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Boutwell, George Sewall

BOUTWELL, GEORGE SEWALL (1818-1905), American statesman, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on the 28th of January 1818. He was reared on a farm, and at an early age began a mercantile career at Groton, Mass. There he studied law and in 1836 was admitted to the bar, but did not begin practice for many years. In 1842-1844 and again in 1847-1850 he served in the state house of representatives, and became the recognized leader on the Democratic side; he was thrice defeated for Congress, and was twice an unsuccessful candidate for governor. In 1851, however, by means of "Free-Soil" votes, he was chosen governor, and was re-elected by the same coalition in 1852. In the following year he took an active part in the state constitutional convention. He became a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1853, and as its secretary in 1855-1861 prepared valuable reports and rendered much service to the state's school system. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854 had finally alienated him from the Democratic party, and he became one of the founders of the new Republican party in the state. He played an influential part in the Republican national convention in 1860, and in 1862 after the passage of the war tax measures he was appointed by President Lincoln the first commissioner of internal revenue, which department he organized. From 1863 to 1869 he was a representative in Congress, taking an influential part in debate, and acting as one of the managers of President Johnson's impeachment. From 1869 to 1873 he was secretary of the treasury in President Grant's cabinet, and from 1873 until 1877 was a United States senator from Massachusetts. Under an appointment by President Hayes, he prepared the second edition of the United States Revised Statutes (1878). In 1880 he represented the United States before the commission appointed in accordance with the treaty of that year, between France and the United States, to decide the claims brought by French citizens against the United States for acts of the American authorities during the Civil War, and the claims of American citizens against France for acts of French authorities during the war between France and Mexico, the Franco-German War and the Commune. He opposed the acquisition by the United States of the Philippine Islands, became president of the Anti-Imperialistic League, and was a presidential elector on the Bryan (Democratic) ticket in 1900. He died at Groton, Massachusetts, on the 28th of February 1905. He published various volumes, including The Constitution of the United States at the End of the First Century (1895), and Reminiscences of Sixty Years in Public Affairs (2 vols., New York, 1902).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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