Samuel Jones Tilden


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Tilden, Samuel Jones,

1814–86, American political figure, Democratic presidential candidate in 1876, b. New Lebanon, N.Y. Admitted to the bar in 1841, Tilden was an eminently successful lawyer, with many railroad companies as clients. He became a strong partisan of Martin Van BurenVan Buren, Martin,
1782–1862, 8th President of the United States (1837–41), b. Kinderhook, Columbia co., N.Y. Early Career

He was reared on his father's farm, was educated at local schools, and after reading law was admitted (1803) to the bar.
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 and the BarnburnersBarnburners,
radical element of the Democratic party in New York state from 1842 to 1848, opposed to the conservative Hunkers. The name derives from the fabled Dutchman who burned his barn to rid it of rats; by implication, the Barnburners would destroy corporations and public
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 in New York Democratic politics. Unlike other Free-Soil Democrats of the 1850s (see Free-Soil partyFree-Soil party,
in U.S. history, political party that came into existence in 1847–48 chiefly because of rising opposition to the extension of slavery into any of the territories newly acquired from Mexico.
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), he did not join the new Republican party and later disapproved of the Civil War. As state Democratic chairman after 1866 he sought reform and gathered much of the evidence of corruption that broke the notorious Tweed Ring (see Tweed, William MarcyTweed, William Marcy,
1823–78, American politician and Tammany leader, b. New York City. A bookkeeper, he became (1848) a volunteer fireman and as a result acquired influence in his ward. He was an alderman (1852–53) and sat (1853–55) in Congress.
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). Elected governor of New York (1874), he further enhanced his reputation for reform by his successful attack on the corrupt "Canal ring," which made illegal profits on repair and extension of the state canal system.

Tilden thus became the outstanding Democrat in the nation, and in 1876 his party nominated him for President. Rutherford B. HayesHayes, Rutherford Birchard,
1822–93, 19th President of the United States (1877–81), b. Delaware, Ohio, grad. Kenyon College, 1843, and Harvard law school, 1845. He became a moderately successful lawyer in Cincinnati and was made (1858) city solicitor.
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 was his Republican opponent. The campaign resulted in one of the most famous election disputes in American history. By a slim margin, Tilden received a majority of the popular vote, but there were double and conflicting returns of electoral votes from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina and a contest over one Oregon elector. To settle the unusual question, not covered by the Constitution, Congress created an electoral commission of five senators, five representatives, and five Supreme Court justices. Eight were Republicans and seven were Democrats, as plans for one independent failed. The commission, by partisan division, awarded (Mar. 2, 1877) Hayes all the disputed votes, making his total a majority of one (185 to 184). Tilden discouraged further contest. In his will he left a large sum toward establishing a free public library in New York City, and in 1895 this trust was joined with the Astor and Lenox libraries to form the New York Public LibraryNew York Public Library,
free library supported by private endowments and gifts and by the city and state of New York. It is the one of largest libraries in the world. The library was created by a 1895 law consolidating older reference libraries established by bequests of John
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.

Bibliography

See biographies by J. Bigelow (1895) and A. C. Flick (1939, repr. 1963); studies of the disputed 1876 election by P. L. Haworth, (1906, new ed. 1927, repr. 1966), K. Polakoff (1973), R. Morris (2003), and W. H. Rehnquist (2004).

Tilden, Samuel Jones

(1814–86) lawyer, public official; born in New Lebanon, N.Y. In poor health as a boy, he had little formal education, though he did manage to attend Yale for one term and law school in New York City. Admitted to the bar in 1841, he built a prosperous practice and became active in Democratic politics, leading the Free-Soil wing of the party and supporting the Union on the outbreak of the Civil War. After taking a leading role in breaking up Boss Tweed's "ring," he was elected governor of New York on a reform platform (1875–77). He ran for president as a Democrat in 1876 and won the popular vote in a close race; when an electoral commission awarded the disputed election to Rutherford B. Hayes, he returned to New York City and resumed his law practice. He left a Tilden Trust to support what became the New York Public Library.
References in periodicals archive ?
The sad plight of Samuel Jones Tilden was well stated by Irving Stone: "He won the race by a head, but it was before the day of the photo finish and the judges ruled him out.
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with Samuel Jones Tilden Trust.