Depew, Chauncey Mitchell

Depew, Chauncey Mitchell

(dĭpyo͞o`), 1834–1928, American orator, politician, and railroad president, b. Peekskill, N.Y. Admitted to the bar in 1856, he was a Republican member (1862–63) of the state legislature and then secretary of state of New York (1863–65). In 1866 he refused the ministry to Japan in favor of serving the railroad interests of Commodore Vanderbilt. He served as general counsel (1875–82), vice president (1882–85), president (1885–99), and chairman of the board (1899–1928) of the New York Central lines. Noted as an after-dinner speaker, he used his oratorical abilities to deliver nominating speeches at the Republican conventions of 1888 and 1896. He was elected U.S. Senator (1899–1911) but failed to secure reelection in 1910, partly because an investigation of life insurance companies revealed that he received an annual retainer from the Equitable Life Assurance Company.

Bibliography

See his memoirs (1922).

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Depew, Chauncey Mitchell

(1834–1928) lawyer, businessman, public official; born in Peekskill, N.Y. He worked as a lawyer after graduating from Yale (1856) and participated in Republican Party affairs. He was the first American ambassador to Japan (1866). Rising through the Vanderbilt industrial-financial empire, he became president of the New York Central Railroad in 1885. Depew served in the U.S. Senate from 1899–1911 (Rep., N.Y.). He was a famous orator and after-dinner wit. "I get my exercise acting as pallbearer to my friends who exercise," he once quipped, explaining his good health and long life.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.