1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hoar, Samuel

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HOAR, SAMUEL (1778-1856), American lawyer, was born in Lincoln, Massachusetts, on the 18th of May 1778. He was the son of Samuel Hoar, an officer in the American army during the War of Independence, for many years a member of the Massachusetts General Court, and a member in 1820-1821 of the state Constitutional Convention. The son graduated at Harvard in 1802, was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1805 and began practice at Concord. His success in his profession was immediate, and for a half-century he was one of the leading lawyers of Massachusetts. He was in early life a Federalist and was later an ardent Whig in politics. He was a member of the state senate in 1825, 1832 and 1833, and of the national house of representatives in 1835-1837, during which time he made a notable speech in favour of the constitutional right of congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. In November 1844, having retired from active legal practice some years before, he went to Charleston, S.C., at the request of Governor George Nixon Briggs (1796-1861), to test in the courts of South Carolina the constitutionality of the state law which provided that “it shall not be lawful for any free negro, or person of color, to come into this state on board any vessel, as a cook, steward or mariner, or in any other employment,” and that such free negroes should be seized and locked up until the vessels on which they had come were ready for sea, when they should be returned to such vessels. His visit aroused great excitement, he was threatened with personal injury, the state legislature passed resolutions calling for his expulsion, and he was compelled to leave early in December. In 1848 he was prominent in the Free Soil movement in Massachusetts, and subsequently assisted in the organization of the Republican Party. In 1850 he served in the Massachusetts house of representatives. He married a daughter of Roger Sherman of Connecticut. He died at Concord, Massachusetts, on the 2nd of November 1856.

See a memoir by his son G. F. Hoar in Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, vol. iii. (Boston, 1883); the estimate by R. W. Emerson in Lectures and Biographical Sketches (Boston, 1903); and “Samuel Hoar's Expulsion from Charleston,” Old South Leaflets, vol. vi. No. 140.

His son, Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar (1816-1895), was born at Concord, Massachusetts, on the 21st of February 1816. He graduated at Harvard in 1835 and at the Harvard Law School in 1839, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1840. From 1849 to 1855 he was a judge of the Massachusetts court of common pleas, from 1859 to 1869 a judge of the state supreme court, and in 1869-1870 attorney-general of the United States in the cabinet of President Grant, and in that position fought unmerited “machine” appointments to offices in the civil service until at the pressure of the “machine” Grant asked for his resignation from the cabinet. The Senate had already shown its disapproval of Hoar's policy of civil service reform its failure in 1870 to confirm the President's nomination of Hoar as associate-justice of the supreme court. In 1871 he was a member of the Joint High Commission which drew up the Treaty of Washington. In 1872 he was a presidential elector on the Republican ticket, and in 1873-1875 was a representative in Congress. He was a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University from 1868 to 1880 and from 1881 to 1887, and was president of the Board in 1878-1880 and in 1881-1887. He was also prominent in the affairs of the Unitarian church. He was a man of high character and brilliant wit. He died at Concord on the 31st of January 1895.

Another son, George Frisbie Hoar (1826-1904), was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on the 29th of August 1826. He graduated at Harvard in 1846 and at the Harvard Law School in 1849. He settled in the practice of law in Worcester, Massachusetts, where in 1852 he became a partner of Emory Washburn (1800-1877). In 1852 he was elected as a Free-Soiler to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and during his single term of service became the leader of his party in that body. He was active in the organization of the Republican party in Massachusetts, and in 1857 was elected to the State senate, but declined a re-election. During 1856-1857 he was active in behalf of the Free-State cause in Kansas. He was a member of the National House of Representatives from 1869 until 1877, and in this body took high rank as a ready debater and a conscientious committee worker. He was prominent as a defender and supporter of the Freedman's Bureau, took a leading part in the later reconstruction legislation and in the investigation of the Crédit Mobilier scandal, and in 1876 was one of the House managers of the impeachment of General W. W. Belknap, Grant's secretary of war. In 1877 he was a member of the Electoral Commission which settled the disputed Hayes-Tilden election. From 1877 until his death he was a member of the United States senate. In the senate almost from the start he took rank as one of the most influential leaders of the Republican party; he was a member from 1882 until his death of the important Judiciary Committee, of which he was chairman in 1891-1893 and in 1895-1904. His most important piece of legislation was the Presidential Succession Act of 1886. He was a delegate to every Republican National Convention from 1876 to 1904, and presided over that at Chicago in 1880. He was a conservative by birth and training, and although he did not leave his party he disagreed with its policy in regard to the Philippines, and spoke and voted against the ratification of the Spanish Treaty. He was regent of the Smithsonian Institution in 1880-1881, and long served as an overseer of Harvard University (1896-1904) and as president of its alumni association. He was also president of the American Historical Association (1894-1895) and of the American Antiquarian Society (1884-1887). Like his brother, he was a leading Unitarian, and was president of its National Conference from 1894 to 1902. He died at Worcester, Massachusetts, on the 30th of September 1904. A memorial statue has been erected there.

See his Recollections of Seventy Years (New York, 1903).