Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bushrod Ebenezer Hoppin (1828-1923), Bushrod Washington (1762-1829), Bushrod Washington Lott (1826-1886)

Portrait from the Republicans of Illinois, 1905.

   During a long life that extended nearly a century, Bushrod Ebenezer Hoppin was elected to public office in both New York and Illinois, serving terms in the legislative bodies of both those states. Mentioned as being an "intimate friend" of  both Abraham Lincoln and Roscoe Conkling, Hoppin was a lifelong Republican who engaged in farming and stock raising for a good majority of his ninety-four years.
   Born in Madison County, New York on September 2, 1828, Bushrod Hoppin was the son of Curtis Hoppin (1783-1868), a former state assemblyman from Madison County in the session of 1823. Bushrod Hoppin's education took place in schools local to Madison County and he later went on to attend the Eaton and Lebanon Academies. For three years he taught school during the winter months and during his youth joined his brother on a journey to Illinois to sell a large flock of sheep. Following this trip Hoppin returned to his hometown of Lebanon and in January 1850 married to Harriett Parmenter (1830-1919). The couple were married for over 68 years and their lengthy union saw the births of nine children.
   Hoppin and his wife continued to reside in New York until 1855, whereafter he removed to Sangamon County, Illinois. Following his resettlement Hoppin began establishing his roots in Chatham, Sangamon County, purchasing a farm and raising livestock. In late 1858 he and a partner, William Heard, began a lengthy trek to Texas, where they planned to sell a flock of twelve hundred sheep. Wintering in Missouri, the pair resumed their journey and after a short period in the Indian Territory reached Texas in late 1859. In early 1860 Hoppin traveled through Galveston and Hill County on business, and during his stay saw first hand the numerous instances of rebellion and secessionist activity then occurring.
   After having "speedily" closed up his business doings in Texas, Hoppin returned to Illinois, just one week prior to the election of Abraham Lincoln (a Springfield native) to the Presidency. Meeting with the President-elect a day after his return to Illinois, Hoppin later reminisced:
"I got home just before the election at which Mr. Lincoln was chosen president. I met him the day after my return I had been to the south and Mr. Lincoln wanted to talk to me about conditions. I spent the whole day with him in his office."
   In December 1860 Bushrod Hoppin and his family returned to their old home in Madison County, New York. Two years after his return he would serve as an assistant assessor for New York's 22nd congressional district and in 1866 was elected as Madison County's representative in the State Assembly. Serving in the session of 1867, Hoppin sat on the committee on Affairs of Villages and is remarked to have been "clear in his ideas on State and National polices and honest in the expression of his views."
   Bushrod Hoppin spent seven years in New York following his time in the legislature, and moved back to Illinois in 1874. Settling in Chicago, he "engaged in the stock business" for many years afterward and in 1888 was elected from Chicago's 2nd district to the Illinois State House of Representatives. Serving in the 1889-91 session, Hoppin would introduce a bill that would remove the "stain of Texas fever" from the Chicago Union Stock Yards
   Several years after his time in the legisature Hoppin was called again to political life; being named as an alternate delegate from Illinois to the Republican National Convention of 1896Widowed in 1919 after 68 years of marriage, Hoppin removed to Arlington, Massachusetts following his wife's death, and resided with his daughter (listed as Mrs. Edward Everett Bacon) for the remainder of his life
  Bushrod E. Hoppin died in Arlington at age 94 on April 20, 1923. He was later returned to Illinois for burial alongside his wife Henrietta at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. This cemetery is also the resting place of both President Lincoln as well as oddly named Springfield Mayor Rheuna Drake Lawrence, profiled here back in March 2012. 


   A prominent jurist in his day, the oddly named Bushrod Washington is most certainly one of the oddest named men ever to serve as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. A nephew of the first president of the United States, George Washington, Bushrod Washington's tenure on that court lasted over three decades and is remarked by court historians as having been largely undistinguished during his time on the bench. Born into a very prestigious Virginia family on June 5, 1762 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Bushrod Washington was the son of John Augustine Washington (younger brother of the famous President) and Hannah Bushrod.
   George Washington guided his nephew's early education and young Bushrod graduated from the College of William and Mary at age sixteen. During his time there he shared classes with future Chief Justice John Marshall, and put his studies on hold during the late 1770s to serve in a Calvary unit during the Revolutionary War. At the conclusion of his military service he returned to his studies, and on the influence of his famous uncle became a law student of James Wilson, a distinguished lawyer and future Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. 
   After practicing law for several years Bushrod Washington began a fleeting interest in politics, serving as a member of the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1787 and as a delegate to the Virginia Convention to ratify the Constitution. In 1798  President John Adams appointed Washington to the U.S. Supreme Court as an Associate Justice, coincidentally filling the court vacancy caused by the death of James Wilson, his former law teacher. College friend John Marshall joined Washington on the court three years later, and the two served on the court together for twenty-eight years!


                                                    Bushrod Washington's official Court portrait.


   Washington and Marshall shared a very similar judicial ideology, and Washington is remarked as having been Marshall's biggest supporter during their years together on the high bench. In an interesting tidbit, he only disagreed with Marshall in three opinions during their service together, and it was Washington who guided Marshall into his only dissent while on the court, in the case of Ogden vs. Saunders (1827.)  In total, Washington wrote only 70 majority opinions during his three decade long stint on the court, and "formally dissented only once."
   In addition to his court service, Bushrod would inherit Mt. Vernon from his famous uncle George after the latter's death in 1799. In his later years he helped to found the American Colonization Society and served as its first president, advocating the return of freed blacks back to Africa where they could gain more freedom. Washington served one of the longest tenures in Supreme Court history (over 31 years) and was described as a "short untidy man who liked snuff and suffered from ill health." He died while attending a circuit court proceeding in Philadelphia on November 26, 1829 at the age of 67. He was later interred on the grounds of Mt. Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia.


                                                              Bushrod W. Lott, 1826-1886


   Named in honor of the preceding gentleman, Bushrod Washington Lott was a native of New Jersey but made his name (politically speaking), in Minnesota. He was born on May 1, 1826 in Pemberton, New Jersey and moved with his father Charles to Missouri in 1837.
   Lott graduated from St. Louis University and soon after began to study law in Quincy, Illinois. After a short stay in Wisconsin Lott migrated to the Minnesota Territory in 1848, and soon after his arrival began a law practice in the then burgeoning city of St. Paul. With in a few years of his arrival Lott had entered the political life of the region, being elected as a justice of the peace in 1851. 
   In that same year he was named as justice of the peace Lott took on the post of Chief Clerk of the Minnesota Territorial House of Representatives, continuing in that office until his election as Mayor of St. Paul in 1852. Only the third man to occupy that office, Lott 
served in this capacity until 1854. In addition to his service as Mayor, Lott would be elected to two terms in the Minnesota Territorial House of Representatives from Ramsey County, serving in the sessions of 1853 and 1856.
   Six years after leaving the mayor's office Bushrod Lott married to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Cornelia Friend, with whom he had two children, Kennedy F. (1866-1953) and Edith (1870-1942). He continued his political ascent in 1862 when President Lincoln appointed him to succeed his deceased brother (Peter Lott) as U.S. Consul in Tehuantepec, Mexico. Lott remained in Mexico until 1865, whereafter he returned to St. Paul. He continued in civic affairs in his native city until his death from apoplexy on September 24, 1886 at age 60.

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