- William M. Evarts
Infobox US Cabinet official
name=William Maxwell Evarts
United States Attorney General
July 17, 1868
March 4, 1869
Ebenezer R. Hoar
United States Secretary of State
March 12, 1877
March 7, 1881
James G. Blaine
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
New York City, New York, U.S.
spouse=Helen Minerva Bingham Wardner
Lawyer, Statesman, Politician
William Maxwell Evarts (
February 6, 1818– February 28, 1901) was an American lawyer and statesman who served as US Secretary of State, US Attorney Generaland US Senatorfrom New York. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of author, editor, and Indian removalopponent Jeremiah Evarts, and the grandson of Declaration of Independence signer Roger Sherman.
chool, family, and early career
Boston Latin School, graduated from Yale Collegein 1837 and then attended Harvard Law School. While at Yale he became a member of the secret society Skull and Bones, but later in life spoke out against such societies at the 1873 Yale commencement alumni meeting, claiming they bred snobbishness. [ Alexandra Robbins, "Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power", Little, Brown and Company, 2002, Robbins, page 131, 199.] [Chester Leonard Barrows, "William M. Evarts, Lawyer, Diplomat, Statesman", University of North Carolina press, 1941, page 12]
He was admitted to the bar in
New Yorkin 1841, and soon took high rank in his profession. He married Helen Minerva Bingham Wardner in 1843. They had 12 children between 1845 and 1862, all born in New York City.
A Whig Party supporter before joining the fledgling Republican Party, Evarts was appointed an assistant United States district attorney and served from 1849-1853. In 1860 he was chairman of the New York delegation to the
Republican National Conventionwhere he placed Senator William H. Seward's name in nomination for President. In 1861 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senatefrom New York. He was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1867-1868.
He was chief counsel for President
Andrew Johnsonduring the impeachment trial, and from July 1868 until March 1869 he was Johnson's Attorney General of the United States. In 1872 he was counsel for the United Statesbefore the tribunal of arbitrationon the Alabama claims at Geneva, Switzerland.
Evarts served as counsel for President-elect
Rutherford B. Hayes, on behalf of the Republican Party, before the Electoral Commission in the disputed U.S. presidential election of 1876. During President Rutherford B. Hayes's administration he was United States Secretary of State. He was a delegate to the International Monetary Conference at Paris 1881.
From 1885 to 1891 he was a U.S. Senator from
New York. While in Congress (49th, 50th and 51st Congresses), he served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Library from 1887 to 1891. As an orator Senator Evarts stood in the foremost rank, and some of his best speeches were published.
He led the American fund-raising effort for the pedestal for the
Statue of Libertyand spoke at its unveiling on October 28, 1886.
Senator Evarts retired from public life due to ill health in 1891. He was also part of a law practice in New York City called Evarts, Southmoyd and Choate.He died in
New York Cityand was buried at Ascutney Cemeteryin Windsor, Vermont.
William was a member of the extended
Baldwin, Hoar & Sherman family, which had many members in American politics. Ebenezer R. Hoar, a first cousin of Evarts, was a U.S. Attorney General, Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusettsand representative in Congress. The two were best friends, and shared similar professional pursuits and political beliefs. Each served, in succession, as United States Attorney General. Some of Evarts's other first cousins include U.S. Senator & Governor of the State of Connecticut, Roger Sherman Baldwin; U.S. Senator for Massachusetts (brother of Ebenezer R.) George F. Hoar; and Californiastate senator and founding trustee of the University of California, Sherman Day.
Maxwell Evartsgraduated from Yale College in 1884, where he was also a member of Skull and Bones. He served as a New York City District attorney, and then later as General Counsel for E. H. Harriman, which later became the Union Pacific Railroad, president of two (2) Windsor, VT banks, and the chief financial backer of the Gridley Automatic Lathe "(manufactured by the Windsor Machine Co.)". In politics, Maxwell served as a representative in the Vermont state legislature and was a Vermont State Fair Commissioner.
Allen Wardner Evarts, another son, graduated from
Yale Collegein 1869. He supported the founding of Wolf's Head Society, and was first president of its alumni association and held the position for 20 years over two separate terms. He was a law partner, corporate president, trustee of Vassar College, and a New York clubman.
Evarts Boutell Greenewas the famed American historian appointed Columbia University's first De Witt ClintonProfessor of History 1923, Department Chairman from 1926 to 1939. Chairman of the Columbia Institute of Japanese Studies, 1936–39. He was a noted authority on the American Colonial and Revolutionary Warperiods. Another relative, Henry Sherman Boutell, was a member of the Illinoisstate house of representatives, 1884; member of the U.S. Representative from Illinois from 1897 to 1911 (6th District 1897-1903, 9th District 1903-11); delegate, Republican National Conventionfrom Illinois, 1908; U.S. Minister, Switzerland, 1911-13.
Great great nephew
Roger Sherman Greene II, the son of Daniel Crosby Greene and Mary Jane (Forbes) Greene; was the U.S. Vice Consul in Rio de Janeiro, 1903-04; Nagasaki, 1904-05; Kobe, 1905; U.S. Consul in Vladivostok, 1907; Harbin, 1909-11; U.S. Consul General in Hankow, 1911-14.
Great great nephew
Jerome Davis Greene(1874-1959): President, Lee, Higginson & Company from 1917 to 1932; Secretary, Harvard UniversityCorporation from 1905 to 1910 & 1934-1943; General Manager of the Rockefeller Institute1910-1012, assistant and secretary to John D. Rockefeller Jr.as Trustee, Rockefeller Institute; Trustee, Rockefeller Foundation; Trustee, Rockefeller General Education Board from 1910 to 1939. executive secretary, American Section - Allied Maritime Transport Council, 1918 Joint Secretary of the Reparations, Paris Peace Conference, 1919; Chairman, American Council Institute of Pacific Relations, 1929-32; Trustee, Brookings Institutionof Washington from 1928 to 1945; and a founding member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Archibald Coxserved as a U.S. Solicitor General and special prosecutor during President Richard Nixon's Watergate Scandal, whereas Evarts defended a president in his impeachment trial. In a sense, they both successfully argued their cases, which represent two of the three U.S. Presidential impeachment efforts. An impeachment trial was never held in Nixon's case, due to the president's resignation.
William M. Evarts was a running gag in the Jack Benny radio episode of 53-04-05 Easter Parade.
* [http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=PED&db=glencoe&id=I40078 Family tree of William Maxwell Evarts]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6653990 William Maxwell Evarts] Find A Grave
* [http://www.clements.umich.edu/Webguides/D/DiHoar.html The Ebenezer Hoar Papers]
* [http://oasis.harvard.edu:10080/oasis/deliver/~law00148 Evarts, William Maxwell from 1818 to 1901. Papers from 1849 to 1887]
* Chief Justice
Salmon P. Chase
* [http://politicalgraveyard.com/families/1064.html Baldwin family of Connecticut] Political Graveyard
* [http://politicalgraveyard.com/families/1727.html Hoar family of Massachusetts] Political Graveyard
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