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Full text of "Address by Alton B. Parker, in memoriam David Bennett Hill; delivered at the joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly in the capitol at Albany, July 6, 1911"

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JULY 6, 1911 

Address by Alton B. Parker, delivered at the Joint 

Meeting of the Senate and Assembly, at the Assembly 

Chamber, in the Capitol, Albany, July sixth, nineteen hun- 

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r s and 
5h the 

xxx^, ^j -~ ir- -; the 

public interests. We would find in his early life incidents 
of great human interest and giving large promise of the 
usefulness ^hich followed. But those years of his life 
were after all very like the youthful years of the thou 
sands in this country who began life on the farm or on 
the tow-path, in the house by the woods or in the village 
home, securing their early education under disadvan 
tageous circumstances, but persevering ever. Among the 
men who have thus wrested a career from fortune will 
be found multitudes ministering in every profession, 
countless others serving in public station, and not a few 
who have ultimately attained the Presidency of the United 


Address by Alton B. Parker, delivered at the Joint 
Meeting of the Senate and Assembly, at the Assembly 
Chamber, in the Capitol, Albany, July sixth, nineteen hun 
dred and eleven, at eight p. m., called to commemorate the 
services of the Honorable David Bennett Hill to his party, 
his State and his country, Governor Dix presiding. 

In surveying the life and services of David Bennett 
Hill we will pass over Ms boyhood and student days and 
the earlier years in his chosen profession, to reach the 
more expeditiously the full, rich years devoted to the 
public interests. We would find in his early life incidents 
of great human interest and giving large promise of the 
usefulness which followed. But those years of his life 
were after all very like the youthful years of the thou 
sands in this country who began life on the farm or on 
the tow-path, in the house by the woods or in the village 
home, securing their early education under disadvan 
tageous circumstances, but persevering ever. Among the 
men who have thus wrested a career from fortune will 
be found multitudes ministering in every profession, 
countless others serving in public station, and not a few 
who have ultimately attained the Presidency of the United 



A student of men, well grounded in the principles of 
the law, of wide reading and experience in their applica 
tion, ever alert and watchful of the opposition, and loyal 
to the last degree to every cause he espoused he soon 
reached the front rank of the profession and there re 
mained until his tasks were ended. 

The work of his late years was compensated for by 
vastly larger fees than that of the earlier. 

Interesting as would be a review of his professional 
life, it must not be allowed to trespass upon a considera 
tion of his public career. That occupied seventeen years 
of his life, when his powers were at their best. It in 
cluded a longer service as Governor than that of any since 
Governor DeWitt Clinton. 


In the Douglas campaign at the age of seventeen 
years he manifested a keen appreciation of the impor 
tant duties of citizenship in a political address at Cayuta, 
Schuyler County. The comment of the county papers was 
to the effect that the speech indicated very considerable 

Little did the writers think that this boy was to speak 
in behalf of the Democratic party in every campaign save 
ono from eighteen hundred and sixty to nineteen hundred 
and eight, inclusive, and that in at least two Democratic 
Presidential Conventions the honor of leadership on the 
floor of the convention would be nearly equally divided 
between another and himself, and that in still another his 
own and other States should press his nomination for the 

At the age of twenty-seven he was sent to the Legis- 

lature from Chemung County, becoming a member of the 
Committees on Judiciary, Railroads and Elections. He 
introduced a bill to abolish contract labor in prisons. It 
failed of passage, but such an act was passed while he 
was Governor, receiving his approval. 

He was returned to the Legislature the following 
year, serving on the same committees. He and Samuel 
J. Tilden were the only Democratic members of the Judi 
ciary Committee, and they took part in the impeachment 
of Judge Barnard. 

Assemblymen Tilden and Hill became confirmed 
friends, the younger member giving to Mr. Tilden and 
his leadership enthusiastic and effective support. As 
Governor Mr. Tilden appointed Mr. Hill a member of 
the commission to prepare a uniform charter for cities, 
but he was unable to accept. 

Mr. Tilden said of him in eighteen hundred and sev 
enty-six, "He is the most promising young Democrat in 
the country to-day, and in eighteen hundred and eighty- 
five, although in feeble health, he gave out an interview 
in support of Mr. Hill s candidacy for Governor. 

Indeed, in eighteen hundred and eighty-two Mr. Til 
den desired him to be the candidate for Governor, but 
instead Mr. Hill sought the nomination for Lieutenant- 
Governor, and gave his support to the nomination of 
Grover Cleveland for Governor. 

Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Hill were then the Mayors 
of their respective cities, and their nominations for Gov 
ernor and Lieutenant-Governor were ratified by majori 
ties approximating one hundred and ninety-two thousand. 


The election, of Mr. Cleveland to the Presidency in 
eighteen hundred and eighty-four was followed by his 

resignation as Governor on the sixth of January, eighteen 
hundred and eighty-five. 

Governor Hill s subsequent election for a term of 
three years in November, eighteen hundred and eighty- 
five, was followed by a re-election for a like term in 
eighteen hundred and eighty-eight. But the defeat in 
this State at the same time of the Democratic Presiden 
tial electors was a sore grief to him. Aside from his 
earnest desire for the success of the party, he had and 
rightly so an ambition for eighteen hundred and ninety- 
two, and no one realized more clearly than he that his 
only hope for such preferment would be buried by the 
defeat of Mr. Cleveland s electors in this State. 

With all his energy and ability, upon the platform 
and otherwise, in this and in other States he appealed 
to the people for the success of the national ticket. 

Mr. Cleveland understood the situation, and thus 
expressed himself subsequently: 

"I want you some time to correct the false impres 
sion abroad that I either have, or had, any idea or im 
pression that the Presidential ticket was the victim of 
treachery in New York in the election of eighteen hun 
dred and eighty-eight. Nobody could understand better 
than I how that seemingly contradictory result was 
reached. My campaign for re-election was, of necessity, 
made upon a single national issue so forced to the front 
that, as I had foreseen, there was no such thing as evading 
it, even if my party or myself had so desired. 

"On the other hand, the State campaign had issues 
peculiar to itself, with their own supporters, men to whom 
the tariff had, from a business and political point of view, 
only the remotest interest. The brewers had their own 
organization for the purpose of protecting the property 

under their management and jurisdiction. They had the 
right to use their power for their own protection, and 
that they exercised this right and power in their own 
way in no way constituted a grievance so far as the 
Presidential ticket was concerned. If they could attract 
votes from a weak and unpopular Republican candidate 
supposed to be inimical to them to his opponent who 
would be fair because he was strong, they had a perfect 
right to do so. I had had sufficient experience in State 
politics to understand the whole situation and never per 
mitted myself to reproach Governor Hill or his friends 
for the untoward result so far as I was personally con 

"I have never ceased to admire and praise Governor 
Hill for his clean, high-minded administration of the 
affairs of the great State of New York. It kept down 
taxation, and was efficient in carrying out the traditional 
ideas of his party and our institutions. 

Nevertheless, there were those within the party who, 
without evidence to support it, and against the over 
whelming weight of evidence to the contrary, charged 
disloyalty on Governor Hill s part. The injustice of it 
was hard to bear, but it was borne silently and uncom 
plainingly, as was his wont. 


It was his rule never to answer an attack, however 

The consciousness that he had done right for right s 
sake was sufficient for him. Let others falsely assign a 
bad reason for wise action or charge non-action when 
he had, in fact, acted, if they would answer he would 

Let me cite an instance, verified by the original letters 
now in the possession of his executors : 

Holding Judge Isaac H. Maynard in high esteem as 
a man of ability, integrity of purpose and spotless honor ; 
believing, as he did, that the later in openly reclaiming 
the Dutchess County election returns, before office hours, 
from the Comptroller, by the direction of the County 
Clerk, who had mistakenly mailed them was both legal 
and proper ; and, further, being sure that the attack upon 
the Judge was solely for the purpose of delivering a blow 
at himself over Judge Maynard s shoulder; nevertheless, 
on October fourth, eighteen hundred and ninety-three, he 
wrote the Judge a long letter, which he sent him by spe 
cial messenger, advising that "in view of the evidence 
of opposition " he " retire for the sake of harmony. The 
letter closes with this sentence : 

"This is the most painful letter I ever penned but 
believe me still, your sincere friend." 

The day following Judge Maynard replied, declining 
to accept Mr. Hill s advice. His letter concluded as fol 

"I know that you would not advise or suggest any 
thing you did not believe to be for my good and for the 
party s good, but I am also sure that you would not ex 
pect me to take a step which I could never regard without 
a sense of humiliation and shame, and which in my judg 
ment would cause me the loss of my own self-respect, and 
the respect of my friends." 

The defeat of the party in the election of eighteen 
hundred and ninety-three was followed by a bitter as 
sault upon Mr. Hill, the charge, in effect, being that 

against the judgment of the other party leaders he had 
forced the nomination of Judge Maynard ; that his course 
was prompted by selfishness, and was in entire disregard 
of the rights and interests of the party. But not a word 
of denial or explanation came from him. 

In eighteen hundred and ninety-four, against his ear 
nest protest, he was again nominated for Governor. Pub 
lic prints and speeches repeated then the charge of party 
misconduct in forcing the nomination of Judge Maynard. 

On the twenty- third of October, eighteen hundred and 
ninety-four, Judge Maynard wrote Senator Hill a letter, 
enclosing the letter of advice Senator Hill wrote him on 
October fourth, eighteen hundred and ninety-three. The 
Judge s letter concluded as follows : I herewith enclose 
the same, for such use as in your judgment may be most 

Still he did not publish it, and went down to political 
defeat for the first time in his life, and without a murmur. 

It may be that his great affection for Judge Maynard 
contributed toward his decision, but the fact remains 
that his course in this instance was in line with his settled 
policy not to answer those who misrepresented him, or 
accused him of doing that which he ought not to have done 
or leaving undone that which he ought to have done. 

Other interesting illustrations could be given did time 

Personally, I know of but one exception to this rule 
of silence. As that had to do with a matter of profes 
sional ethics, he brought it to the attention of the State 
Bar Association. Their investigation resulted in his com 
plete vindication. 

I am of the opinion that it would have been the part 
of wisdom to have occasionally strangled the libels his 
enemies created to his injury. But it must be admitted 

that his patient sufferance indicates great strength of 
character and full confidence that "Truth, crushed to 
earth, shall rise again, " or, as he said, in professional 
phrase, * It will come out all right in the summing up. 


In his first message, addressed to a Legislature in 
political oppostion, he said: 

The people demand better government, purer meth 
ods and higher aims, and whatever party gives the best 
evidence of the honest fulfillment of such purposes will 
receive their confidence and approval. 

Frugal himself, it is easy to understand how it hap 
pened that he set himself the task of preventing waste 
and extravagance in the expenditure of public funds. 

His efforts were successful. How thoroughly suc 
cessful the people came to appreciate last year when com 
parison was made between the expenditures under his 
administration and those of his several successors. 

As we take up each year the two or more volumes 
of the session laws which embody the work of the Leg 
islature, we are like to wonder if it can be really true 
that during Governor Hill s administration there was but 
a volume a year. Examination discloses that our recollec 
tion is exact. 

It was due, however, not to the Legislature, but to 
the Governor. 

He waged war without ceasing against unnecessary 
as well as bad legislation. He sought not credit for this 
strenuous service, but rendered it in the public interest 
as his duty of course. 

Instead of writing a stinging veto of an unnecessary 


or unworthy bill, thus wounding the introducer who 
quite likely acted without fully appreciating the character 
of the measure he sent for him, pointed out the objec 
tion, and suggested that the introducer might like to recall 
the bill. If the member decided not to do so, the veto 

In other words, he did not try to make political capital 
for himself at the expense of other members of the State 
Government. A right result was his only aim. 


Partisan he was, of vigorous and rigorous type. His 
party attachment and loyalty is well told in one speech in 
the Senate, in which he said : 

i i Born of a Democratic ancestry, reared under Demo 
cratic teachings, a public life devoted to building up and 
strengthening the party whose principles I have always 
zealously espoused, my interests, my sympathies, my 
hopes and my aspirations are all within party lines/ 

He believed that the Democratic party was most sorely 
needed in the conduct of the National Government, and 
that it was his duty as well as that of every man enter 
taining a like belief to contribute his best effort to that 
result. Party organization with the power to administer 
discipline seemed to him absolutely essential. But this 
principle of party government in his judgment ought not 
to be invoked as to the judiciary. 

He believed it of the highest public import that the 
courts should deserve and have the perfect confidence of 
all the people, and that one means to that end is to have 
the appellate courts as nearly evenly divided as possible 
as to party faith. 


As always with him, his creed was father to his prac 
tice. And when the responsibility came of appointing 
seven Supreme Court Justices to constitute the Second 
Division of the Court of Appeals, he carried the principle 
to a generous extreme. 

He could have created a court with a majority of Dem 
ocrats. Instead he appointed four Eepublicans and three 

When Judge Potter left the court the opportunity 
again occurred to make the court Democratic, but he re 
garded Mr. Justice Landon, Eepublican, best equipped 
of the available Supreme Court Justices, by reason of 
his long service in the General Term; so to him the 
appointment went. 

So, too, did he appoint Eepublicans to fill vacancies 
caused by death or resignation of Supreme Court Jus 
tices chosen by that party. And his selections were rati 
fied by the nomination of both parties, and subsequent 
election by the people. 

As a party leader he gave effective support to the 
adoption of that which has now become settled custom : 
that all worthy, able and efficient judges should have re 
election without party opposition. 

As Governor it fell to him to appoint a large com 
mission to revise the Judiciary Article of the Constitu 
tion. He selected its members from the leaders of the 
bar of the State, eliminating no man because of his per 
sonal or political opposition, and giving to each party 
equal representation. 

It will not be claimed, I think, that his record as 
respects the judiciary has a parallel in the history of the 



The purely administrative duties of the Governor 
were performed by him with that painstaking care, anx 
ious attention to detail and energy in execution which 
characterized whatever he undertook. 

For instance : Once every year he visited the prisons. 
It was neither a junketing excursion nor an idle ceremony. 
He notified the warden long in advance of his coming that 
he would personally hear any application for pardon that 
was deemed worthy of consideration. In most cases the 
applicant s appeal was dismissed at the end of an exami 
nation in the conduct of which all the skill and ability of 
the Governor was employed to ascertain the truth. 

Instances there were, however, which led to an investi 
gation outside the prison which disclosed either miscar 
riage of justice or excess of punishment, and a pardon 

Like thoroughness he employed in every branch of 
his administrative work. 

Some of the multitude of things accomplished by legis 
lative action but due to his initiative and recommendation 

The substitution of electrocution for hanging. 

Institution of Labor Day and the Saturday half holi 

Insurance of the right of religious liberty in public 

Grant to the Executive of power to appoint a referee 
to take testimony on applications for pardon. 

Creation of the Statutory Revision Commission. 

Expediting of the final dispositon of murder cases 
by permitting direct appeal to Court of Appeals. 

Establishment of the Forest Preserve, and creation 
of a commission to have general supervision thereof. 


Institution of State Arbitration for disputes between 
employer and employee. 

Limitation of preferences under General Assignments 
to one-third of estate. 

Eepeal of acts superseded by Penal and Criminal 

Provision for organization, supervision and adminis 
tration of trust companies. 

Inauguration of industrial training in schools. 

Creation of Commission for Promotion of Uniformity 
of Legislation in the United States. 

Establishment of County Eoads, the predecessors of 
our State Roads. 

Amendment of the Civil Service Law by giving a 
preference to veterans of the Civil War. 

The originating of legislation against child labor in 
this State. 

Prohibition of electioneering within one hundred and 
fifty feet of the polls and the institution of voting booths. 

Amendment to Penal Code requiring candidates to file 
statement of expenses ten days after election. 

Statutory direction to certain classes of corporations 
to make weekly payment of wages and salary. 


Having completed, on the thirty-first day of Decem 
ber, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, his term as Gover 
nor, he immediately entered upon his duties as United 
States Senator, to which office he had been elected in the 
preceding January. 

During the greater portion of his term he served as 


Chairman of the Committee on Immigration, and as mem 
ber of the Judiciary, Fisheries, Organization of Execu 
tive Department, and other committees. 

With his accustomed energy he grappled with the 
work before his committees, bringing to bear upon it his 
well-trained mind and wide knowledge of law and affairs. 
He was soon known to his associates as an indefatigable 
and effective working member. 

In time they came to know that New York s Senator 
was the most effective debater that had represented his 
State since the days of Conkling. 


Some of his then associates are of the opinion that 
everything considered the most masterful of all his 
arguments were made in the great debate on the Income 
Tax features of the Wilson Bill. It is unquestioned that 
no other speeches on that subject were comparable to his. 

He began the first speech by entering the protest of 
New York. He p ointed out that under the war emergency 
income tax New York had furnished thirty per cent, of 
the total revenues derived from that tax, challenged proof 
that its proportion would be less under the bill proposed, 
and declared it to be unjust and sectional in its design and 

Presenting fifteen objections, some of them general 
and others special, he made vigorous argument in sup 
port of each. 

The first speech was made April ninth, eighteen hun 
dred and ninety-four; the last July third. And in the 
meantime several long and careful addresses were deliv 

Securing by amendment the exemption from taxation 


of income from bonds of the United States, he followed 
with an attempt to secure like exemption of the income 
from State bonds. But this effort was of no avail. 

He charged the bill to be unjust and indefensible in 
its discriminations in that it necessarily exempted the 
income from six hundred and thirty-five millions of Fed 
eral bonds, but denied like exemption to State bonds. 

Then followed a masterly argument to the effect that 
so much of the tax as is levied upon income derived from 
bonds issued by municipal corporations was a tax upon 
the power of the State and its instrumentalities to bor 
row money, and consequently was repugnant to the Con 
stitution of the United States. 

In the first decision in the Pollack case (157 U. S., 429) 
the United States Supreme Court completely sustained 
his position. 

His legal arguments in support of his assignments of 
unconstitutionality as to separate features of the bill, as 
well as to the bill as a whole, captured the interest and 
the admiration of the bar of the country. 

Unmatched in the debate, he was, nevertheless, over 
borne in the vote. 

Immediately a contest was determined upon, an effort 
was made to retain the Senator to argue the case in the 
Supreme Court of the United States. A large retainer 
was offered, but he would not accept it, although he hoped 
and believed his position would be vindicated by the 
Court. His reason was that while he had no hesitation 
in telling his brother Senators to their faces his view of 
their proposed legisation, it seemed quite a different 
matter to him and somewhat indelicate to denounce their 
action however diplomatically before the Court. 

So the pleasure was not his of presenting the argu 
ment to the Supreme Court, But he had great satisfac- 


tion in the decision, not only because it sustained his view 
of the unconstitutionally of the provisions, but also be 
cause in his judgment a wise governmental position was 


The world is full of men whose eyes are not blinded by 
closest friendship or dearest kinship. These see and 
point out the fault that shows perfection uriattained. 

Barer the man with sense so keen that the fair quali 
ties of his enemy are visible to him. Senator Hill was 
one of these. And he freely and fairly acknowledged 
admirable trait and worthy deed. 


In eighteen ninety-four, during the heat of the sum 
mer and of the legislative debate on the Wilson Tariff 
Bill, President Cleveland sent a letter to the Chairman 
of the Committee of Ways and Means in the House. 
The letter criticized adversely certain provisions of the 
pending measure. It provoked a volley of protest from 
most of the Democratic leaders in the Senate, they cen 
suring it as an impropriety. 

Wide as was the breech between the President and 
Senator Hill, the latter came to the defense of President 
Cleveland and stood alone against the storm raging 
against him. 

He said, in part : " I am not the defender of the Presi 
dent ordinarily. I have received no favors at his hands, 
as you and the country well know. I have my political 
grievances. I differ with him on interparty policy, espe 
cially on political matters in my own State. * * * 
But I think * * * in this particular it is my duty, 


and I am broad-minded and liberal enough to defend him 
when he is unjustly attacked/ 

Of those who attacked the President were Senator 

Vest of Missouri, who made the first speech, Senator 

J^ Gorman of Maryland, Senator Jones of Arkansas 

Senator Voorhees of Indiana and Senator Harris of 


Senator Hill, in closing his defense, said : 

"I am reminded how, years ago, a senatorial cabal 
conspired to assassinate the great Roman Emperor. If 
I were disposed to make comparisons, I might speak of 
the distinguished Senator from Maryland as the lean 
and hungry Cassius. You recollect what Caesar said of 
him. He said : 

He thinks too much; such men are dangerous. 

"I might speak of the Senator from Arkansas as 
Marcus Brutus Honest Brutus. * Casca was 

the distinguished Senator who struck the first blow last 
Friday. Trebonius, the Senator from Indiana testy, 
probably a little petulant good Trebonius. Metellus 
Cimber, the distinguished Senator from Tennessee. * * * 

"When yesterday they stabbed at our President and 
sought to strike him down, they made the same plea as 
did the conspirators of old, that they struck for Eome 
for their country. They said they did it hot that they 
loved Cassar less, but that they loved Eome more; not 
that they loved the President less, but they loved their 
party and this Senate bill more. I can say with Mark 
Antony : 

" What private griefs they have, alas, I know not, 
That made them do it; they are wise and honorable. " 


On January third, eighteen hundred and ninety- six, 
Senator Hill, while temporarily presiding in the Senate, 
made a ruling which added greatly to his reputation 
as a parliamentarian, furnished another illustration of 
the rapidity of his mental processes, and relieved the 
Administration from threatened embarrassment. 

At the time the Federal treasury had not sufficient 
gold on hand to promptly meet the obligations which 
the credit of the Nation required should be paid in that 
coin^ and the Administration was considering a bond 

After the assembling of the Senate at noon on Fri 
day, January third, a motion was carried that at the 
close of the day the Senate adjourn to Tuesday, January 

The Vice-President called Senator Hill to the chair 
and left for the day. 

Then followed an extended speech by Senator Sher 
man on the financial situation. At its conclusion Senator 
Butler (Populist) of North Carolina asked for the pres 
ent consideration of a bill which he had theretofore intro 
duced, being "A bill to prohibit the further issue of 
interest-bearing bonds without the consent of Congress." 
It provided as follows : "Be it enacted that the 

issuance of interest-bearing bonds of the United States 
for any purpose whatever, without further authority 
from Congress, is hereby prohibited." 

After a brief speech he asked immediate considera 

A single objection would prevent its passage at that 
session, and from the standpoint of the Administration it 
was vital. 


Senator Hill appreciated the situation, and hoped and 
expected an objection. But none was made. However, 
he proved equal to the emergency, for he made the follow 
ing announcement: "The Senator from Neiv York, now 
in the chair, objects to the consideration of the bill," 
much to the surprise and consternation of the Populists 
and their Eepublican allies. 

A coterie of Populist, Democratic and Eepublican 
Senators who were by this bill seeking to embarrass the 
Administration excited and incensed, hurriedly gath 
ered in front of the Journal Clerk, and referring to Sen 
ator Hill said, "Could he do that?" The Clerk, smiling, 
quietly replied, "Well, he has done it!" Subsequently 
the Clerk stated that although he knew of no precedent 
for the announcement, he had no doubt of either its legal- 
itv or propriety. And the incident was closed. 

How timely and helpful to the Goverment his action 
was you will appreciate when I tell you that on the fol 
lowing Monday morning, January sixth, the Secretary of 
the Treasury published a call for a popular loan for one 
hundred million dollars. 

Saturday morning Colonel Lamont requested Senator 
Hill to confer with Secretary Carlisle and himself on the 
financial situation. The question discussed was whether 
the amount of the loan should be fifty or one hundred 
millions, and whether the bonds should be sold at private 
sale to a syndicate or disposed of to the general public as 
a popular loan. 

The conference lasted several hours. Senator Hill 
arguing for a popular loan of one hundred millions ; Sec 
retary Carlisle favoring a private sale on the ground that 
it was certain to produce the needed money, while the 
result of a popular loan could not be foretold. 


The President on the day following decided in favor 
of the popular loan of one hundred millions. 

It was entirely successful, and the threatened crisis 

Defeated in this carefully prepared scheme to em 
barrass the Government, the enemies of the Administra 
tion then apparently decided that if they could not block 
the financial plans of the Administration they could at 
least throw mud at it. 

Accordingly, on the twelfth day of the following 
month, Senator Peffer of Kansas, a Populist, introduced 
a resolution providing for the appointment of a special 
committee of the Senate to investigate and report all 
material facts and circumstances connected with the sale 
of United States bonds by the Secretary of the Treasury 
in the years eighteen hundred and ninety-four, eighteen 
hundred and ninety-five and eighteen hundred and ninety- 

The resolution came up again six days later. Senator 
Sherman moved its reference to the Financial Committee. 
Senator Peffer opposed such reference, and stoutly in 
sisted on a special committee. 

Thereupon Senator Hill began an address to the Sen 
ate, in opposition to any investigation either by the 
Finance Committee or a special committee. It occupied 
the major portion of many days before it was finally 
concluded, on May sixth. 

The introducer, as well as the supporters of the reso 
lution, and their motives, were presented in a light that 
must have made them very uncomfortable. Severe as 
was their castigation, it was but just, as that which hap 
pened then and afterwards makes clear. 

The resolution went to the Finance Committee, which 
made a report of the evidence without recommendation. 


An inquiry made by a Senator two days before Sen 
ator Hill s term expired prompted him to make a brief 
address to the Senate, in the course of which he said: 
il There was not a scintilla of evidence to invalidate the 
bond sale, or to cast any suspicion upon it." \# 


As early as eighteen hundred and ninety Senator 
Hill advocated the repeal of the Sherman Silver Law. 
When the extraordinary session of eighteen hundred and 
ninety-three was called to relieve the then "present im 
pending danger and distress, " he predicted its repeal, 
and he advocated and voted for the repeal measure which 
was passed at that session, his speeches being largely re 
sponsible for that result. 

Senator Hill favored and voted for the measure of 
eighteen hundred and ninety-four providing for the coin 
age of the silver bullion then belonging to the Govern 
ment, known as i i seigniorage. He believed this to be the 
proper disposition of the bullion. Also, he hoped that 
the passage of this act would cool the anger of the silver 
Democrats over the repeal of the Sherman Act, and pre 
vent such a split as occurred in the party in eighteen 
hundred and ninety-six. The bill passed, but was vetoed. 
In eighteen hundred and ninety-eight a bill was passed 
providing for the coinage of the same bullion. 

He introduced, and, after a long contest, secured the 
enactment of a patriotic measure repealing the act mak 
ing Confederate veterans ineligible for appointment in 
the army or navy of the United States. .. ... 

He was an earnest advocate of the repeal of the Fed 
eral Election Law, which had long made possible unfair 
interference with the conduct of elections by the States. 


These are but a few of the many matters in which 
Senator Hill took prominent part in the Senate. 


Returning from the Senate, he continued to be, as 
before he had been, the undisputed leader of the Demo 
cratic party in this State, until he voluntarily withdrew 
from politics January first, nineteen hundred and five. 
His leadership was due in no degree whatever to patron 
age, for he had none for many years, but was due to the 
fact that the Democratic masses of the State had the 
utmost confidence in his character, his ability and his loy 
alty to the fundamental principles of Democracy. 


Throughout his life David B. Hill was the unyielding 
foe of corruption in the public service. 

When he took his seat as presiding officer of the State 
Senate he said: 

"I desire to observe and emphasize the fact that this 
Legislature is competent to offer and shape its own meas 
ures without the aid of that class of individuals who, 
holding no official relations to it, yet make it their busi 
ness to constantly hover about every legislative body, 
seeking to dictate its policy and influence its conduct. 
These corrupt, lobbying influences, which are unfortu 
nately increasing year by year, and which no honest man 
can view without concern, should be frowned upon and 
discouraged. These men, who thus surround us for such 
purposes, have neither the interests of the State at heart 
nor the welfare of its representatives. Their motives are 
mercenary, their occupation disreputable, and their very 
presence a reproach. " 


In the last speech of his life, made at Elmira, his old 
home, he pleaded for a return to old-time principles of 
honesty in public life. 

And it is known of all men that his conduct ever kept 
step with his discourse. 


In one of his Senatorial speeches David Bennett Hill 
spoke of wealth as man s " least noble possession. " His 
friends well knew of his lack of instinct for the accumu 
lation of riches. Though his practice after the close of 
his public service was lucrative, Death found him a rela 
tively poor man. 

He cared not for money for itself, nor did he garner 
it to minister to his personal pleasure. 

He was honest to the extreme. He did, as a matter 
of course, many things which would have seemed far 
from necessary to many men, and to most others would 
have seemed of such rare excellence as to deserve an- 
nouncement to and approbation by the public. 

An example of such exact probity is found in his 
refusal to accept the four thousand dollars and over 
which represented the salary of United States Senator 
from the time of his election to the day he qualified. 
He threatened to mandamus the Clerk unless the money 
was returned to the Treasury. Though this happened in 
eighteen hundred and ninety-two, even closest friends 
knew nothing of it till after his death. We find it difficult 
to avoid contrasting it with the modern custom. 

He spent much money in deeds of charity and kind 
ness, observing ever the scriptural injunction, "Let not 
thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Such 
an instance his death disclosed also. The last day before 


his fatal illness he spent at Troy ordering a bell for the 
village church he attended in his boyhood, and it was stip 
ulated that he was not to be named as the bestower. 


This was a man, of highest ideals and clean life, fear 
less, incorruptible, zealous in politics, loyal to the councils 
and principles of his party, faithful to every public trust, 
conscientiously devoted to the welfare of the people, en 
during calumny patiently, eager to help all distress, never 
vaunting his rectitude or beneficences, and having per 
sonal qualities that made his friendship a thing to be 
cherished with nothing less dear and sacred than ties of 
home and nearest kindred. 

By his death his profession loses an able, logical and 
scholarly advocate, his party a potent, enthusiastic and 
pre-eminent leader, and his country a great, far-seeing 
and broad-minded statesman. 

To the smaller company of his friends the loss is yet 
greater; for his friendship for others, once given, knew 
not change or diminution through circumstance or time. 
The consolation that remains rests in the trust that his 
friendship knows no change through eternity!