Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896/Chapter 8/Crisp

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VIII. Political Giants of the Present Day—

Charles Frederick Crisp

Charles Frederick Crisp[edit]

Soldier, Debater and Parliamentarian

Charles Frederick Crisp, Democratic Speaker of the House, naturally takes his place beside Reed, the famous Republican Speaker. Though the two gentlemen may differ in some respects, it cannot be denied that they resemble each other in their stainless integrity, their genial manner and their great ability. Like General Meade, Charles F. Crisp was born on foreign soil, though his parents were Americans, temporarily absent from their native land. Consequently their sons were as much Americans as if they first saw the light on Bunker Hill. Young Crisp was born January 29, 1845, in Sheffield, England, where his parents had gone on a visit, but they returned to America before the son was a year old. They made their home in Georgia, and in that State the son has spent most of his life, with the exception of the brief space mentioned at the beginning.

A Brave Soldier[edit]

Young Crisp entered the Confederate service in May, 1861, having just turned his sixteenth year. He was a brave soldier and served with honor for more than three years as an officer in the Tenth Virginia Infantry. On May 12, 1864, the fortunes of war made Lieutenant Crisp a prisoner, and his residence was in Fort Delaware until June, 1865, when he was set free.

His Public Career[edit]

Returning to Americus, Crisp took up the study of law and soon acquired a lucrative practice. In 1872, he was appointed solicitor-general of the southwestern judicial circuit and was reappointed in 1873 for a term of four years. The Congressional Directory thus modestly sums up the public career of Mr. Crisp:—

“He located in Americus in 1873; in June, 1877, was appointed judge of the superior court of the same circuit; in 1878 was elected by the General Assembly to the same office; in 1880 was re-elected judge for a term of four years; resigned that office in September, 1882, to accept the Democratic nomination for Congress; was permanent President of the Democratic convention which assembled in Atlanta in April, 1883, to nominate a candidate for governor; was elected to the Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, Fiftieth, Fifty-first, Fifty-second, and Fifty-third Congresses, and re-elected to the Fifty-fourth Congress as a Democrat, receiving 8,503 votes, against 2,568 votes for George B. White, Populist; was elected Speaker of the House in the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses.”

In the Congress[edit]

It will thus be noted that Mr. Crisp entered Congress at the age of thirty-eight. He speedily took high rank in that body, and often, during his second term was called to occupy the chair in committee of the whole. He is one of the ablest parliamentary authorities, self-possessed debaters and best informed men in the House. He was a leading participant in the turbulent scenes of the Fifty-first Congress, when the only member as cool as he was Speaker Reed. His party never did a more appropriate thing than when, at the first opportunity, they placed him in the chair as Speaker, and it may be truthfully said that few if any occupants have displayed more ability and judicial fairness than he.

At Home[edit]

Great as have been the public honors placed upon Mr. Crisp, the most pleasing picture of him is in his own home. He is liked by every one in Americus. When the news reached that town that he had been chosen Speaker, a telegram was sent to him with the announcement that his friends had locked up the chief of police and all his officers for twenty-four hours and had taken possession of the place, that they might have a chance to give proper expression to their feelings.

Mr. Crisp has been blessed with one of the best of wives, and they have had seven children, of whom only four are living. The eldest daughter is married, and the eldest boy is clerk to his father. Unhappily the mother, shortly after her marriage, was afflicted with rheumatic gout, from which she has never recovered. Her affliction seems to have drawn her children and husband closer to her, and the love borne by all for one another makes the home an ideal one.

The house in the evening is the resort of the young people of Americus. They come together to dance and sing and enjoy themselves. Although Speaker Crisp is neither a singer nor dancer, none finds keener enjoyment in the fun than he. He is very fond of young people, and it follows inevitably that they are equally fond of him. He is thoroughly happy, and holding as he does the esteem and respect of all his neighbors and acquaintances, and with the prospect of higher political honors awaiting him, ex-Speaker Crisp has no excuse for envying the fortunes of any man.