Hopedale History
    March 15, 2016
    No. 296
    Benjamin Helm Bristow, Part 2

    Hopedale in March   

    Unidentified photos of World War II (and possibly Korea) veterans.   

    During the past two weeks, additions have been made to the following pages on hope1842.com: G&U
    Crossings (Photos of the replacement of the Mendon Street crossing)     Mendon Street Mystery House (A
    little information sent by a relative of a family there long ago.)    Gannett Family (Obituary for Dorothy Gannett
    West     Deaths     


    "They were very nice, even if they did rob us," said Joseph Gibbs, 82 of 207 Dutcher Street this morning. That
    was the feeling of both he and his 82 year old wife, Juliet (Fiske) Gibbs, following a harrowing experience
    last night when two thieves entered their modest brick bungalow, shut them in a closet, and robbed the
    house safe of nearly $100. Milford Daily News, March 17, 1962

    The town hall still commands attention as Hopedale's finest landmark, though it presently needs
    maintenance after years of service. The shop fronts have been renovated, which detracts from the original
    design and ornamental appointments. Also gone is the iron cresting atop the room. Nevertheless, it
    remains a dignified building. John S. Garner, The Model Company Town, 1982


                                                          Benjamin Helm Bristow, Part 2

    The following is from both the Memorial of Benjamin Helm Bristow, and Benjamin Helm Bristow, Border
    State Politician by Ross A. Webb. I always cite sources for material, but I'm not doing a term paper here, so
    for this purpose, I don't think full footnotes are necessary. I think it's enough to say that some parts are from
    the Memorial and other parts from Border State Politician. Some paragraphs are quoted directly and some
    are summarized.

    Mr. Bristow's term as State Senator began upon December 7, 1863. During its continuance, in the various
    struggles which took place regarding the efforts of the National Government to suppress the Rebellion, Mr.
    Bristow was the leader of those who were constantly in favor of giving the Government the utmost measure
    of support. Among other things, he advanced and voted for the unconditional ratification of the thirteenth
    amendment to the Constitution, providing for the abolition of slavery.

    Mr. Bristow resigned from the Senate in 1865, and removed to Louisville. In November of that year, he was
    appointed to the office of Assistant United States Attorney for the district of Kentucky. In 1866, he was
    appointed to the office of United States Attorney for that district. A condition of great disorder existed
    throughout the state. The Ku-Klux-Klan was constantly perpetrating acts of personal violence upon those,
    both black and white, who had supported the cause of the Union, and frauds upon the revenue were the
    general practice. It became Mr. Bristow's duty to enforce through the courts the national statutes protecting
    all citizens in the enjoyment of their civil rights, and securing to the Government the efficient collection of its
    necessary revenue.

    In 1867, Mr. Bristow was nominated by the Republican members of the legislature as their choice for United
    States Senator from Kentucky. However, in those days senators were chosen by the legislature, and since
    the Democrats were in the majority, their candidate won.

    In 1870, Mr. Bristow went into private law practice with John Harlan, who later became a United States
    Supreme Court justice. In October of that year, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as the first
    Solicitor-General of the United States. He resigned from that position in November 1872 and went back to
    practicing law. In December 1873, Grant nominated him as Attorney General, but due political complications
    involving other appointments at the time, he wasn't confirmed. However, in June 1874, he became Grant's
    Secretary of the Treasury. According to the Memorial, "His administration was characterized by great
    advances in the economy and efficiency with which the public business was transacted, and by vigorous
    and unflinching enforcement of the laws concerning collection of the internal revenue. "

    One of the major events during Bristow's term at the Treasury was what was referred to as the whiskey
    scandal. An examination of the evidence led Bristow to conclude that there was an annual production and
    sale of between twelve and fifteen million gallons of whiskey on which no tax was paid.

    Bristow was successful in prosecuting many of the tax evaders, but two of the men involved, General Orville
    Babcock and General John McDonald, were friends of President Grant. This put a strain on the relationship
    which didn't end until Grant was within days of death. At that time he asked Bristow to visit him, and when he
    did, said, "I want to tell you that I misjudged you. I thought you were after Babcock to get to me and my
    administration. I was wrong, and you were right."

    When Bristow was under consideration for the Republican nomination for the presidency, much of his
    support came from New England. I haven't been able to find out how his daughter Nannie met Eben Draper,
    but the Drapers were very active in politics and it seems possible that it was through some connection or
    meeting with Bristow's supporters from Massachusetts. "In 1883, his daughter,  Nannie, married the wealthy
    textile manufacturer, Eben Sumner Draper, of Hopedale, Massachusetts. Bristow was 'especially gratified.'
    as she had married a man who had 'something to do,' and 'was willing to do it.' He encouraged Nannie to
    give her husband 'encouragement and sympathy,' for Draper was neither 'a loafer nor a dude.'"

    On the first ballot at the Republican convention in Cincinnati in 1976, James G. Blaine placed first with 276
    votes, and Bristow came in second with 169. Way back in seventh place, with 45 votes, was Rutherford B.
    Hayes. With the top candidates unable to break through and obtain a majority, by the seventh ballot, the dark
    horse, Hayes won the nomination. In the general election, Hayes defeated the choice of the Democrats,
    Samuel J. Tilden, to win the presidency. (These numbers are from Border State Politician. Those given in
    the Memorial are slightly different.)

    After spending some time back in Louisville, Bristow moved to New York in 1878, where he formed a law
    partnership. During those years, he brought a number of cases to the Supreme Court of the United States.
    He also continued to work for a cause that had long been important to him: civil service reform. In 1879, he
    was elected as president of the American Bar Association.

    "Mr. Bristow died at New York, after a short illness, upon June 22, 1896. Amid the grassy slopes and shady
    trees at Woodlawn, he lies at rest." (Memorial of Benjamin Helm Bristow)

    Click here to see the Memorial and the first chapter of Border State Politician.

    Governor Eben Sumner and Nannie Bristow Draper   

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