Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Pierce, Henry Lillie

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PIERCE, Henry Lillie, member of congress, b. in Stonghton, Mass., 23 Aug., 1825; d. in Boston, 17 Dec., 1896. He engaged in manufacturing, and as early as 1848 took an active part in organizing the “Free-soil” party in Massachusetts. He was a member of the Massachusetts legislature in 1860-'6, and in 1860 was instrumental in getting a bill passed by both branches of the legislature removing the statutory prohibition upon the formation of militia companies composed of colored men. He was elected to congress as a Republican to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Whiting, was re-elected for the next congressional term, and served from 1 Dec., 1873, till 3 March, 1877, when he declined a renomination. In the presidential election of 1884 he was prominent in organizing an independent movement in support of Cleveland, and had since taken a leading part in the effort to revise the tariff legislation and reduce the taxes on imports. He was mayor of Boston in 1872, and again in 1878. More than half a million of his large fortune was left for public objects and institutions and $200,000 presented to a poet and his family. — His brother, Edward Lillie, author, b. in Stoughton, Mass., 29 March, 1829; d. in Paris, France, 6 Sept., 1897, was graduated at Brown and at Harvard law-school, receiving the degree of LL. D. from Brown. He was a delegate to the National Republican convention in 1860. At the beginning of the civil war he enlisted as a private in the 3d Massachusetts regiment, and served till July, 1861, when he was detailed to collect the negroes at Hampton and set them to work on the intrenchments of that town. This was the beginning of the employment of negroes on U. S. military works. In December, 1861, the secretary of the treasury despatched Mr. Pierce to Port Royal to examine into the condition of the negroes on the sea islands. In February, 1862, he returned to Washington and reported to the government, and in March was given charge of the freedmen and plantations on those islands. He took with him nearly sixty teachers and superintendents, established schools, and suggested the formation of freedmen's aid societies, by means of which great good was accomplished. In June, 1862, Mr. Pierce made his second report to the government setting forth what he had done. These reports were afterward reprinted in the “Rebellion Record,” and were favorably reviewed both in Europe and the United States. The care of the negroes on the islands having been transferred to the war department, he was asked to continue in charge under its authority, but declined. He was offered the military governorship of South Carolina, but was not confirmed. He was collector of internal revenue for the 3d Massachusetts district from October, 1863, till May, 1866, district attorney in 1866-'9, secretary of the board of state charities in 1869-'74, and a member of the legislature in 1875-'6. He was a member of the Republican national conventions of 1876 and 1884, and in December, 1878, was appointed by President Hayes assistant treasurer of the United States, but declined. In 1883 he gave to the white and colored people of St. Helena island, the scene of his former labors, a library of 800 volumes. He also originated the public library of Milton, Mass., where he had resided, and had been a trustee since its organization. He had been a lecturer at the Boston law-school since its foundation. Mr. Pierce visited Europe several times. His second visit was for the inspection of European prisons, reformatories and asylums, and the result is given in his report for 1873 as secretary of the board of state charities. Mr. Pierce was a frequent contributor to newspapers and periodicals, and published numerous articles and addresses, and “American Railroad Law” (New York, 1857); “Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner” (4 vols., Boston, 1877-'93), and “The Law of Railroads” (Boston). He also edited “Walter's American Law” (1860), and compiled “Index of the Special Railroad Laws of Massachusetts.” (1874).