Monday, February 4, 2013

Naaman Loud White (1813-1890)

    Sporting a rather interesting coiffure and sideburns, Naaman Loud White was a descendant of a family prominent in Massachusetts affairs dating back to the 17th century. A lifelong resident of the city of Braintree, Massachusetts (which received a brief mention in Cranmore N. Wallace's article back on January 21st), Naaman L. White was bestowed his unusual first name in honor of Naaman, a figure in the Hebrew Bible who is remarked as suffering from leprosy, as well as being a commander of the army of the King of Aram (Syria). White's middle name Loud stems from it being his mother's maiden name.
   Born on June 24, 1813 in Braintree, Naaman Loud White was one of nine children born to Elihu (1753-1836) and Sarah Loud White (1771-1860). Naaman's father Elihu was a man of means in Braintree, being listed by the History of Norfolk, County, Massachusetts, Vol. I as a former captain in the Massachusetts state militia as well as a past "deputy fish commissioner of the state". 
   Being born into a family conspicuous in day-to-day life in Braintree, Naaman White had the benefit of an excellent education, attending both the Amherst and Phillips Academies in his native state. White enrolled at Harvard University in 1831 and during his four years at this school proved to be a student of achievement, being remarked by the History of Norfolk County as having a particular aptitude for the "ancient classics and in the modern languages and literature." While well-rounded academically, White also took part in a number of Harvard student organizations, including the Harvard Union, the Institute of '76 and was a member (as well as President) of the famed Hasty Pudding Club. 
   White graduated from Harvard in the class of 1835 and shortly thereafter became engaged as a principal at the Weld boarding school in the Boston suburb of Roxbury. After a year in this position, White left to pursue a law degree, studying under Judge Sherman Leland (a former Speaker of the Massachusetts Senate) and Rufus Choate (later a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts). After being admitted to practice in 1839, White returned to Braintree to open a law practice, which he managed with success for over three decades.
   The History of Norfolk County notes that as an attorney, White was of sterling character and sound judgment, later mentioning that "many a client gratefully remembers that he was rescued from the perilous edge of a suit, which might have proved vexatious and costly, and probably unsatisfactory and unprofitable as a result." This same work also relates that White wasn't opposed to holding public of office, but that he "held that the office should seek the man, not the man the office."

   Public office did indeed beckon to Naaman White, and in November 1844 was nominated by the citizens of Braintree to be their representative in the Massachusetts General Court. White won the election and took his seat in January 1845, and during his term sat on the house committee on Public Charitable Institutions. In November 1846 White was reelected to the Massachusetts State House for the 1847 legislative term and held a seat on the committee on Bills In the Third Reading. 
   In addition to his two terms in the legislature, White is also recorded as holding numerous local offices in Braintree, including those of town selectman, town assessor, overseer of the poor and supervisor of highways. White also took a great interest in educational matters in his native town, serving as a member of the school committee for fifteen years whilst also holding the office of President of the Braintree School Fund Corporation.
   Naaman White continued in the practice of law until putting aside his practice in the early 1870s, whereafter he "devoted himself principally to the care and arrangement of his own ample estate and of the estates in trust of his friends who availed themselves of his services." Because of his knowledge as an attorney and former legislator, White was also sought out to head various institutions in Norfolk County, including services as President of the Weymouth and Braintree Mutual Fire Insurance Company and director and vice president of the Weymouth Savings Bank.  

                                            From the 1879 Annual Report of Massachusetts.

   Naaman White remained active in public affairs in Norfolk County well into the 1880s, continuing as the vice president of the Weymouth Savings Bank until shortly before his death. He died in Braintree on January 14, 1890, at age 76 and is recorded as being a lifelong bachelor. A burial location for White is unknown at this time, although one has been found for his father Elihu at the Ashwood Cemetery in Weymouth Landing, Massachusetts.
  The portrait of Naaman Loud White that adorns the top of his article here was featured in Duane Hamilton Hurd's History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Volume I, originally published in 1883.

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