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Thomas C.
Platt
Thomas Collier Platt (July 15, 1833March 6, 1910) -- a two-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1873-1877) and a three-term U.S. Senator from New Yorkmarker 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 counties.

Biography

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. He started 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 Michiganmarker. He 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.

He was clerk of Tioga Countymarker from 1859 to 1861. He was elected as a Republican to the Forty-third United States Congress and the Forty-fourth United States Congress (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 Garfield 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 Citymarker. 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). Platt 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.

Historical impact

On January 21, 1897, his photograph appeared in the New York Tribune as “the first halftone reproduction to appear in a mass circulation daily paper,” according to Time-Life’s Photojournalism.

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 Brooklynmarker, Queensmarker, and Staten Islandmarker into the city, thereby creating New York Citymarker as it exists today.

Seeing in New York governor Theodore Roosevelt a rival for political dominance of the state, Platt pushed for him to be on the 1900 Republican National ticket as President William McKinley's vice presidential running-mate. Roosevelt played a major part in McKinley winning the re-election and he took over after McKinley was assassinated in office.

References

  1. "Platt, Thomas Collier." Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, volume 15, copyright 1991. Grolier Inc., ISBN 0-7172-5300-7


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