Jacob Collamer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jacob Collamer
JCollamer2.jpg
Daguerreotype by Mathew Brady
13th United States Postmaster General
In office
March 8, 1849 – July 22, 1850
Preceded by Cave Johnson
Succeeded by Nathan K. Hall
Personal details
Born (1791-01-08)January 8, 1791
Troy, New York, U.S.
Died November 9, 1865(1865-11-09) (aged 74)
Woodstock, Vermont, U.S.
Political party Whig, Republican
Spouse(s) Mary N. Stone
Children Elisabeth
Harriet
Mary
Edward
Ellen
Frances
William
Alma mater University of Vermont
Profession Lawyer
Judge
Religion Congregational[1]

Jacob Collamer (January 8, 1791 – November 9, 1865) was an American politician from Vermont. He served in the United States House of Representatives, as Postmaster General in the cabinet of President Zachary Taylor, and as a United States Senator.

Early life[edit]

Jacob Collamer was born in Troy, New York on January 8, 1791. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Vermont, studied law in St. Albans, Vermont, was admitted to the bar in 1813, and served as an officer in a militia unit during the War of 1812.[2]

In 1816 he moved to Royalton, Vermont, to open a law practice. He remained a resident of Royalton for twenty years, practicing law in partnership with Judge James Barrett. He also served in local offices, including Register of Probate, Windsor County State’s Attorney, and member of the Vermont House of Representatives. From 1833 to 1842 Collamer was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont. In 1836 he moved to Woodstock.[3]

From 1839 to 1845 Collamer was a Trustee of the University of Vermont.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1842 as a Whig, Collamer served three terms, 1843 to 1849. He opposed the extension of slavery, annexation of Texas, and Mexican-American War, supported high tariffs to favor American manufacturers, and received national recognition for his "Wools and Woolens" speech on tariffs.[5][6]

During his House tenure Collamer was Chairman of the Committee on Manufactures (Twenty-eighth Congress) and the Committee on Public Lands (Thirtieth Congress).

Postmaster General[edit]

Collamer served as Postmaster General under President Zachary Taylor. Appointed at the start of Taylor's administration in 1849, he held office until resigning in July, 1850. Collamer resigned shortly after Taylor's death, enabling incoming President Millard Fillmore to name his own appointee. As Postmaster General, Collamer was criticized by Whig partisans, who advocated the spoils system, because he was reluctant to remove local Democratic postmasters en masse.[7]

Upon returning to Vermont, Collamer was appointed a Judge of the state Circuit Court, where he served until 1854.[8]

Collamer was a longtime Trustee of and Lecturer at the Vermont Medical College in Woodstock, and served as President of the Board of Trustees.[9]

United States Senator[edit]

In 1855 Collamer was elected to the Senate as a conservative, anti-slavery Republican. In his first term Collamer was Chairman of the Committee on Engrossed Bills (Thirty-fourth Congress).

In 1856 Collamer received several votes for Vice President at the Republican National Convention.[10]

He defended his positions vigorously even when in the minority. As a member of the Committee on Territories, chaired by Stephen A. Douglas, Collamer and James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin refused to vote for the Crittenden Amendment, which proposed resubmitting for popular vote the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution for Kansas, instead crafting a persuasive minority report explaining their opposition.[11]

Collamer also represented the minority view in June, 1860 when the committee chaired by James Murray Mason issued its report concerning John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Mason argued that Brown's raid was the work of an organized abolitionist movement which needed to be curtailed with federal authority. Collamer and Doolittle countered that Brown and his followers had been caught and punished, and that further government action was not necessary.[12]

Collamer's years on the bench helped develop his reputation as the best lawyer in the Senate. His colleagues were known to pay close attention to his remarks on the Senate floor, even though he spoke infrequently and did not speak loudly enough to reach the entire chamber or the galleries. Charles Sumner referred to Collamer as the "Green-Mountain Socrates."[13]

Civil War[edit]

At the 1860 Republican National Convention Collamer received the favorite son votes of Vermont's delegates, and withdrew after the first ballot.[14] Reelected to the Senate in 1861, he served until his death.[15]

In 1861 Collamer authored the bill which invested the President with new war powers and gave Congressional approval to the war measures Abraham Lincoln had taken under his own authority at the start of his administration.[16]

Collamer was the lead Senator of nine Republicans who visited Lincoln in 1862, determined to effect a change in the composition of his cabinet by persuading him to replace Secretary of State William Henry Seward. Having been encouraged to confront Lincoln by claims to Senators of cabinet disharmony from Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, the Senators changed their minds during the meeting after Chase was maneuvered by Lincoln into backtracking on his claims.[17]

Again a member of the majority once Democrats left the Senate during the war, Collamer was Chairman of the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads (Thirty-seventh through Thirty-ninth Congresses) and the Committee on the Library (Thirty-eighth and Thirty-ninth Congresses).

After the war Collamer opposed the Reconstruction Plan of President Abraham Lincoln, and was an advocate of congressional control over the process of readmitting former Confederate states to the Union.

Death and burial[edit]

Collamer died at his home in Woodstock on November 9, 1865. He was buried in Woodstock's River Street Cemetery.[18][19]

Awards and honors[edit]

Collamer received honorary LL.D. degrees from the University of Vermont in 1850 and Dartmouth College in 1855.[20]

In 1881, the state of Vermont donated a marble statue of Collamer created by Preston Powers to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection. Each state is represented by two statues, and Vermont's are likenesses of Collamer and Ethan Allen.[21][22]

Home[edit]

Collamer's home at 40 Elm Street in Woodstock is part of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park's Civil War Home Front Walking Tour.[23][24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ University of Vermont, University of Vermont Obituary Record, Volume 1, 1895, pages 23-24
  2. ^ James V. Marshall, The United States Manual of Biography and History, 1856, page 613
  3. ^ O. M. Tinkham, The Vermonter magazine, Jacob Collamer, July 1900, page 234
  4. ^ University of Vermont, Catalogue of the University of Vermont, 1890, page 9
  5. ^ John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand, Ralph H. Orth, editors, The Vermont Encyclopedia, 2003, page 91
  6. ^ James Barrett, Memorial Address on the Life and Character of the Hon. Jacob Collamer, 1866, page 13
  7. ^ K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest, 1993, page 262
  8. ^ Charles C. Little and James Brown (Boston), The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge for the Year 1852, 1851, page 234
  9. ^ University of Vermont, University of Vermont Obituary Record, Volume 1, pages 23-24
  10. ^ Republican National Committee, Proceedings of the First Three Republican National Conventions, 1893, pages 63-64
  11. ^ Mary Louise Kelly, Woodstock Historical Society, Woodstock's U.S. Senator: Jacob Collamer, 1944, page 17
  12. ^ West Virginia Culture and History, Senate Select Committee Report on the Harper’s Ferry Invasion, retrieved December 17, 2013
  13. ^ Allan G. Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate, 1981, page 32
  14. ^ The Vermonter magazine, Incidents in the Life of Lincoln, January 1909, page 5
  15. ^ William Lloyd Garrison, The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, 1976, page 397
  16. ^ Jacob G. Ullery, Men of Vermont Illustrated, 1894, pages 121-124
  17. ^ Chester G. Hearn, Lincoln, the Cabinet, and the Generals, 2010, pages 139-143
  18. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Addresses on the Death of Senator Jacob Collamer, 1866, pages 61-62
  19. ^ Robert I. Vexler, The Vice-Presidents and Cabinet Members: Biographies Arranged Chronologically by Administration, Volume 1, 1975, page 185
  20. ^ University of Vermont, University of Vermont Obituary Record, Volume 1, 1895, pages 23-24
  21. ^ United States Congress, Joint Committee on the Library, Legislation Creating the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol, 1916, page 25
  22. ^ Glenn Brown, Glenn Brown's History of the United States Capitol, 1900, page 530
  23. ^ National Park Service, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, Civil War Home Front Walking Tour, retrieved December 17, 2013
  24. ^ Patricia Harris and David Lyon, Boston Globe, Civil War History Still Breathes Down the Years, July 11, 2010

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Cave Johnson
United States Postmaster General
Served under: Zachary Taylor

March 8, 1849 – July 22, 1850
Succeeded by
Nathan K. Hall
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Slade
Member from Vermont's 2nd congressional district
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1849
Succeeded by
William Hebard
United States Senate
Preceded by
Lawrence Brainerd
Senator from Vermont (Class 3)
March 4, 1855 – November 9, 1865
Served alongside: Solomon Foot
Succeeded by
Luke P. Poland