Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dartmouth Republicans

A portrait of Amos Tuck taken in 1859, when he was 49 years old.
Last week we blogged about an influential Dartmouth alum, Salmon P. Chase, who was a member of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet as the Secretary of the Treasury from 1861 through 1864. He later went on to become the sixth Chief Justice of the United States. This week, we found a fascinating document connected to Chase hiding among the papers of another famous Dartmouth alum and lawyer, Amos Tuck. A member of the class of 1835, Tuck was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1842. Originally a member of the Democratic party, he rejected their pro-slavery stance and was disavowed by the party. He then proceeded to run, and win, as an independent before gathering a convention to support an anti-slavery congressional candidate named John P. Hale.

This convention was the spark that was ultimately responsible for the creation of the Republican
Amos Tuck's naval commission signed by Abraham Lincoln and Salmon ChaseParty in New Hampshire. In 1853, Tuck convened a secret meeting of men who were opposed to slavery and suggested that they create a party called  the "Republicans." Following on the heels of this successful meeting, Tuck assisted in the formal creation of the state party in 1856. Soon after, he served as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1856 and 1860. Some historians assert that Abraham Lincoln, a personal friend of Tuck, would never have received the presidential nomination if not for his efforts.

A portrait of an old Amos TuckAfter leaving politics, Tuck received a naval officer's commission and was stationed in Boston during the Civil War. Here at Rauner, we have the document itself, which was signed by both Abraham Lincoln and Salmon P. Chase. One wonders how much of the war really reached Tuck in Boston, although there were riots in the city in 1863 over the attempt to draft large numbers of Irish immigrants into the Union Army. Regardless, Tuck knew enough of the horrors of war to persuade his son Edward, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1862, to pay a fee to avoid being conscripted. After the war, Amos would go on to make a fortune in the railroad business; Edward would later use railroad stock to found the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance at Dartmouth College in honor of his father.

To learn more about Amos Tuck, come to Rauner and explore the Tuck Family Papers (MS-442) and Amos Tuck 1835's alumni file.

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