The New International Encyclopædia/Tilden, Samuel Jones

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

TIL′DEN, Samuel Jones (1814-86). An American lawyer and statesman, born at New Lebanon, N. Y. He attended Yale College and the University of the City of New York, where he graduated in 1837; studied law, and in 1841 was admitted to the bar of New York City. As a lawyer he rose to the first rank. In 1846 he was a member of the State Legislature, in which he devoted his attention particularly to the subject of the State canals, and in the same year served as a member of the State Constitutional Convention. In 1867 he again sat as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Having been elected again to a seat in the Legislature, he took the lead in 1872 in the impeachment proceedings against Barnard and Cardozo, two of Tweed's corrupt and subservient judges. He contributed to the exposure of the frauds of the Tweed Ring, and took the leading part in the prosecution of its guilty members. By 1868 he had become the acknowledged leader of the Democratic Party in New York, and his activity in overthrowing the Tweed Ring led to his election in 1874 as Governor of New York. His administration (1875-76) was marked by economy in the management of the State canals. In June, 1876, he was nominated by the Democratic National Convention at Saint Louis for President of the United States, and in the ensuing Presidential election received a majority of the popular vote, and according to the final count came within one vote of receiving a majority of the electoral vote. Because of alleged frauds in the elections of Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, the votes of those States, which were nominally given for the Democratic Party and which would have turned the election in Tilden's favor, were claimed by the Republicans, and the excitement which followed threatened to disturb the peace of the country. Finally Congress created an Electoral Commission (q.v.), consisting of five justices of the Supreme Court, five Senators, and five Representatives, to settle the dispute, and by a strict party vote of 8 to 7 it gave its decision in favor of Tilden's opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes (q.v.). Tilden thereupon promptly requested his friends to accept the decision with good grace, though many of his supporters continued to believe and to assert that he had rightfully been elected President. In 1880 and in 1884 the Democratic Party wished to nominate Tilden again for the Presidency, but each time he refused to be a candidate. He lived his remaining years in retirement near Yonkers, N. Y., dying on August 4, 1886. He bequeathed the greater portion of his fortune of about $5,000,000 to philanthropic purposes, chiefly for the establishment and endowment of a public library in the city of New York. The will was contested and only about $2,000,000 went to the establishment of the Tilden Foundation of the New York Public Library (q.v.). Tilden's biography was written by John Bigelow (New York, 1895), and his writings were edited by the same author (2 vols., 1885).