Charles C. Lockwood

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Charles Clapp Lockwood
Charles C Lockwood.jpg
Charles C. Lockwood in 1921
Born (1877-09-02)September 2, 1877
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, United States
Died September 21, 1958(1958-09-21) (aged 81)
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, United States
Nationality American
Occupation New York State Senator; Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Second District
Known for Presiding the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, also known as the Lockwood Committee, investigating rents and housing in New York City after World War I

Charles Clapp Lockwood (September 2, 1877 – September 21, 1958) was an American lawyer and a Republican Party politician from New York. He was a member of the New York State Senate, 1915-22 (4th District 1915-18, 7th District 1919-22) and a Justice of the New York Supreme Court 2nd District, 1932-47. He is probably best known for presiding the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, also known as the Lockwood Committee (1919-1922), investigating rents and housing in New York City after World War I.

Early life[edit]

He was born on September 2, 1877, in Brooklyn, the son of James K. P. Lockwood (1845–1922) and Katherine Marshall Lockwood.[1][2] After working in a drugstore in his boyhood and in a lumber yard, he attended evening high school and eventually graduated in 1900 at the New York Law School.[3] Prior to his graduation he worked as an office boy and clerk in the law office of Jasper W. Gilbert, a former justice at the New York Supreme Court. Eventually, he became an associate of the firm and would remain for 14 years.[3]

In 1908 he established his own law firm. He ran a successful and lucrative practice and became financially independent.[2]

Political career[edit]

Although Justice Gilbert was a Democrat, well connected to the Tammany Hall political machine, Lockwood turned to the Republican Party, and became active in the local Brooklyn Republican clubs.[3] In November 1913, he was elected to the New York State Assembly (Kings Co., 5th D.), and was a member in 1914. The same year he was elected to the New York State Senate, where he sat from 1915 to 1922 in the 138th, 139th, 140th, 141st, 142nd, 143rd, 144th and 145th New York State Legislatures. He drew support from the Citizens Union, one of the United States' first good government groups.[4]

The Republican Lockwood was a prolific legislator. According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle as a senator he "sponsored and passed more big legislation than any two members of that body put together during the corresponding period".[2] As chairman of the New York Senate Committee on Public Education, he introduced legislation such as the Teachers' Salary Increase act, which did much to prevent the breakdown of the school system, due to the failure of teachers' pay to follow the soaring cost of living during the war.[2][5] Because of a nervous breakdown, he was unable to defend the bill in the Senate.[6] The bill advanced nevertheless.[7] He also introduced a bill to sponsor the establishment of kindergartens in public schools.[8] These efforts earned him the support of teachers' unions and the female vote.[9]

Lockwood Committee[edit]

Lockwood headed the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, also known as the Lockwood Committee,[10] that was set up in 1919 to investigate renting and building conditions in the City of New York and ended a spate of rent-raising as a result of the housing shortage after World War I.[3][11][12] The Committee found that the housing conditions at the time constituted a serious menace to public health in New York. There was a shortage of around 80,000 low-priced homes. Some 400,000 persons were directly affected by the scarcity in affordable dwellings and the poor quality of the existing ones.[13][14] The proportion of dwellers per square foot was three to four times that of the pre-War level and considered a "menace to lives, health, morals and safety of the entire community."[15]

The committee uncovered corruption and wrongdoing at every level of the housing industry at a series of hearings and investigations.[16] At the outset landlords who charged tenants usurious rents were in the committee's spotlight, but subsequently labor unions and building material suppliers were found implicated in a racket that inflated housing costs. Banking and insurance practices in the real estate market were also examined and deemed inadequate.[15] Due to the work of the Committee's chief counsel, the consumer rights attorney Samuel Untermyer, the investigation exposed that commercial mortgage lenders charged up fees and expenses worth between 20 percent and 50 percent of the initial loan.[17]

In April 1920, the Committee issued a series of recommendations to diminish the rent spiral, resulting in the passage of twelve laws in the Anti-Rent Profiteering Bill. Property owners opposed the bill because it decreased landlords' unlimited control over property and introduced courts into the up to that time private landlord/tenant relationship. The new laws required that tenants receive 30 days notice before eviction, and also introduced certain strict conditions for eviction.[15] The Committee also made recommendations to stimulate housing construction. New laws granted local authorities the power to use tax incentives to encourage new construction and also allowed municipalities to invest in State Land Bank bonds, in an effort to divert investment capital into much needed housing construction.[15]

The enactment of the laws was only the first stage. The real estate sector saw them as unconstitutional and began a legal fight that would be waged all the way through the State courts and on up to the United States Supreme Court. In defense of the bills he had sponsored and largely helped to draw, Lockwood was actively involved in the litigation. The decision of the highest New York State and Federal courts to uphold the validity of the laws was a severe blow to those who had capitalized for their profit the housing shortage growing out of the war.[2]

Public office[edit]

His tenure as chairman of the Lockwood increased his reputation. At the New York City election, 1921, he ran unsuccessfully on the Republican Coalition ticket for New York City Comptroller. After nine years of public life and citing ill health, he did not seek re-election for a new term in the Senate in 1922, and focused on his family and private law practice.[3][15][18] In 1923, he was considered for a federal judgeship in Brooklyn. However, the business and labor interests that had been under scrutiny of the Lockwood Committee effectively opposed his nomination.[15]

In 1926, he was appointed by Governor Alfred E. Smith to the New York Transit Commission.[19] Lockwood tried to unify the subway system under municipal authority and was a strong proponent of the five-cent fare,[3][20] a contentious issue, which in New York City had become a fundamental right that no politician could oppose without severe political consequences.[21] At the New York state election, 1928, he ran on the Republican ticket for Lieutenant Governor of New York with Albert Ottinger for Governor, but was defeated by Democrat Herbert H. Lehman, who ran with Franklin D. Roosevelt.[3]

Supreme Court Justice[edit]

In 1931, Lockwood was elected a Justice of the New York Supreme Court (2nd D.). He was re-elected in 1945, and retired on December 31, 1947, at the end of the year that he reached the mandatory retirement age.[3][22] After his retirement he continued to act as an official referee for the Court, handling complicated land acquisition cases in which the City of New York was defrauded millions of dollars each year by corrupt officials and crooked lawyers.[3] He resigned in January 1954.[23]

In his final years, Governor Thomas E. Dewey appointed Lockwood as a member of the Temporary Long Island Railroad Commission in 1950, installed after the Richmond Hill train crash that claimed 79 lives,[24] and in 1954 he served as chairman of the Special Legislative Committee on Integrity and Ethical Standards in Government after it was discovered that influential politicians acquired substantial blocks of stock in harness racing tracks and racing associations.[3][25] The Committee proposed the first generally applicable state ethics law in New York.[26] He was associated with the Guggenheimer & Untermyer law firm and was president of the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Law School.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died of a heart attack on September 21, 1958 in Brooklyn, New York City, at the age of 81. He was survived by his second wife, Hilda Bisset Lockwood, and a son John Marshall Lockwood. His first wife, Patricia Bleiler Lockwood, who he had married in 1906, died in 1957.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles Clapp Lockwood, Ancestry.com; retrieved July 14, 2015
  2. ^ a b c d e Lockwood, Republican David, Loosens Housing Sling for Battle With Goliath Hylan, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 28, 1921
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Charles C. Lockwood Dies at 81, The New York Times, September 22, 1958
  4. ^ Citizens Union Senate Choices, The New York Times, October 22, 1916
  5. ^ Lockwood Attacks Hylan, The New York Times, April 13, 1920
  6. ^ Illness of Lockwood Blow To Teachers, The New York Times, April 22, 1920
  7. ^ Still Seeking Plan for Teachers' Rise, The New York Times, April 9, 1920
  8. ^ Favor Kindergarten Bills, The New York Times, April 4, 1920
  9. ^ 5,000 Women Aid Lockwood; Many School Teachers Campaigning for the Senator, The New York Times, October 31, 1921
  10. ^ Fogelson, The Great Rent Wars, p. 29
  11. ^ Fine, Without Blare of Trumpets, p. 189
  12. ^ 43 Companies Agree To Drop Monopoly Of Fire Insurance, The New York Times, June 8, 1921
  13. ^ Finds City Short 80,000 Homes For 400,000 Residents, The New York Times, January 31, 1922
  14. ^ New York State (1922). Intermediate report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, Legislative document (1922) no. 60, State of New York, p.7
  15. ^ a b c d e f New York State Legislature, Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. Retrieved July 15, 2015
  16. ^ Housing Shortage As Bad Now As Ever, Witnesses Testify, The New York Times, January 6, 1922
  17. ^ This month in real estate history - 1921: State committee unearths NYC commercial mortgage abuse, The Real Deal, May 31, 2011
  18. ^ Lockwood Retires from Public Life; Chairman of Housing Committee Will Not Seek Re-election to the Senate, The New York Times, July 1, 1922
  19. ^ New Transit Board Takes Office Today, The New York Times, May 1, 1926
  20. ^ Lockwood Opposes Miller Transit Plan, The New York Times, October 14, 1921
  21. ^ Roess & Sansone, The Wheels That Drove New York, p. 199
  22. ^ Work Well Done, The New York Times, December 19, 1947
  23. ^ Lockwood In Law Firm; Justice and Referee Retired From Supreme Court Friday, The New York Times, January 4, 1954
  24. ^ Dewey Asks State Control of Long Island Road, Geneva Daily Times, March 8, 1951
  25. ^ Harness Racing and New York’s Ethics Laws, Albany Law School. Retrieved: July 17, 2015
  26. ^ New York State Bar Association Task Force on Government Ethics Report, January 28, 2011

Sources[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Vincent A. O'Connor
New York State Assembly
Kings County, 5th District

1914
Succeeded by
Fred G. Milligan, Jr.
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Henry P. Velte
New York State Senate
4th District

1915–1918
Succeeded by
Kenneth F. Sutherland
Preceded by
Daniel J. Carroll
New York State Senate
7th District

1919–1922
Succeeded by
John A. Hastings
Party political offices
Preceded by
Seymour Lowman
Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of New York
1928
Succeeded by
Caleb H. Baumes