Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar

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Hoar, Ebenezer Rockwood,

1816–95, American lawyer, U.S. Attorney General (1869–70), b. Concord, Mass. While serving (1846) in the Massachusetts senate, he declared that he would rather be a "Conscience Whig" than a "Cotton Whig," thus originating an antislavery slogan. He was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Grant, one of Grant's few good appointments. When Grant named him (1870) associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Senate, hostile to Hoar because he had insisted on filling new judgeships in the federal circuit courts with able rather than political appointees, refused to confirm the appointment. Grant, seeking Senate support for his project of annexing Santo Domingo, in June, 1870, abruptly requested Hoar's resignation as Attorney General. He continued to serve, however, until his successor was sworn in (Nov., 1870), and was the first head of the Dept. of Justice. Later Hoar helped negotiate the Treaty of Washington that settled the Alabama claimsAlabama claims,
claims made by the U.S. government against Great Britain for the damage inflicted on Northern merchant ships during the American Civil War by the Alabama
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, and in 1873–75 he served in Congress.
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Hoar, Ebenezer Rockwood

(1816–95) judge, public official; born in Concord, Mass. (Son of Samuel Hoar). He graduated from Harvard in 1835 and studied law with his father, a prominent attorney. Active in the antislavery movement, he coined the term "Conscience Whig" for his wing of the party. He was a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1859–69, and served a brief term as Grant's attorney general (1869–70). In 1870 the Senate rejected his nomination for a U.S. Supreme Court seat because his views offended some senators. He left public service after a single term in the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., Mass.; 1873–75) and devoted his later years to Harvard alumni affairs.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.