Attested by" implying that Hancock had signed the fair copy. This meant that until a second broadside was issued six months later with all of the signers listed, Hancock was the only delegate whose name was publicly attached to the treasonous document. Hancock sent a copy of the Dunlap broadside to George Washington, instructing him to have it read to the troops "in the way you shall think most proper".

Hancock's name was printed, not signed, on the Dunlap broadside; his iconic signature appears on a different document—a sheet of parchment that was carefully handwritten sometime after July 19 and signed on August 2 by Hancock and those delegates present. Known as the engrossed copy, this is the famous document on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

In October 1777, after more than two years in Congress, President Hancock requested a leave of absence. He asked George Washington to arrange a military escort for his return to Boston. Although Washington was short on manpower, he nevertheless sent fifteen horsemen to accompany Hancock on his journey home. By this time Hancock had become estranged from Samuel Adams, who disapproved of what he viewed as Hancock's vanity and extravagance, which Adams believed were inappropriate in a republican leader. When Congress voted to thank Hancock for his service, Adams and the other Massachusetts delegates voted against the resolution, as did a few delegates from other states.

Back in Boston, Hancock was reelected to the House of Representatives. As in previous years, his philanthropy made him popular. Although his finances had suffered greatly because of the war, he gave to the poor, helped support widows and orphans, and loaned money to friends. According to biographer William Fowler, "John Hancock was a generous man and the people loved him for it. He was their idol." In December 1777, he was reelected as a delegate to the Continental Congress and as moderator of the Boston town meeting.

Hancock rejoined the Continental Congress in Pennsylvania in June 1778, but his brief time there was unhappy. In his absence, Congress had elected Henry Laurens as its new president, which was a disappointment to Hancock, who had hoped to reclaim his chair. Hancock got along poorly with Samuel Adams, and missed his wife and newborn son. On July 9, 1778, Hancock and the other Massachusetts delegates joined the representatives from seven other states in signing the Articles of Confederation; the remaining states were not yet prepared to sign, and the Articles would not be ratified until 1781.

Hancock returned to Boston in July 1778, motivated by the opportunity to finally lead men in combat. Back in 1776, he had been appointed as the senior major general of the Massachusetts militia. Now that the French fleet had come to the aid of the Americans, General Washington instructed General John Sullivan of the Continental Army to lead an attack on the British garrison at Newport, Rhode Island, in August 1778. Hancock nominally commanded 6,000 militiamen in the campaign, although he let the professional soldiers do the planning and issue the orders. It was a fiasco: French Admiral d'Estaing abandoned the operation, after which Hancock's militia mostly deserted Sullivan's Continentals. Hancock suffered some criticism for the debacle but emerged from his brief military career with his popularity intact. He was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1780.

After much delay, the new Massachusetts Constitution finally went into effect in October 1780. To no one's surprise, Hancock was elected Governor of Massachusetts in a landslide, garnering over 90% of the vote. In the absence of formal party politics, the contest was one of personality, popularity, and patriotism. Hancock was immensely popular and unquestionably patriotic given his personal sacrifices and his leadership of the Second Continental Congress. James Bowdoin, his principal opponent, was cast by Hancock's supporters as unpatriotic, citing among other things his refusal (which was due to poor health) to serve in the First Continental Congress. Bowdoin's supporters, who were principally well-off commercial interests from Massachusetts coastal communities, cast Hancock as a foppish demagogue who pandered to the populace.

Hancock governed Massachusetts through the end of the Revolutionary War and into an economically troubled postwar period, repeatedly winning reelection by wide margins. Hancock took a hands-off approach to governing, avoiding controversial issues as much as possible. According to William Fowler, Hancock "never really led" and "never used his strength to deal with the critical issues confronting the commonwealth." Hancock governed until his surprise resignation on January 29, 1785. Hancock cited his failing health as the reason, but he may have become aware of growing unrest in the countryside and wanted to get out of office before the trouble came. Hancock's critics sometimes believed that he used claims of illness to avoid difficult political situations. Historian James Truslow Adams wrote that Hancock's "two chief resources were his money and his gout, the first always used to gain popularity, and the second to prevent his losing it". The turmoil that Hancock avoided ultimately blossomed as Shays's Rebellion, which Hancock's successor James Bowdoin had to deal with. After the uprising, Hancock was reelected in 1787, and he promptly pardoned all the rebels. Hancock was reelected to annual terms as governor for the remainder of his life.

When he had resigned as governor in 1785, Hancock was again elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress, known as the Confederation Congress after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781. Congress had declined in importance after the Revolutionary War, and was frequently ignored by the states. Congress elected Hancock to serve as its president, but he never attended because of his poor health and because he was not interested. He sent Congress a letter of resignation in 1786.

In an effort to remedy the perceived defects of the Articles of Confederation, delegates were first sent to the Annapolis Convention in 1786 and then to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, where they drafted the United States Constitution, which was then sent to the states for ratification or rejection. Hancock, who was not present at the Philadelphia Convention, had misgivings about the new Constitution's lack of a bill of rights and its shift of power to a central government. In January 1788, Hancock was elected president of the Massachusetts ratifying convention, although he was ill and not present when the convention began. Hancock mostly remained silent during the contentious debates, but as the convention was drawing to close, he gave a speech in favor of ratification. For the first time in years, Samuel Adams supported Hancock's position. Even with the support of Hancock and Adams, the Massachusetts convention narrowly ratified the Constitution by a vote of 187 to 168. Hancock's support was probably a deciding factor in the ratification.

Hancock was put forth as a candidate in the 1789 U. S. presidential election. As was the custom in an era where political ambition was viewed with suspicion, Hancock did not campaign or even publicly express interest in the office; he instead made his wishes known indirectly. Like everyone else, Hancock knew that George Washington was going to be elected as the first president, but Hancock may have been interested in being vice president, despite his poor health. Hancock received only four electoral votes in the election, however, none of them from his home state; the Massachusetts electors all voted for another Massachusetts native, John Adams, who received the second-highest number of electoral votes and thus became vice president. Although Hancock was disappointed with his performance in the election, he continued to be popular in Massachusetts.

His health failing, Hancock spent his final few years as essentially a figurehead governor. With his wife at his side, he died in bed on October 8, 1793, at 56 years of age. By order of acting governor Samuel Adams, the day of Hancock's burial was a state holiday; the lavish funeral was perhaps the grandest given to an American up to that time.

Despite his grand funeral, Hancock faded from popular memory after his death. According to historian Alfred Young, "Boston celebrated only one hero in the half-century after the Revolution: George Washington." As early as 1809, John Adams lamented that Hancock and Samuel Adams were "almost buried in oblivion". In Boston, little effort was made to preserve Hancock's historical legacy. His house on Beacon Hill was torn down in 1863 after both the city of Boston and the Massachusetts legislature decided against maintaining it. According to Young, the conservative "new elite" of Massachusetts "was not comfortable with a rich man who pledged his fortune to the cause of revolution". In 1876, with the centennial of American independence renewing popular interest in the Revolution, plaques honoring Hancock were put up in Boston. In 1896, a memorial column was finally erected over Hancock's essentially unmarked grave in the Granary Burying Ground.

No full-length biography of Hancock appeared until the 20th century. A challenge facing Hancock biographers is that, compared to prominent Founding Fathers like Jefferson and John Adams, Hancock left relatively few personal writings for historians to use in interpreting his life. As a result, most depictions of Hancock have relied on the voluminous writings of his political opponents, who were often scathingly critical of him. According to historian Charles Akers, "The chief victim of Massachusetts historiography has been John Hancock, the most gifted and popular politician in the Bay State's long history. He suffered the misfortune of being known to later generations almost entirely through the judgments of his detractors, Tory and Whig."

Hancock's most influential 20th-century detractor was historian James Truslow Adams, who wrote negative portraits of Hancock in Harper's Magazine and the Dictionary of American Biography in the 1930s. Adams argued that Hancock was a "fair presiding officer" but had "no great ability", and was prominent only because of his inherited wealth. Decades later, historian Donald Proctor argued that Adams had uncritically repeated the negative views of Hancock's political opponents without doing any serious research. Adams "presented a series of disparaging incidents and anecdotes, sometimes partially documented, sometimes not documented at all, which in sum leave one with a distinctly unfavorable impression of Hancock". According to Proctor, Adams evidently projected his own disapproval of 1920s businessmen onto Hancock, and ended up misrepresenting several key events in Hancock's career. Writing in the 1970s, Proctor and Akers called for scholars to evaluate Hancock based on his merits, rather than on the views of his critics. Since that time, historians have usually presented a more favorable portrait of Hancock, while acknowledging that he was not an important writer, political theorist, or military leader.

Many places and things in the United States have been named in honor of John Hancock. The U.S. Navy has named vessels USS Hancock and USS John Hancock; a World War II Liberty ship was also named in his honor. Ten states have a Hancock County named for him; other places named after him include Hancock, Massachusetts; Hancock, Michigan; Hancock, New Hampshire; Hancock, New York; and Mount Hancock in New Hampshire. John Hancock University is named for him, as was the John Hancock Financial company, founded in Boston in 1862; it had no connection to Hancock's own business ventures. The financial company passed on the name to the John Hancock Tower in Boston, the John Hancock Center in Chicago, as well as the John Hancock Student Village at Boston University.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee (January 20, 1732 – June 19, 1794) was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States Declaration of Independence, which Lee signed. He also served a one-year term as the President of the Congress of the Confederation, and was a United States Senator from Virginia from 1789 to 1792, serving during part of that time as the second President pro tempore of the upper house.

He was a member of the Lee family, a historically influential family in Virginia politics.

He was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia to Thomas Lee and Hannah Harrison Ludwell Lee on January 20, 1732. He was raised and came from a line of military officers, diplomats, and legislators. His father, Thomas Lee, was the governor of Virginia before his death in 1750. Lee spent most of his early life in Stratford, Virginia with his family at Stratford Hall. Here he was tutored and taught in a variety of skills, and witnessed the very beginning of political career as his father sent him around to neighboring planters with the intention for Lee to become associated with neighboring men of like prominence. In 1748, at 16, Lee left Virginia for Yorkshire, England, to complete his formal education at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield. Both of his parents died in 1750 and, in 1753, after touring Europe, he returned to Virginia to help his brothers settle the estate his parents had left behind.

In 1757, Lee was appointed justice of the peace in Westmoreland County. In 1758 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he met Patrick Henry. An early advocate of independence, Lee became one of the first to create Committees of Correspondence among the many independence-minded Americans in the various colonies. In 1766, almost ten years before the American Revolutionary War, Lee is credited with having authored the Westmoreland Resolution which was publicly signed by prominent landowners who met at Leedstown, Westmoreland County, Virginia on 27 February 1766. This resolution was signed by four brothers of George Washington as well as Gilbert Campbell.

American Revolution
In August 1774, Lee was chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In Lee's Resolution on the 7th of June 1776 during the Second Continental Congress, Lee put forth the motion to the Continental Congress to declare Independence from Great Britain, which read (in part):

Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Lee had returned to Virginia by the time Congress voted on and adopted the Declaration of Independence, but he signed the document when he returned to Congress.

President of Congress
Lee was elected the sixth President of Congress under the Articles of Confederation on November 30, 1784, in the French Arms Tavern, Trenton, New Jersey. On January 11, 1785, Congress convened in the old New York City Hall and Lee presided over that Congress until November 23, 1785. Although, he was not paid a salary for his office as president, his household expenses were paid by Congress in the amount of $12,203.13.

Lee's Congress was most active in 1785, passing numerous legislation, including establishing a United States dollar tied to the Spanish dollar as the national currency. His most pressing issue, however, was to settle the states' territorial disputes over the Northwest Territory. Throughout his term, Lee remained steadfast that the release of states’ territorial claims on the Northwest Territory would enable the federal government to fund itself with land sales. He believed that the urgency of this measure was paramount because borrowing more foreign money was no longer prudent, and he abhorred the movement to establish federal taxes. The sale of these vast federal lands, he concluded, was the nation's only hope to pay off the war debt and adequately fund federal government. Debate began on the expansion of the Ordinance of 1784 and Thomas Jefferson’s survey method “hundreds of ten geographical miles square, each mile containing 6086 and 4-10ths of a foot” and “sub-divided into lots of one mile square each, or 850 and 4-10ths of an acre" on April 14. On May 3, 1785, William Grayson of Virginia made a motion seconded by James Monroe to change “seven miles square” to “six miles square”, and the current US Survey system was born. Lee wrote to his friend and colleague Samuel Adams:

I hope we shall shortly finish our plan for disposing of the western Lands to discharge the oppressive public debt created by the war & I think that if this source of revenue be rightly managed, that these republics may soon be discharged from that state of oppression and distress that an indebted people must invariably feel.

The states relinquished their right to this "test tract" of land, and the Land Ordinance of 1785 was passed on May 20, 1785.

The federal government, however, lacked the resources to manage the newly surveyed lands because Native Americans refused to relinquish a large percentage of the platted land, and most of the territory remained too dangerous for settlement. This either required troops to eject the Native Americans or capital to purchase their land "fairly", insuring the peaceful sale and settlement. Additionally the small amount of federal land that was not in dispute by the Native Americans was enthusiastically being occupied by western settlers that had no faith in or respect for the Congress as a federal authority. The settlers claimed the land as squatters, and the Congress was unable to muster the capital to send magistrates let alone troops to enforce the $1.00 per acre fee required for a clear federal land title. With the states no longer in control of the lands and no federal magistrates or troops to enforce the laws, a tide of western squatters flowed into the Northwest Territory. Lee's plan to fill the federal treasury with the proceeds of land sales failed, but the survey system developed under the Land Ordinance of 1785 is still used today.

Political offices
Justice of the Peace for Westmoreland County, Virginia (1757)
Virginia House of Burgesses (1758–1775)
Member of the Continental Congress (1774–1779, 1784–1785, 1787)
A Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776)
Virginia House of Delegates (1777, 1780, 1785)
President of the Confederation Congress (November 30, 1784 – November 4, 1785)
United States Senator from Virginia (March 4, 1789 – October 8, 1792)
President pro tempore during the Second Congress (April 18 – October 8, 1792)
Personal life
Marriages and children
Lee married first on December 5, 1757, Anne Aylett (1738–1768), daughter of William Aylett and Elizabeth Eskridge (1719). Anne died December 12, 1768 at Chantille, Westmoreland Co., Virginia. The couple had six children, four of whom survived infancy:

Elizabeth Virginia Lee (1755), who died in infancy.
Thomas Lee (1758–1805), resided at Park Gate from 1790 to 1805.
Col. Ludwell Lee, Esq. (1760–1836), who married Flora Lee (1771–1795), daughter of Hon. Philip Ludwell Lee, Sr., Esq. (1727–1775) and Elizabeth Steptoe (1743–1789), who married secondly, Philip Richard Fendall I (1734–1805).
Mary Lee (1764–1795).
Hannah Lee (1765–1801), who married Hon. Corbin Washington (1764–1799), son of Col. John Augustine Washington (1736–1787) and Hannah Bushrod (1738–1801).
Marybelle Lee (1768), who died in infancy.
Lee remarried in June or July 1769 to Anne (Gaskins) Pinckard. The couple had seven children, five of whom survived infancy:

Anne Lee (1770–1804), who married Hon. Charles Lee (1758–1815), U.S. Attorney General under John Adams. Charles was the son of Maj. Gen. Henry Lee II (1730–1787) and Lucy Grymes (1734–1792).
Henrietta "Harriotte" Lee (1773–1803), who married Hon. George Richard Lee Turberville (c. 1770), son of Hon. George Richard Turberville, Jr. (1742–1792) and Martha Corbin (1742).
Sarah Caldwell "Sally" Lee (1775–1837), who married Edmund Jennings Lee I (1772–1843), son of Maj. Gen. Henry Lee II (1730–1787) and Lucy Grymes (1734–1792).
Cassius Lee (1779–1850).
Francis Lightfoot Lee II (1782–1850), who married Jane Fitzgerald (died 1816), daughter of Col. John Fitzgerald and Jane Digges. (grandparents of Francis Preston Blair Lee)
 ? Lee (1784), twins, who died in infancy.
 ? Lee (1786), who died in infancy.
Lee honored his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee (another signer of the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence), by naming his fourth son after him.

The younger Francis married Jane Fitzgerald on 9 Feb 1810. In 1811 he purchased the estate Sully in Fairfax County, Virginia from his second cousin Richard Bland Lee. Jane died on 25 Jul 1816, shortly after the birth on their fifth child.

Children of Lee's son Francis Lightfoot Lee
Jane Elizabeth Lee (January 1, 1811 – June 25, 1837); married Henry T. Harrison
Samuel Philips Lee (February 13, 1812 – June 5, 1897); Rear Admiral; married Elizabeth Blair, daughter of Francis Preston Blair
John Fitzgerald Lee (May 5, 1813 – June 17, 1884)
Thomas Arthur Lee (February 18, 1815 – August 3, 1841), called Arthur, married in 1841 in Woodford County, Kentucky, to Agatha "Agnes" Alexander, cousin of Elizabeth Blair, his brother Samuel Philips Lee's wife
Frances Ann Lee (June 29, 1816 – December 5, 1889); married Goldsborough Robinson
Lee was the son of Col. Thomas Lee, Hon. (1690–1750) of "Stratford Hall", Westmoreland Co., Virginia. Thomas married Hannah Harrison Ludwell (1701–1750).
Hannah was the daughter of Col. Philip Ludwell II (1672–1726) of "Greenspring", and Hannah Harrison (1679–1731).
Thomas was the son of Col. Richard Lee II, Esq., "the scholar" (1647–1715) and Laetitia Corbin (c. 1657–1706).
Laetitia was the daughter of Lee’s neighbor and, Councillor, Hon. Henry Corbin, Sr. (1629–1676) and Alice (Eltonhead) Burnham (c. 1627–1684).
Richard II, was the son of Col. Richard Lee I, Esq., "the immigrant" (1618–1664) and Anne Constable (c. 1621–1666).
Anne was the daughter of Thomas Constable and a ward of Sir John Thoroughgood.
Jason Barfield II (1626–1700)

Richard Henry Lee Elementary School in Rossmoor, California and Richard Henry Lee School in Chicago, Illinois are named in his honor. Richard Henry Lee Elementary in Glen Burnie, Maryland is also named after him.

The Chantilly Archaeological Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

In popular culture
Lee is portrayed as a character in the musical 1776. He was portrayed by Ron Holgate in both the Broadway cast and in the 1972 film. In one scene, Lee performs a song called "The Lees of Old Virginia," in which he explains how he knows he will be able to convince the Virginia House of Burgesses to allow him to propose independence and celebrates his own status as a Lee, one of the First Families of Virginia. The character is presented as vain, but not very bright, serving the play as a comic device rather than a historically based portrayal of Lee.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Intolerable Acts

The Intolerable Acts were the American Patriots' term for a series of punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. They were meant to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in throwing a large tea shipment into Boston Harbor. In Great Britain, these laws were referred to as the Coercive Acts.

The acts took away Massachusetts' self-government and historic rights, triggering outrage and resistance in the Thirteen Colonies. They were key developments in the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775.

Four of the acts were issued in direct response to the Boston Tea Party of December 1773; the British Parliament hoped these punitive measures would, by making an example of Massachusetts, reverse the trend of colonial resistance to parliamentary authority that had begun with the 1765 Stamp Act. A fifth act, the Quebec Act, enlarged the boundaries of what was then the Province of Quebec and instituted reforms generally favorable to the French Catholic inhabitants of the region; although unrelated to the other four Acts, it was passed in the same legislative session and seen by the colonists as one of the Intolerable Acts. The Patriots viewed the acts as an arbitrary violation of the rights of Massachusetts, and in September 1774 they organized the First Continental Congress to coordinate a protest. As tensions escalated, the American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, leading in July 1776 to the declaration of an independent United States of America.

Relations between the Thirteen Colonies and the British Parliament slowly but steadily worsened after the end of the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War) in 1763. The war had plunged the British government deep into debt, and so the British Parliament enacted a series of measures to increase tax revenue from the colonies. Parliament believed that these acts, such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767, were legitimate means of having the colonies pay their fair share of the costs of maintaining the British Empire. Although protests led to the repeal of the Stamp and Townshend Acts, Parliament adhered to the position that it had the right to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever" in the Declaratory Act of 1766.

Many colonists, however, had developed a different conception of the British Empire. Under the British Constitution, they argued, a British subject's property (in the form of taxes) could not be taken from him without his consent (in the form of representation in government). Therefore, because the colonies were not directly represented in Parliament, some colonists insisted that Parliament had no right to levy taxes upon them, a view expressed by the slogan "No taxation without representation." After the Townshend Acts, some colonial essayists took this line of thinking even further, and began to question whether Parliament had any legitimate jurisdiction in the colonies at all. This question of the extent of Parliament's sovereignty in the colonies was the issue underlying what became the American Revolution.

On December 16, 1773, a group of Patriot colonists associated with the Sons of Liberty destroyed several tons of tea in Boston, Massachusetts, an act that came to be known as the Boston Tea Party. The colonists partook in this action because Parliament had passed the Tea Act, which granted the British East India Company a monopoly on tea sales in the colonies, thereby saving the company from bankruptcy. This made British tea less expensive, which Parliament thought would be a welcome change in the colonies. In addition, there was added a small tax on which the colonists were not allowed to give their consent, but the tea still remained less expensive even with the tax. Again, Parliament taxed the colonists without their representation. This angered the colonists. News of the Boston Tea Party reached England in January 1774. Parliament responded by passing four laws. Three of the laws were intended to directly punish Massachusetts. This was for destruction of private property, to restore British authority in Massachusetts, and otherwise reform colonial government in America.

On April 22, 1774, Prime Minister Lord North defended the programme in the House of Commons, saying:

The Americans have tarred and feathered your subjects, plundered your merchants, burnt your ships, denied all obedience to your laws and authority; yet so clement and so long forbearing has our conduct been that it is incumbent on us now to take a different course. Whatever may be the consequences, we must risk something; if we do not, all is over.

The Boston Port Act, the first of the laws passed in 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party, closed the port of Boston until the colonists paid for the destroyed tea and until the king was satisfied that order had been restored. Colonists objected that the Port Act punished all of Boston rather than just the individuals who had destroyed the tea, and that they were being punished without having been given an opportunity to testify in their own defense.

The Massachusetts Government Act provoked even more outrage than the Port Act because it unilaterally took away Massachusetts' charter and brought it under control of the British government. Under the terms of the Government Act, almost all positions in the colonial government were to be appointed by the governor, Parliament, or king. The act also severely limited the activities of town meetings in Massachusetts to one meeting a year, unless the Governor called for one. Colonists outside Massachusetts feared that their governments could now also be changed by the legislative fiat of Parliament.

The Administration of Justice Act allowed the Royal governor to order that trials of accused royal officials take place in Great Britain or elsewhere within the Empire if he decided that the defendant could not get a fair trial in Massachusetts. Although the act stipulated for witnesses to be reimbursed after having travelled at their own expense across the Atlantic, it was not stipulated that this would include reimbursement for lost earnings during the period for which they would be unable to work, leaving few with the ability to testify. George Washington called this the "Murder Act" because he believed that it allowed British officials to harass Americans and then escape justice. Many colonists believed the act was unnecessary because British soldiers had been given a fair trial following the Boston Massacre in 1770.

The Quartering Act applied to all of the colonies, and sought to create a more effective method of housing British troops in America. In a previous act, the colonies had been required to provide housing for soldiers, but colonial legislatures had been uncooperative in doing so. The new Quartering Act allowed a governor to house soldiers in other buildings if suitable quarters were not provided. While many sources claim that the Quartering Act allowed troops to be billeted in occupied private homes, historian David Ammerman's 1974 study claimed that this is a myth, and that the act only permitted troops to be quartered in unoccupied buildings. Although many colonists found the Quartering Act objectionable, it generated the least protest of the four Coercive Acts.

Many colonists saw the Coercive Acts (Intolerable Acts) as a violation of their constitutional rights, their natural rights, and their colonial charters. They therefore viewed the acts as a threat to the liberties of all of British America, not just Massachusetts. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, for example, described the acts as "a most wicked System for destroying the liberty of America."

The citizens of Boston not only viewed this as an act of unnecessary and cruel punishment, but the Coercive Acts drew the revolting hate against Britain even further. As a result of the Coercive Acts, even more colonists wanted to join against Britain.

Great Britain hoped that the Coercive Acts would isolate radicals in Massachusetts and cause American colonists to concede the authority of Parliament over their elected assemblies. It was a calculated risk that backfired, however, because the harshness of some of the acts made it difficult for moderates in the colonies to speak in favor of Parliament. The acts promoted sympathy for Massachusetts and encouraged colonists from the otherwise diverse colonies to form the First Continental Congress. The Continental Congress created the Continental Association, an agreement to boycott British goods and, if that did not get the Coercive Acts reversed after a year, to stop exporting goods to Great Britain as well. The Congress also pledged to support Massachusetts in case of attack, which meant that all of the colonies would become involved when the American Revolutionary War began at Lexington and Concord.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Coal strike of 1902

The Coal strike of 1902, also known as the anthracite coal strike, was a strike by the United Mine Workers of America in the anthracite coalfields of eastern Pennsylvania. Miners were on strike asking for higher wages, shorter workdays and the recognition of their union. The strike threatened to shut down the winter fuel supply to all major cities (homes and apartments were heated with anthracite or "hard" coal because it had higher heat value and less smoke than "soft" or bituminous coal). President Theodore Roosevelt became involved and set up a fact-finding commission that suspended the strike. The strike never resumed, as the miners received a 10% wage increase and reduced workdays from ten to nine hours; the owners got a higher price for coal, and did not recognize the trade union as a bargaining agent. It was the first labor episode in which the federal government intervened as a neutral arbitrator.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) had won a sweeping victory in the 1897 strike by the soft-coal (bituminous coal) miners in the Midwest, winning significant wage increases and growing from 10,000 to 115,000 members. A number of small strikes took place in the anthracite district from 1899 to 1901, by which the labor union gained experience and unionized more workers. The 1899 strike in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, demonstrated that the unions could win a strike directed against a subsidiary of one of the large railroads.

It hoped to make similar gains in 1900, but found the operators, who had established an oligopoly through concentration of ownership after drastic fluctuations in the market for anthracite, to be far more determined opponents than it had anticipated. The owners refused to meet or to arbitrate with the union; the union struck on September 17, 1900, with results that surprised even the union, as miners of all different nationalities walked out in support of the union.

Republican Senator Mark Hanna, himself an owner of bituminous coal mines (not involved in the strike) sought to resolve the strike, coming less than two months before the presidential election. He worked through the National Civic Federation which brought labor and capital together. Relying on J. P. Morgan to convey his message to the industry that a strike would hurt the reelection of Republican William McKinley, Hanna was able to convince the owners to concede a wage increase and grievance procedure to the strikers. The industry refused, on the other hand, to formally recognize the UMWA as the representative of the workers. The union declared victory and dropped its demand for union recognition.

The issues that led to the strike of 1900 were just as pressing in 1902: the union wanted recognition and a degree of control over the industry. The industry, still smarting from its concessions in 1900, opposed any federal role. The 150,000 miners wanted their weekly pay envelope. Tens of millions of city dwellers needed coal to heat their homes.

John Mitchell, President of the UMWA, proposed mediation through the National Civic Federation, then a body of relatively progressive employers committed to collective bargaining as a means of resolving labor disputes. In the alternative, Mitchell proposed that a committee of eminent clergymen report on conditions in the coalfields. George Baer, President of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, one of the leading employers in the industry, brushed aside both proposals dismissively:

"Anthracite mining is a business, and not a religious, sentimental, or academic proposition.... I could not if I would delegate this business management to even so highly a respectable body as the Civic Federation, nor can I call to my aid . . . the eminent prelates you have named."

On May 12, 1902, the anthracite miners voting in Scranton, Pennsylvania went out on strike. The maintenance employees, who had much steadier jobs and did not face the special dangers of underground work, walked out on June 2. The union had the support of roughly eighty percent of the workers in this area, or more than 100,000 strikers. Some 30,000 left the region, many headed for Midwestern bituminous mines; 10,000 returned to Europe. The strike soon produced threats of violence between the strikers on one side and strikebreakers, the Pennsylvania National Guard, local police and hired detective agencies on the other

On June 8 President Theodore Roosevelt asked his Commissioner of Labor, Carroll D. Wright, to investigate the strike. Wright investigated and proposed reforms that acknowledged each side's position, recommending a nine-hour day on an experimental basis and limited collective bargaining. Roosevelt chose not to release the report, for fear of appearing to side with the union.

The owners, for their part, refused to negotiate with the union. As George Baer wrote when urged to make concessions to the strikers and their union, the "rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for—not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the country." The union used this letter to sway public opinion behind the strike.

Roosevelt wanted to intervene, but he was told by his Attorney General, Philander Knox, that he had no authority to do so. Hanna and many others in the Republican Party were likewise concerned about the political implications if the strike dragged on into winter, when the need for anthracite was greatest. As Roosevelt told Hanna, "A coal famine in the winter is an ugly thing and I fear we shall see terrible suffering and grave disaster."

Roosevelt therefore convened a conference of representatives of government, labor, and management on October 3, 1902. The union considered the mere holding of a meeting to be tantamount to union recognition and took a conciliatory tone. The owners told Roosevelt that strikers had killed over 20 men and that he should use the power of government "to protect the man who wants to work, and his wife and children when at work." With proper protection they would produce enough coal to end the fuel shortage; they refused to enter into any negotiations with the union. The governor sent in the National Guard, who protected the mines and the minority of men still working. Roosevelt attempted to persuade the union to end the strike with a promise that he would create a commission to study the causes of the strike and propose a solution, which Roosevelt promised to support with all of the authority of his office. Mitchell refused and his membership endorsed his decision by a nearly unanimous vote.

The economics of coal revolved around two factors: most of the cost of production was wages for miners, and if the supply fell the price would shoot up because in an age before oil and electricity, there were no good substitutes. Profits were low in 1902 because of an over supply; therefore the owners welcomed a moderately long strike. They had huge stockpiles which grew in value daily. It was illegal for the owners to conspire to shut down production, but not so if the miners went on strike. The owners welcomed the strike, but they adamantly refused to recognize the union, because they feared the union would control the coal industry by manipulating strikes.

Roosevelt continued to try to build support for a mediated solution, persuading former President Grover Cleveland to join the commission he was creating. He also considered sending the U.S. Army to take over the coalfields.

J.P. Morgan, the dominant figure in American finance, had played a role in resolving the 1900 strike. He was deeply involved in this strike as well: his interests included the Reading Railroad, one of the largest employers of miners, and he had installed George Baer, who spoke for the industry throughout the strike, as the head of the railroad.

Now, at the urging of Secretary of War Elihu Root, Morgan came up with another compromise proposal that provide for arbitration, while giving the industry the right to deny that it was bargaining with the union by directing that each employer and its employees communicate directly with the commission. The employers agreed on the condition that the five members be a military engineer, a mining engineer, a judge, an expert in the coal business, and an "eminent sociologist". The employers were willing to accept a union leader as the "eminent sociologist," so Roosevelt named E. E. Clark, head of the railway conductors' union, as the "eminent sociologist" and, after Catholics exerted pressure, added a sixth, Catholic bishop John Lancaster Spalding, and Commissioner Wright as the seventh member.

The anthracite strike ended, after 163 days, on October 23, 1902. The commissioners began work the next day, then spent a week touring the coal regions. Wright used the staff of the Department of Labor to collect data about the cost of living in the coalfields.

The commissioners then held hearings in Scranton over the next three months, taking testimony from 558 witnesses, including 240 for the striking miners, 153 for nonunion mineworkers, 154 for the operators and eleven called by the Commission itself. Baer made the closing arguments for the coal operators, while lawyer Clarence Darrow closed for the workers.

Although the commissioners heard some evidence of terrible conditions, they concluded that the "moving spectacle of horrors" represented only a small number of cases. By and large, social conditions in mine communities were found to be good, and miners were judged as only partly justified in their claim that annual earnings were not sufficient "to maintain an American standard of living."

Baer said in his closing arguments, "These men don't suffer. Why, hell, half of them don't even speak English". Darrow, for his part, summed up the pages of testimony of mistreatment he had obtained in the soaring rhetoric for which he was famous: "We are working for democracy, for humanity, for the future, for the day will come too late for us to see it or know it or receive its benefits, but which will come, and will remember our struggles, our triumphs, our defeats, and the words which we spake." In the end, however, the rhetoric of both sides made little difference to the Commission, which split the difference between mineworkers and mine owners. The miners asked for 20% wage increases, and most were given a 10% increase. The miners had asked for an eight-hour day and were awarded a nine-hour day instead of the standard ten hours then prevailing. While the operators refused to recognize the United Mine Workers, they were required to agree to a six-man arbitration board, made up of equal numbers of labor and management representatives, with the power to settle labor disputes. Mitchell considered that de facto recognition and called it a victory.

Organized labor celebrated the outcome as a victory for the UMWA and American Federation of Labor unions generally. Membership in other unions soared, as moderates argued they could produce concrete benefits for workers much sooner than radical Socialists who planned to overthrow capitalism in the future. Young John Mitchell proved his leadership skills and mastery of the problems of ethnic, skill, and regional divisions that had long plagued the union in the anthracite region. By contrast the strikes of the radical Western Federation of Miners in the West often turned into full-scale warfare between strikers and both employers and the civil and military authorities. This strike was successfully mediated through the intervention of the federal government, which strove to provide a "Square Deal"—which Roosevelt took as the motto for his administration—to both sides. The settlement was an important step in the Progressive era reforms of the decade that followed. There were no more major coal strikes until the 1920s.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Northern Securities Co. v. United States

Northern Securities Co. v. United States, 193 U.S. 197 (1904), was a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1903. The Court ruled 5 to 4 against the stockholders of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroad companies, who had essentially formed a monopoly, and to dissolve the Northern Securities Company.

In 1904, James Jerome Hill, president of and the largest stockholder in the Great Northern Railway, won the financial support of J. P. Morgan and attempted to take over the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q). The Burlington served a traffic-rich region of the Midwest and Great Plains, was well-managed, and quite profitable. It possessed a finely-engineered line connecting the Twin Cities to the nation's rail center of Chicago, which made it particularly attractive as an addition to Hill's Great Northern Railroad.

Hill's strategy was for his railroad and Morgan's Northern Pacific Railway to jointly buy the CB&Q.
 However, Edward Henry Harriman, president of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad, also wanted to buy the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Harriman demanded a one-third interest in the CB&Q, but Hill refused him. Harriman then began to buy up Northern Pacific's stock, forcing Hill and Morgan to counter by purchasing more stock as well. Northern Pacific's stock price skyrocketed, and the artificially high stock threatened to cause a crash on the New York Stock Exchange. Hill and Morgan were ultimately successful in obtaining more Northern Pacific stock than Harriman and won control of not only the Northern Pacific but also the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy.

Pressured by Harriman's actions, Hill created a holding company—the Northern Securities Company—to control all three of the railroads. The public was greatly alarmed by the formation of Northern Securities, which threatened to become the largest company in the world and monopolize railroad traffic in the western United States. President William McKinley, however, was not willing to pursue antitrust litigation against Hill. McKinley was assassinated, however, and his progressive Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt, ordered the United States Department of Justice to pursue a case against Northern Securities.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Danbury Hatters' Case

Loewe v. Lawlor, 208 U.S. 274 (1908), also referred to as the Danbury Hatters' Case, is a United States Supreme Court case concerning the application of antitrust laws to labor unions. The Court's decision had the effect of outlawing secondary boycotts as violative of the Sherman Antitrust Act, in the face of labor union protests that their actions affected only intrastate commerce. It was also decided that individual unionists could be held personally liable for damages incurred by the activities of their union.

In 1901, D. E. Loewe & Company, a fur hat manufacturer, declared itself an open shop. It was the third open shop ever established in Danbury, Connecticut, the center of the pelt industry since 1780. Loewe's declaration sparked a strike and a boycott by the United Hatters of North America (UHU), which had organized 70 out of 82 firms in the hat manufacturing industry. The nationwide boycott was assisted by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and was successful in persuading retailers, wholesalers and customers not to buy from or do business with Loewe. The goal of the operation was for UHU to gain union recognition as the bargaining agent for employees at Loewe & Co.

Loewe & Co. sued the union for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, alleging that UHU's boycott interfered with Loewe's ability to engage in the interstate commerce of selling hats. The act had been adopted in 1890 with the primary purpose to control business monopolies. The appellee in the case was Martin Lawlor, the business agent for the UHU, but the list of defendants included 240 union members.

The case was handled in the first instance by the United States Circuit Court for the District of Connecticut which dismissed the suit on the grounds that the alleged actions fell outside the scope of the Sherman Act. Loewe & Co. appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which certified the case to the Supreme Court.

In a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Melville Fuller, the UHU was found to have been acting in restraint of interstate commerce, and to have violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. Fuller began the opinion by recounting the relevant provisions of the Sherman Act. The first, second, and seventh section of the act can be concisely described as follows:

1. Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is illegal.
2. Every person who monopolizes, or attempts to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is in violation of the statute.
3. Any person who is injured in his business or property by any other person or corporation by reason of anything forbidden or declared illegal by the act may sue in federal court in the district of the defendant and recover three fold damages.
Fuller concluded that the actions of the union did constitute unlawful combination of the type described in the act: "In our opinion, the combination described in the declaration is a combination 'in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States,' in the sense in which those words are used in the act, and the action can be maintained accordingly."

The union had raised a number of objections to the application of the act to its activities, all of which were found to be untenable by the Court. While the union had not interfered with the transportation of hats originating with Loewe & Co., a national boycott conceived on the initiative of the union which comprised vendees in other states was a violation of interstate commerce as proscribed by the statute:

"If the purposes of the combination were, as alleged, to prevent any interstate transportation at all, the fact that the means operated at one end before physical transportation commenced, and at the other end after the physical transportation ended, was immaterial. And that conclusion rests on many judgments of this court, to the effect that the act prohibits any combination whatever to secure action which essentially obstructs the free flow of commerce between the States, or restricts, in that regard, the liberty of a trader to engage in business."
The fact that the union was not itself engaged in interstate commerce was irrelevant since the act did not distinguish between the types of associations involved but simply forbade every contract, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade. In this regard, Fuller underscored that no exemption had been made for organizations of laborers or farmers, despite lobbying to include such language in the statute:

"The records of Congress show that several efforts were made to exempt, by legislation, organizations of farmers and laborers from the operation of the act, and that all these efforts failed, so that the act remained as we have it before us."
Consequently, while the boycott and strike action had originated in a single state, the combination efforts had to be viewed in aggregation:

" (...) [T]he acts must be considered as a whole, and the plan is open to condemnation notwithstanding a negligible amount of intrastate business might be affected in carrying it out."

The judgment of dismissal was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

In 1909, a new trial was held in the District Court to determine the outcome of the case. The presiding judge directed the jury to find for Loewe & Co. in accordance with the Supreme Court decision. The jury returned with a verdict of $74,000 in damages, which was trebled under the Sherman Act to $222,000. The union won on appeal but then lost on retrial in 1912. The case reached the Supreme Court in 1914, and in Lawlor v. Loewe (1915) the Court again held the union liable for damages. In 1917 the case was settled for slightly over $234,000 (approx. $3.9 million in 2009 currency) of which the AFL was able to obtain $216,000 in voluntary contributions from union members.

The ruling deprived labor unions of an important and effective union tactic, and the decision to hold individual union members personally liable for damages had an adverse impact on union organizing efforts. This led the AFL to initiate an aggressive campaign to convince Congress to address labor concerns about the Sherman Act in the reform of antitrust laws. The push culminated with the passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, which provided that "the labor of a human being is not a commodity or an article of commerce." Section 20 of the act further stated that no injunctions should be granted by federal courts in labor disputes "unless necessary to prevent irreparable injury to property, or to a property right." These provisions, however, were narrowly interpreted by the Supreme Court, which ruled in Duplex Printing Press Company v. Deering (1921) that the exemptions in the Clayton Act did not protect secondary boycotts from judicial control.

Prosecution of labor under antitrust laws would continue until the enactment of the Norris-La Guardia Act in 1932, which included express exemptions of organized labor from antitrust injunctions. These exemptions were upheld by the Supreme Court in United States v. Hutcheson (1941) where it was stated that the act should be read broadly to provide a total antitrust exemption for labor unions, "so long as [the] union acts in its self-interest and does not combine with non-labor groups." The majority opinion in Hutcheson was written by Felix Frankfurter who, before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, had served as one of the drafters of Norris-La Guardia

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Stanford White

Stanford White (November 9, 1853 – June 25, 1906) was an American architect and partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, the frontrunner among Beaux-Arts firms. He designed a long series of houses for the rich, and numerous public, institutional, and religious buildings. His design principles embodied the "American Renaissance".

In 1906, White was murdered by millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw over White's affair with Thaw's wife, actress Evelyn Nesbit, leading to a court case which was dubbed "The Trial of the Century" by contemporary reporters.

White was the son of Shakespearean scholar Richard Grant White and Alexina Black Mease (1830–1921). His father was a dandy and Anglophile with no money, but a great many connections in New York's art world, including painter John LaFarge, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Frederick Law Olmsted.

White had no formal architectural training; he began his career at the age of 18 as the principal assistant to Henry Hobson Richardson, the greatest American architect of the day, creator of a style recognized today as "Richardsonian Romanesque". He remained with Richardson for six years. In 1878, White embarked for a year and a half in Europe, and when he returned to New York in September 1879, he joined Charles Follen McKim and William Rutherford Mead to form McKim, Mead and White. As part of the partnership, all commissions designed by the architects were identified as being the work of the collective firm, not each separate architect.

In 1884, White married twenty-two-year-old Bessie Springs Smith. His new wife hailed from a socially prominent Long Island family; her ancestors were early settlers of the area, and Smithtown, New York was named for them. Their estate, Box Hill was not only a home, but also a showplace illustrating the luxe design aesthetic White offered prospective wealthy clients. A son, Lawrence Grant White, was born in 1887.

In 1889, White designed the triumphal arch at Washington Square, which, according to White's great-grandson, architect Samuel G. White, is the structure White should be best remembered for. White was the director of the Washington Centennial celebration, and created a temporary triumphal arch which was so popular, money was raised to construct a permanent version.

Elsewhere in New York City, White designed the Villard Houses (1884), the second Madison Square Garden (1890; demolished in 1925), the Cable Building – the cable car power station at 611 Broadway – (1893), the New York Herald Building (1894; demolished), the First Bowery Savings Bank, at the intersection of the Bowery and Grand Street (1894), Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square, the Century Club and Madison Square Presbyterian Church, as well as the Gould Memorial Library (1903), originally for New York University, now on the campus of Bronx Community College and the location of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

Outside of New York City, White designed the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland (1887), now Lovely Lane United Methodist Church. He also designed the Cosmopolitan Building, a three-story Neo-classical Revival building topped by three small domes, in Irvington, New York, built in 1895 as the headquarters of Cosmopolitan Magazine. He designed Cocke, Rouss, and Old Cabell halls at the University of Virginia and rebuilt The Rotunda (University of Virginia) in 1898 after it burned down three years earlier (his re-creation was later reverted back to Thomas Jefferson's original design for the United States Bicentennial in 1976). He also designed the Blair Mansion at 7711 Eastern Ave. in Silver Spring, Maryland (1880), now being used as a restaurant. He was responsible for designing the Boston Public Library and the Boston Hotel Buckminster, both still standing today. In 1902, he designed the Benjamin Walworth Arnold House and Carriage House in Albany, New York, and he helped to develop Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower, his last design.

Residential properties
In the division of projects within the firm, the sociable and gregarious White landed the majority of commissions for private houses. His fluent draftsmanship was highly convincing to clients who might not get much visceral understanding from a floorplan, and his intuition and facility caught the mood. White's Long Island houses have survived well, despite the loss of Harbor Hill in 1947, originally set on 688 acres (2.78 km2) in Roslyn. White's Long Island houses are of three types, depending on their locations: Gold Coast chateaux, neo-Colonial structures, especially those in the neighborhood of his own house at "Box Hill" in Smithtown, New York (White's wife was a Smith), and the South Fork houses from Southampton to Montauk Point. He also designed the Kate Annette Wetherill Estate in 1895. White designed a number of other New York mansions as well, including the Iselin family estate "All View" and "Four Chimneys" in New Rochelle. White was also active designing country estate homes in Greenwich, Connecticut. Examples there include the Seaman-Brush House (1900), which is now a bed and breakfast.

Among his Newport, Rhode Island, "cottages", Rosecliff (for Mrs. Hermann Oelrichs, 1898–1902) adapted Mansart's Grand Trianon, but provided this house built for receptions, dinners and dances with fluent spatial planning and well-contrived dramatic internal views en filade.

In his "informal" shingled cottages, there were usually double corridors for separate circulation, so that a guest never bumped into a laundress with a basket of bed linens. Bedrooms were characteristically separated from hallways by a dressing-room foyer lined with closets, so that an inner door and an outer door give superb privacy (still the mark of a really good hotel). White lived the same life as his clients, not quite so lavishly perhaps, and he knew how the house had to perform: like a first-rate hotel, theater foyer, or a theater set with appropriate historical references. White was an apt designer, who was ready to do a cover for Scribner's Magazine or design a pedestal for his friend Augustus Saint-Gaudens' sculpture. He extended the limits of architectural services to include interior decoration, dealing in art and antiques, and even planning and designing parties. He collected paintings, pottery, and tapestries. If White could not procure the right antiques for his interiors, he would sketch neo-Georgian standing electroliers or a Renaissance library table. Outgoing and social, he possessed a large circle of friends and acquaintances, many of whom became clients. White had a major influence in the "Shingle Style" of the 1880s, on Neo-Colonial style, and the Newport cottages for which he is celebrated.

He designed and decorated Fifth Avenue mansions for the Astors, the Vanderbilts (in 1905), and other high society families. His Washington Square Arch still stands in Washington Square Park, and so do many of his clubs, which were focal points of New York society: the Century, Metropolitan, Players, Lambs, Colony and Harmonie clubs. His clubhouse for the Atlantic Yacht Club, built in 1894 overlooking Gravesend Bay, burned down in 1934. Sons of society families also resided in White's St. Anthony Hall Chapter House at Williams College, now occupied by college offices.

Personal life
White, a tall, flamboyant man with red hair and a red mustache, impressed others as witty, kind, and generous. The newspapers frequently described him as "masterful," "intense," "burly yet boyish." A sophisticated collector of all things rare and costly, artwork, and antiquities, White was also a serial seducer of teenage girls. He maintained a multi-story apartment on 24th street in Manhattan with a rear entrance, its interior design intended to fulfill one primary purpose, to function as an opulent, seductive lair where White and his female conquests could "wine and dine" in seclusion. One green hued room was outfitted with a red velvet swing, which hung from the ceiling suspended by ivy-twined ropes. This is where Evelyn Nesbit, a popular chorus girl and model, and other young women "in varying degrees of undress" would provide the entertainment. There are conflicting accounts of whether this swing was in the "Giralda" tower at the old Madison Square Garden, or in the nearby building on 24th street. Most sources seem to concur that the notorious swing was a feature of the 24th Street location.

"The Trial of the Century"

White’s presence at the roof garden theatre of Madison Square Garden on the night of June 25, 1906 had been an impromptu decision. White had originally planned to be in Philadelphia on business; he postponed the trip when his son, Lawrence, made an unexpected visit to New York. They dined at Martin's, near the theatre, where Harry Kendall Thaw and his wife Evelyn Nesbit also dined; Thaw apparently saw White there.

That evening’s theatrical presentation was the premiere performance of Mam'zelle Champagne. During the show’s finale, "I Could Love A Million Girls", Thaw approached White, produced a pistol, and standing some two feet from his target, said "You've ruined my wife", and fired three shots at White, killing him instantly. Part of White’s face was torn away and the rest of his features were unrecognizable, blackened by gunpowder. The initial reaction of the crowd was one of good cheer, as elaborate party tricks among the upper echelon of New York society were common at the time. However, when it became apparent that White was dead, hysteria ensued.

Thaw, a Pittsburgh millionaire, and a man with a history of severe mental instability, was a jealous husband who saw White as his rival. White had seduced Nesbit when she was sixteen and he was forty-seven years old, and in the years following had remained a potent presence in Nesbit's life. However, by the time he was murdered, White had long since moved on to other lovers, and it is conjectured that Stanford White himself was unaware of Thaw’s long-standing vendetta against him. White considered Thaw a poseur of little consequence, categorized him as a clown—and most tellingly, called him the “Pennsylvania pug” – a reference to Thaw’s baby-faced features. The reality was that Thaw both admired and resented White’s social stature. More significantly, he recognized that he and White shared a passion for similar lifestyles. However, unlike Thaw, who had to operate in the shadows, White could carry on without censure, and seemingly, with impunity.

The nineteen-year-old Lawrence Grant White was guilt ridden after his father was slain, blaming himself for his death. “If only he had gone [to Philadelphia]!”  Years later, he would write bitterly, "On the night of June 25th, 1906, while attending a performance at Madison Square Garden, Stanford White was shot from behind [by] a crazed profligate whose great wealth was used to besmirch his victim's memory during the series of notorious trials that ensued." White was buried in St. James, New York.

New York American on June 26th, 1906
News coverage
As early as the morning following the murder, news coverage became both chaotic and single-minded, and ground forward with unrelenting momentum. The newspapers of William Randolph Hearst played up the murder, and it became known as the "Trial of the Century". The rampant interest in the White murder and its key players was used by both the defense and prosecution in Thaw’s murder trial to feed malleable reporters any "scoops" that would give their respective sides an advantage in the public forum.

Any person, place or event, no matter how peripheral to White's murder was seized on by reporters and hyped as newsworthy copy. Facts were thin but sensationalist reportage was plentiful in this, the heyday of tabloid journalism. The hard-boiled male reporters were bolstered by a contingent of female counterparts, christened "Sob Sisters", also known as the "Pity Patrol". Their stock in trade was the human-interest piece, heavy on sentimental tropes and melodrama, crafted to pull on the emotions and punch them up to fever pitch.

Stanford White, in death, was not spared the frenzy of printed invective, which not only excoriated him as a man, but also questioned his professional achievements as architect. The Evening Standard concluded he was “more of an artist than architect,” his work spoke of his “social dissolution.” The Nation was also critical: “…He adorned many an American mansion with irrelevant plunder.” The yellow press used lurid language to demonize White as “a sybarite of debauchery, a man who abandoned lofty enterprises for vicious revels.”

Few friends or associates came forward to publicly defend White. His close friend, sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, was gravely ill and unable to speak out.

Richard Harding Davis, a war correspondent and reputedly the model for the “Gibson Man,” was angered by the tabloid press, which, he was adamant, had distorted the facts. An editorial, which appeared in Vanity Fair, lambasting White and shredding his reputation, prompted Davis to pen his own rebuttal. The article appeared on August 8, 1906 in Collier's magazine:

Since his death White has been described as a satyr. To answer this by saying that he was a great architect is not to answer at all…what is more important is that he was a most kindhearted, most considerate, gentle and manly man, who could no more have done the things attributed to him than he could have roasted a baby on a spit. Big in mind and in body, he was incapable of little meanness. He admired a beautiful woman as he admired every other beautiful thing God has given us; and his delight over one was as keen, as boyish, as grateful over any others.

The autopsy report made public by the coroner’s testimony at the Thaw trial revealed that White was seriously ill at the time of his murder. He in fact would have succumbed shortly to any of the diseases he suffered from: Bright's disease, incipient tuberculosis, and severe liver deterioration.

Fictional portrayals
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing – a 1955 movie in which Ray Milland played White
The 1975 historical fiction novel Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
The musical Ragtime, based on the novel
The 1981 film Ragtime, based on the novel, in which White was played by Norman Mailer, Thaw by Robert Joy, and Nesbit by Elizabeth McGovern
"Dementia Americana" – a long narrative poem by Keith Maillard (1994)
My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon – a play by Don Nigro
La fille coupée en deux ("The Girl Cut in Two") – a 2007 movie by Claude Chabrol