Reuben Eaton Fenton
|Quantity:||4 boxes (1.25 cubic ft.)|
|Access:||Open to research|
|Acquisition:||See Provenance Note.|
|Processed By:||Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, December 1985; revised December 1993, and April 2006.|
Reuben Eaton Fenton was born near Frewsburg, Chautauqua County, New York, on July 4, 1819. At the age of twenty he entered the lumber business and soon became a prosperous merchant. He also studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1841. Fenton entered politics in the 1840s when he was elected supervisor of the Town of Carroll. In 1852 he was elected to Congress as a Democrat, where he distinguished himself as an opponent to the extension of slavery in passionate speeches against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. For this reason, he left the Democratic Party to help organize the Republican Party in 1854. He was elected to Congress again in 1856, and served continuously until 1865, when he became governor of New York State. Both as a congressman and as governor, he was a strong supporter of the Lincoln administration and its policies. In 1869 he was elected to the United States Senate and held that office for one term. He failed in his attempt to be re-elected because of a patronage dispute with Roscoe Conkling. In 1878 he was appointed chairman of the International Monetary Conference in Paris. He died in Jamestown, New York, August 24, 1885.
Scope and Contents Note:
The Reuben Eaton Fenton papers contain manuscripts and printed material related to his career in politics and government. Manuscripts include an outline and select chapters for a proposed biography, written circa 1869; letters written by Fenton concerning official business and political matters; and speeches on a variety of topics. The most interesting speeches discuss the issues of the federal election campaign of 1868 and an endorsement of James G. Blaine for president in 1884. In addition, there are a bound folio containing telegrams he received as governor of New York that concern the post-Civil War mustering out of volunteer militia regiments and matters of political patronage, and a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings related to Fenton’s nomination for vice president on the Republican Party ticket of 1868.
The printed documents in these papers relate chiefly to Fenton’s official duties as a member on Congress. Included are speeches on such issues as the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Revolutionary War veterans’ pension claims, and Federal government finances. Non-Congressional material includes election campaign speeches and addresses related to the rift between Fenton and Roscoe Conkling.
Most of the documents in these papers were donated to the New York State Library in December 1937 by Cecile Gifford (Mrs. John W.) Minturn of Jamestown, New York. She was the granddaughter of Reuben Eaton Fenton. Accretions were made to the series in 1993 and 2006 with the transfer of several items previously accessioned separately by this repository. The original accession number of these items is indicated in parenthesis following the description of the item in the box and folder list. Further information regarding the acquisition of a particular item is found in accession logs, which are made available upon request.
Box and Folder List:
|1||1||Biographical sketch of the life of Reuben Eaton Fenton from 1819 to 1869; includes an outline in the form of a table of contents and excerpts of select chapters, some of which may have been compiled by Josephine Fenton, ca, 1869. (30 p.)|
|1||2||Letters written by R.E. Fenton, 1854-1885; original accession number in parenthesis. (18 items )
|1||3||Speech: “Rebellion Losses,” U.S. House, May 15, 1862 (printed)|
|1||4||Speeches , manuscript drafts and news clippings, Governor of New York, 1865-1868 (5 items)
|1||5||Speech at Jamestown, New York, September 19, 1868, regarding issues of the U.S. Senate campaign. (10 p. Printed; with annotation)|
|1||6||Speech endorsing James G. Blaine for President, 1884. (9 p.)|
|1||7||Speech: Eulogy of Bishop Simpson, A.S. cut signature, n.d. (13 p.)|
|1||8||Speech to Chautauqua Agricultural Society, September 28, 1853, Ms, ca.35 p.|
|1||9||Speech on agricultural matters. A.S. cut signature, n.d. (47 p.)|
|1||10||Speech at a ceremony for laying a cornerstone of an orphanage in Jamestown, New York. A.S. cut signature, n.d. (10 p.)|
|1||11||Speech delivered at a memorial service and unveiling of a monument in honor of soldiers from Cattaraugus County, New York, who died in action during the Civil War. A.S. cut signature, n.d. (5 p.)|
|1||12||Speech delivered to Saint James School, [Jamestown, N.Y.?] (43 p.)|
|2||1||Printed Speeches: U.S. House of Representatives (8 items)
February 9, 1855. (7 p.)
|2||2||Printed Speeches: U.S. Senate, 1870-1873 (6 items)
|2||3||Printed Speeches: General
|2||4||Congressional Documents (printed)
|2||5||Documents bearing the signature of Reuben Fenton, 1865-1868; original accession number in parenthesis. (4 items)
|2||6||Portraits of Reuben Eaton Fenton as Governor of New York State, 1865-1969 (2 items)
|3||Telegram Book, 1865-1868. (1 v. folio, 114 p. 41 cm.) (accession number: BD3925); Received by R.E. Fenton concerning official business and political matters.|
|4||Scrapbook of news clippings related to the nomination of Reuben Fenton for Vice President of the United States on the Republican party ticket, 1867-1868.
(1v. 202 p. 32 cm.) (transfer from book collection; accession number: A330790A)