Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 519

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The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)

Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.


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WHITNEY GENEALOGY. 519

The Republican on the 9th of February, 1860, announced the appointment of Gen. WHITNEY as collector of the Port of Boston, and said: "Though not seeking the office, we presume he will accept it, as both in political honors and personal profit it is a much higher and more desirable position than he has at the armory. The appoint- ment is but just recognition of Gen. WHITNEY's leadership in the party, and places him substantially at the head of the Democratic organization in New England, and his sagacity and influence will undoubtedly enable him to retain it not only through the remainder of Mr. BUCHANAN's administration, but a further and full term if the Democratic party again succeed in maintaining its supremacy in the government. The armory and our citizens generally will regret to lose Gen. WHITNEY from his present position. He has been popular and efficient in his superintendence of that establishment, and the announcement of his successor will be awaited with intense anxiety, lest the perils of political appointments shall be illustrated in his career, as they have not been in that of Gen. WHITNEY's." The following from the New York Journal of Commerce, not a partison paper, shows how it was regarded in commer- cial circles: "It is eminently fit that we should give the president due praise for the selection of a new incumbent, so popular, so correct in his business habits, and so sound on the national questions of the day as the gentleman who has been nominated for the collectorship. There can be no doubt, we presume, of his confirmation." Gen. WHITNEY's administration of the business affairs of the Boston Custom House was efficient and satisfactory to the government as well as to all who had direct dealings with the collector or his subordinates, but it was cut short by the success of the Republican party in the election of 1860. He entered upon the duties of the office about the first of March 1860, and was removed very soon, I think, within 30 days after the inauguration of President LINCOLN, on the 4th of March, 1861. After his removal from the collectorship, Gen. WHITNEY engaged in business in Boston, and soon became identified with enterprises of large extent and importance. He was for some years, and at the time of his death, president of the Boston Water Power Company and of the Metropolitan Steamship Company, whose steamers formed the "outside line" from Boston to New York. By his sagacity, energy and sound judgment, he soon gained, and maintained a high reputation as a business man among business men of the highest character. The facts that Gen. WHITNEY represented Conway in the legislature of 1851 and 1854 and that he was a delegate in the constitutional convention in 1853, have been mentioned. It is to be said further that in 1849 he was a Democratic candidate in Franklin County for state senator; that in 1852 he was one of the Democratic candidates for presidential electors at large, Col. Charles G. GREEN, for many years the well-known editor of the Boston Post, being the other; that in 1856 he was a delegate to the Democratic national conven- tion that nominated James BUCHANAN for president; that in 1860 he was a delegate at large to the Democratic national convention that met in Charlestown, adjourned to Baltimore and divided on candidates; that in that year he acted with those Democrats who supported John. C. BRECKENRIDGE for president; that in 1872 he repre- sented the first Norfolk district in the state senate; that in 1876 he was president of the Democratic state convention that nominated the Hon. Charles Francis ADAMS for governor of Massachusetts; and that in 1878 he presided over the Democratic state convention in Faneuil Hall, Boston, which nominated Hon. Josiah G. ABBOTT for governor, in opposition to Hon. B. F. BUTLER, who had received a nomination from Democrats in Worcester. On the last named occasion he made an able and powerful speech which attracted much attention. That was the last public effort of his life, but there was nothing in it nor in his personal appearance - hearty and vig- orous - that indicated that he was very near the end of his earthly career. He was active in his attention to his extensive business interests in Boston, till and on the 24th day of October, 1878. On that day he had, in the forenoon, been in consulta- tion with other gentlemen concerning the affairs of the Boston Water Power Com- pany to which labor he applied himself very closely. He was in his customary health at noon, made a call at the headquarters of the Democratic State com- mittee and manifested his usual interest in the progress of the pending political campaign. Later in the afternoon he heard of the suddden death of Mr. James L. THORNDYKE, a friend and business associate. Still later, he met a friend on the street, to whom he said that he had intended to go to the Democratic meeting in Fanueil Hall that evening, but had just heard of the death of Mr. THORNDYKE and concluded to go home and keep quiet instead of subjecting himself to the excite- ment of a political assemblage. He said, "I am getting to be an old man and per- haps better take care of myself." The two separated shortly before 6 o'clock. Gen. WHITNEY took a car on his way to his home in Brookline where he had resided

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