Thomas Collier Platt
– March 6
) -- a two-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives
(1873-1877) and a three-term U.S.
Senator from New York in the years
1881 and 1897-1909 -- is best known for his contribution to the
creation of the City of
Greater New York which incorporated the four outer
boroughs of Kings, Queens, Richmond and Bronx
Platt was born to William Platt, a lawyer, and Lesbia Hinchman in
Owego, New York
on July 15, 1833.
His father, a successful attorney and strict Presbyterian
, tried to encourage his son to
enter the ministry. Accordingly, the young Platt was prepared for
college at the Owego Academy and attended Yale College
(1850-1852), where he studied
theology at the behest of his father. But Thomas Platt had no
interest in the ministry and failed to earn a degree. After leaving
Yale in 1852, he entered into a variety of employments.
out as a druggist (a business in which he was engaged for two
decades), was briefly an editor of a small newspaper, served as
president of the Tioga National Bank, and was interested in the
lumbering business in Michigan.
also acted as president of the Southern Central and other railways.
Platt was President of the Tennessee Coal & Iron Company for
several years. In 1852 he married Ellen Lucy Barstow, with whom he
had three sons.
clerk of Tioga
County from 1859 to 1861.
He was elected as a
and the Forty-fourth United States
(March 4, 1873-March 3, 1877).
He was elected as a Republican
to the United States Senate
in 1881, and
served from March 4, 1881, to May 16, 1881, when he and Roscoe Conkling
resigned because of a
disagreement with President James
over federal appointments in New York . (Platt
resigned at Conkling's insistence, earning him the nickname of "Me
Too" Platt.) The immediate occasion of their resignation was the
appointment of W. H. Robertson
as collector of the port of New York City.
Due in part to the subsequent assassination
of the President, their candidatature for election to the United
States Senate to succeed themselves failed.
He was the chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-seventh Congress
was secretary and director of the United States Express Co. in 1879
and elected president of the company in 1880. He was a member and
president of the Board of Quarantine Commissioners of New York
1880-1888. He was a member of the Republican National Committee
and was elected to the United States Senate in 1896 and was
reelected in 1902. Platt served from March 4, 1897, to March 3,
1909 and was not a candidate for reelection. He served as chairman
of the Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard
(Fifty-fifth Congress). He was on the Committee on Printing
(Fifty-sixth through Sixtieth Congresses), the Committee on Cuban
Relations (Fifty-ninth Congress), the Committee on Interoceanic
Canals (Fifty-ninth Congress).
He died in New York City, March 6, 1910 and was interred in
Evergeen Cemetery, Owego, N.Y.
On January 21, 1897, his photograph appeared in the New York Tribune
as “the first
reproduction to appear in a mass
circulation daily paper,” according to Time-Life’s
In order to increase his power as a political boss
, Platt steered passage of the
Greater New York bill in 1898. The bill incorporated the boroughs of
Brooklyn, Queens, and
Island into the city, thereby creating New York City as it exists today.
Seeing in New York governor Theodore
a rival for political dominance of the state, Platt
pushed for him to be on the 1900 Republican National ticket as
President William McKinley
presidential running-mate. Roosevelt played a major part in
McKinley winning the re-election and he took over after McKinley
was assassinated in office.
- "Platt, Thomas Collier." Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge,
volume 15, copyright 1991. Grolier Inc., ISBN 0-7172-5300-7