The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Whitman, Charles Seymour

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1430538The Encyclopedia Americana — Whitman, Charles Seymour

WHITMAN, Charles Seymour, American lawyer: b. Hanover, Conn., 28 Aug. 1868. He studied at Amherst College and then studied law at New York University, and was admitted to the bar in 1894. In 1901 he was appointed assistant corporation counsel of New York City where his effective work won for him the post of city magistrate. In this capacity he founded the Night Court in that city for the immediate trial of all offenders arrested at night. In 1907 Governor Hughes appointed him a judge of the Court of Sessions, and in the following year deputy attorney-general in the investigation of election frauds in the northern part of the State. In 1909 he was elected district-attorney of New York City on a Fusion ticket. In this capacity he secured representation of the district-attorney's staff in the city magistrate's office, and was active in supressing arson offenders. The noted Becker trial came up during his tenancy of office, and Whitman's mastery of the case was most effective in unearthing and reforming the relations between certain members of the New York City police and professional criminals. The handling of the Schmidt murder case, the prosecution of the poultry trust and of election frauds won for Mr. Whitman the highest commendation. He was renominated in 1913 and elected almost unanimously. In 1914 Whitman was elected to the governorship of New York State. His principal plank was the reformation of the State finances, which he proceeded to institute vigorously by a reorganization of State departments and a thorough investigation of the salaries of Civil Service employees. In 1916 he was elected chairman of the Republican National Convention, where he urged the nomination of Charles E. Hughes for President. In September of the same year he was re-elected to the governorship and established a precedent by sending to every enrolled voter a report of his first term as governor, containing also reports of the heads of other State departments. In connection with the European War, the governor ably supported the Federal administration in war policies and effectively mobilized the State's resources. He also inaugurated a State Constabulary, and a new State Guard to replace the National Guard on service in France. In 1918 he was again nominated for governor on the Republican ticket, but was defeated by Alfred E. Smith, the Democratic candidate.