George Howard Paul

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George Howard Paul (March 14, 1826 – 1890) was an American newspaperman, businessman and Democratic politician who served one term as a member of the Wisconsin State Senate representing its 6th District in Milwaukee County; and held various other offices of honor locally and in the government of the state of Wisconsin.[1]

Background[edit]

Paul was born in Danville in Caledonia County, Vermont on March 14, 1826; graduated from the University of Vermont, 1847; attended Harvard Law School (but did not graduate) and was subsequently admitted to the bar. He worked in newspaper journalism, and served as postmaster of Burlington, Vermont in 1849.

Move to Wisconsin, and departure[edit]

Paul had some unsuccessful business ventures, and moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1851 to escape his creditors. He purchased the Kenosha Democrat in 1851, which he published through 1854. He was assistant clerk of the Wisconsin Senate in 1853; held the patronage post of postmaster of Kenosha from 1853 to 1861; was mayor of Kenosha from 1856–1858 and a member of the Kenosha County board of supervisors in 1857. When the Republicans won the 1860 election, Paul moved briefly to New York City, where he worked for the New York Daily News in 1861 before returning to Wisconsin.

Move to Milwaukee[edit]

He settled in Milwaukee, and found a job on the editorial staff of the Milwaukee Daily News. In 1862, with the financial backing of Alexander Mitchell, Paul and J. M. Lyon purchased the newspaper, and Paul served as editor until 1881, when the News changed hands and became the Daily Republican and News (it would eventually merge into the Milwaukee Sentinel.[2]

Paul became a major figure in Wisconsin politics. He was a delegate to many Democratic National Conventions, served on the Democratic National Committee (1864–1868 and again 1872-1876), and was chairman of the state party executive committee (1872–1874). He was the campaign manager for William Robert Taylor's coalition of Democrats, reform Republicans, and Grangers (the "Reform party"), which secured the election of Taylor as Governor in 1873, even though Paul was known as a "railroad" man. He and Taylor upheld the "Potter Law" (regulating the freight rates charged by railroads, a central concern of the Grangers) when the law was challenged by Mitchell. Paul Wisconsin served as Taylor's man as the Wisconsin Railroad Commissioner from 1874–1876 and worked out a compromise with Mitchell, but the reform coalition was nonetheless defeated in the 1875 election and the Potter Law was repealed. However, Paul's reconciliation with Mitchell insured his personal political and financial future.

He was also involved in educational politics and policy. He was a member of the Milwaukee Board of School Commissioners (school board) in 1870, then superintendent of public schools from 1870-1871. He was first appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin in February 1874, served as its president from February 1875 through October 1877, and was re-appointed as a regent in 1879. Despite his own political activism, he is credited with doing important work to free the institution from political control and securing greater state support for the University.

Senator[edit]

He was elected as a Democratic and Greenbacker candidate for state senator in 1877 to succeed fellow Democrat John L. Mitchell (Alexander Mitchell's son) in the Sixth District (the 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th Wards of the city of Milwaukee, and the towns of Franklin, Greenfield, Lake and Oak Creek), with 2464 votes to 1664 for Republican David Vance. He was re-elected senator on November 4, 1879, receiving 2336 votes to 2101 for Republican Assemblyman David J. Price. He was not a candidate for re-election in 1881, and was succeeded by Democrat Enoch Chase.

Back to business[edit]

With Alexander Mitchell's backing, Paul had established the Milwaukee Cement Co. in 1875. He was postmaster of Milwaukee from 1885–1889, and a member of the city's charter convention in 1887. In 1889 he became involved in disputes with his former associates over Milwaukee Cement, was defeated in a lawsuit, and moved to Kansas City, Missouri where he died a few months later.

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