HON. J. M. ROBINSON,
LIFE AND CHARACTER
HON. WM. S. HOLMAN,
(Late a Representative from the State of Indiana,)
DELIVERED IN IKE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
JULY 8. 1897.
HON. J. M. ROBINSON,
OK 1X1 )IAXA,
LIFE AND CHARACTER
HON. WM. S. HOLMAN,
(Late a Representative from the State of Indiana.
DELIVERED IN THE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
JULY 8, 1897.
IS 97 .
The House having under consideration the following resolutions—
Resolved, That the business of the House be now suspended that opportu-
nity may be given for tributes to the memory of Hon. William S. Hoi, many
late a representative from the State of Indiana.
Resolved, That as a mark of respect to the memory of tho deceased, and in
recognition of his eminent abilities as a distinguished public servant, the
House at the conclusion of these memorial proceedings shall stand adjourned.
Resolved, that the Clerk communicate these resolutions to tho Semite.
Resolved, That the Clerk be instructed to communicate a copy of these
resolutions to the family of the deceased-
Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana said:
Mr. Speaker: When a member of this Chamber has performed
his mission faithfully and well; when the nation has seen one, at
an early age, enter into the performance of a conscientious public
duty, and has seen his sun cross its meridian and sink to its setting
place in the West, and he still in the performance of that duty,
without a blot or stain upon him, it is fitting, indeed, that his col-
leagues should assemble in this solemn meeting, and the nation,
through the lips of its representatives, should proclaim its sanction
and erect a monument of words and thought to such able and dis-
tinguished public service.
Beautiful is the custom to honor those whom we knew so well
in life, but whose vacant chairs remind us that they have gone
"to that bourne" from which we can not recall them, save by
kind words, in gentle memories, and thus we meet to-day to per-
form this sad yet pleasant duty, to weep with those who weep, to
solace by kind words the bleeding heart, to offer a generous nation's
tribute to the dead.
To call our associates back as we knew them and loved them in
life, to commune with them across on that beautiful shore, to re-
member how we joined in their joys and shared in their sorrows,
to call them back on this memorial day, sad and solemn as it is,
must always be a pleasant task.
It is passing strange, but true— it is serious to reflect upon it—
that one who but a few short weeks ago met with us here in council,
took part in our deliberations, and made this Hall vocal with his
arguments and discussion of public questions, in so short a time,
from the smiles and pleasant greetings with which he met us at
this desk, has passed to the silence of the tomb.
The true Indiana heart throbs to-day with an unwonted pride
at this generous outpouring of Representatives and countrymen
to honor the memory of Indiana's distinguished son, who fought
for so many years on this floor, amid the plaudits of his country,
a battle for retrenchment and reform in expenditures of Govern-
ment. Such fidelity should be written with a "pen of diamond
on tablets of gold."
Judge Holman omitted no opportunity to learn the needs of
yhis country; he watched with a jealous care the rights of his con-
stituents; he guarded the people's Treasury and protected their
interests, and though some may have criticised and others may
not have known his doings, yet the thoughtful and just gave due
credit, and the venerable legislator in this and in the applause of
his own conscience found an ample reward. Others may have
had a more brilliant career; others may have received applause
more ephemeral but louder, but the record of a public benefactor
will never die. He that watches over th9 interests of all at all
times makes an impression that sinks deep into the hearts of his
The record of Judge HoLjIan will live in history for ages, when
you, sir, who occupy that chair, and you, my colleagues, who
listen to my voice — when you and I and all of us shall have passed
away, his record will live on as a proud and magnificent example
of purity in private life and pubbic station, adherence to the cause
and interest of his people, praise and gratitude of a confiding and
satisfied constituency, a record which younger statesmen may well
follow with pride to themselves and satisfaction to their country.
The reminiscences of Judge Holman's career, his long service
here, save as it is known to history, I leave to older members and
worthier tongues than mine; but it is meet that one from his own
State, proud of him, though young in the councils of the nation,
should pay his tribute and voice his commendations of a career
such as has been unfolded by the older members of the House.
Indeed, one's being here to-day may be due to the study of such
famous sons of Indiana as Hendricks, Voorhees, McDonald, and
Hol:.ian, whose fame in Congress sheds an imperishable grandeur
on Indiana's illustrious name.
Judge Holman's death closes a characteristic career essentially
his own. The curious may wonder why a life in Congress was
devoted to the specialty of opposition to appropriations and Gov-
ernment expenditures, a task sometimes not fully understood, and
sometimes not fully appreciated. It must be remembered, how-
ever, that though Judge Holieax watched with a special care the
matter of appropriations— a duty imposed by his committee assign-
ments — yet he was always alert and active, and took a deep inter-
est in all the great questions before the country. He was qualified
by nature and equipped by study to master the economic ques-
tions of public expenditures, and by a faithful performance of a
duty which he felt incumbent upon him he saved many millions
of public money, and I believe that the history of the nation will
not disclose his parallel in the lines pursued by him, '■ None but
himself could be his parallel."
By care and patient industry he acquired a knowledge of the
country's needs, and beyond those lines no man dared go without
meeting his objection. Censure and criticisms came to his lot, as
they have to all public men, from the time that the illiterate
burgher wanted to banish Aristides for being called "the Just,"
down to the present hour, but he knew, as others have learned,
that censure is a tax one pays to the public for being eminent, and
he heeded it not.
Always fearless in the performance of his duty, he made it his
standing policy to "hew to the line, let the chips fall where they
may.*' Amid the rugged storms of clashing interests, swept by
the washing waves of private greed, on this policy he stood, as
firm and unaffected as St. Helena in the midst of the ocean. Com-
plaints were met by a kindness of manner and a continued faith-
ful performance of duty, and opposing right to special interest,
he turned aside the shafts of criticism and exemplified that "only
the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in the dust."
With a vigorous energy and persistence in opposing public ex-
travagance, no one ever truly charged him with dishonesty or
malevolence. He did not seem to work for short-lived popular
applause, but was willing to submit to the test of time for an ap-
proval, knowing after all that ambition is but the shadow of a
dream. Sallust said of Cato that the less he coveted glory, the
more he obtained of it. So was it with Judge Holm ax.
I will not dwell on the sobriquets "Watchdog of the Treas-
ury " and ' • Great Objector." These are known' through the laud,
and in the home of the humble are as iudissolubly connected with
his name as they are with the sacredness and safety of the peo-
What he saved to the country will never be known. I only
repeat the language of an eminent member of this House when I
say that Judge Holman, each term of his career, saved to the
nation a sum equal to that which placed upon yonder hill that
monument of pride and beauty that reminds us of the immortal
fame of the father of our country.
The principles of economy and democratic simplicity were en-
graven on his soul; nor did he seek to cast off these inborn traits,
but rather cultivated them by his surroundings and associations.
Is man molded by his environments? Go to that Indiana home,
stand upon the summit of that bluff, within view of the Ohio
River and three States, and tell me not that Judge Holman did
not imbibe a deep sense of the great obligations upon him. Liv-
ing in that rural home, to look about him would bring up a train
of associated ideas. One would be led up the Ohio and up its
tributaries to the East, down with its waters and back again
through the great rivers of the West. Standing on the threshold
of that mansion, looking down upon the wrinkled waters of that
mighty river, he gathered within the sweep of his perceptive mind
and eye a landscape, including countless fertile farms in valleys
and glens on lofty hillsides, embracing within this magnificent
view three of the great States of the nation, Qhio, Kentucky,
These scenes of his boyhood days, mature manhood, and ripe
old age taught the statesman his duty to commerce, to the States,
to the nation. These scenes, the resultant thoughts, made him
democratic in all his acts, words, and bearing.
Judge Holman loved his country home, and thither he would
go when his Congressional labors were over, and there meet in
true democratic simplicity the people he loved. He loved man-
kind, and he believed that the pinnacle of ambition was reached
when he did good to his fellow-men. He was known to every
man, to every woman, to every child, almost, in his district, and it
is a pleasure to mention, as it is a compliment to his name to say it.
that the children of his district, with childlike glee, saluted this
great legislator as " Uncle Billy," and thus they warmed his heart.
I have never seen more sincere sorrow than was depicted on the
face of every man, woman, and child at his burial. A statesman
who so lives will be remembered by sorrowing friends and asso-
ciates after death, and thus erects for himself a monument more
enduring than marble and brass.
This great man, with his public life and triumphs, also had his
private sorrows. He loved his family and his friends as every
true man loves his; in domestic feelings and affections as kind
and tender as a philosopher. A year before his death a sad be-
reavement came in the death of his wife. While engaged in gentle
banter on their mutual frailties from age, this couple, indissolubly
united in affections by the ties of half a century, were separated
in a moment of unawares by the swift and noiseless hand of death,
one passed to the realms of heaven, her eternal reward, the other
left to mourn, and in a year to follow and meet " in that tranquil
sphere the loving wife he mourned for here."
When the partner of his joys and sorrows, in a moment of bliss
and contentment, almost without warning, was stricken down, it
broke his heart. He could guide his steps with wisdom along the
snares and pitfalls of public life; he could meet the storms and
tempests of acrimonious debate; he could bear the "whips ami
scorns" of unjust censure; but when this oompanion of half a
century was stricken, it burst his tender heart.
Many who knew him well thought he would never survivo the
shock; but philosophy triumphed, and with the confidence of hi*
constituency he returned again to the scenes of his former 1
This election made him the father of tli- Housej and, c >mmenc-
ing his sixteenth term, he served long enough to exceed tb
ice of any other man, living or dead.
Judge Holm ax served in all the Congresses from the Thirty-
sixth till the present time, with three breaks in his continuous
service, two for one term, the Thirty-ninth and Fifty-fourth Con-
gresses, and one for two Congresses, the Forty-fifth and F< >rty-
sixth. He had served in his own State of Indiana as prosecuting
attorney, judge, member of the constitutional convention, and
member of the State legislature.
When he came here to serve in his last session of Congress, his
reception in this Chamber was both cordial and complimentary,
and in the nature of an ovation. Members of the Fifty-fourth
Congress and new members of this Congress sought a personal
acquaintance with the Father of the House, whom they had known
for j-ears as a national legislator, and the older members renewed
their acquaintance with happy reminiscences, while the employees
of the House, who knew him to love him, gave a cordial greeting.
"With a youthful fervor he returned these kindly greetings, and
in these circumstances and surroundings was not written that
" death rides on every breeze and lurks in every flower."'
He entered into his work with characteristic vim and energy,
and none who saw him during the first days of the session but
would have predicted more years of useful life.
Personal to myself, I will say that, as a new membar from his
own State, I felt the touch of his kindly influence and good will.
What members of this body endear themselves to the beginner?
To whom will kindnesses be shown as years roll on? Of whom
will kind remembrances be cherished in after years? Go ask it of
each new member, and the answer will be, " Those who show us
marked and early kindness.'" Such a one I found Judge Holm ax
to he. Complimenting me on my first effort in this august body,
he little dreamed that my next would be in praise of him.
Judge Holman closed on the 22d day of April, 1S97, at the age
of 75 years, a remarkable and successful career of honest patriot-
ism and statesmanship, and left, at this ripe old age. the scenes of
his long labors with the confidence and esteem of his colleagues,
the admiration of the thoughtful, and the applause of his country-
men , all of which was evidenced by the universal toneof the press,
according him an unsullied honor, a high sense of public duty,
persistence in right, which traits made him a useful public servant
in life and makes his death a national loss.
Indiana mourns with the nation the loss of William S. Hol-
man, and we seek consolation in the thought that for a lifetime he
served acceptably and well that nation; and now, after a life's
work devoted to her service, when he had overlapped that three-
score years and ten allotted to man, he is suddenly called, still in
line of duty, and a grateful country lays him to rest, like a weary
sleeper, under the shadow of the oak beneath the myrtle on the
green hillside of his native Indiana home, where the weary sleeper
may sleep on while the forest bird sings over him its sweetest song.
In this Chamber he fought his battles and culled his laurels: he
sleeps to-day in the heart of a grateful constituency. These are
With a consciousness of duty well performed, with applause of
constituency and of country, with a long life of devotion to his
country "s needs, with gratitude of citizens, States, and nation, the
heart of ambition is filled. [Applause.]