David Bennett Hill Papers, 1872-1926
SC15275

Quantity: 66 boxes (ca. 30 cu. ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Information available upon request
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, November 1996. Revised February 2000

View catalog record

Biographical Note

David Bennett Hill was born at Havana, New York, on August 29, 1843. He was educated in common schools and at Havana Academy, and worked for a time as a clerk in a village store. In 1862 he went to Elmira and studied law in the office of Erastus P. Hart. He was admitted to the bar in 1864 and rapidly became prominent in the legal profession in Elmira. Becoming interested in local politics, he took an active part in Democratic Party campaigns nomination in 1892. Hill gained control of the New York State delegation as the result of the “snap convention” of February 22, 1892, but it was not enough to deny Cleveland the nomination. Hill’s service in the Senate was also noted for his interest in fiscal and revenue legislation, including opposing an income tax and supporting the repeal of the McKinley Tariff Act and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

Hill ran for governor again in 1894 but lost to Levi P. Morton. The Republican sweep of the New York State Legislature in 1896 effectively ended his career in the Senate in 1897. Hill returned to Albany to resume the practice of law that was quite lucrative up to the time of his death. He remained active in politics until 1905, although he did not again hold an elected office. Hill died October 20, 1910, at his residence, “Wolfert’s Roost,” near Albany, New York

In 1871 and 1872 Hill served in the New York State Assembly and was an ally of Governor Samuel B. Tilden. He was elected mayor of Elmira in 1881 and in 1882, was nominated for lieutenant governor of New York State as the running mate of Grover Cleveland. When Cleveland resigned in 1885 to assume the Presidency of the United States, Hill became governor. He was elected governor in 1886 and re-elected in 1888.

Governor Hill’s administration was notable for its fiscal conservatism and limiting the expansion of bureaus and commissions. He was an advocate of home rule for cities and other municipalities, especially in regards to opposing special laws that concerned one particular place. He also supported reform of the codes of civil and criminal procedure, the substitution of electrocution for hanging in cases of capital punishment, the abolition of contract labor in relation to state prisons, the institution of Labor Day and the Saturday half holiday, and the establishment of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. He also is remembered for his opposition to legislation restricting the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages and for his veto of the state census bill.

Hill’s reputation was that of a strong party man and a machine politician. Winning and partisan advantage were a top priority even if unscrupulous methods were used to win elections. Perhaps his greatest skill was playing upstate New York against New York City and Tammany.

Hill was elected to the United States Senate in 1891 despite the covert opposition of Cleveland, who had increasingly disliked Hill’s policies and methods. The principal feature of his Senate career was his battle with Cleveland over control of New York patronage, a struggle which Hill won. They also sparred when both Hill and Cleveland sought the Democratic Party’s presidential.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of David Bennett Hill consist of two series. The first series (Boxes 1-38 and Box 66) consists of papers created by Hill mostly in relation to his political and official activities as governor of New York State, 1885-1891, and as a member of the United States Senate, 1892-1897. The second series (Boxes 39-65) is the papers of George Stephenson Bixby related primarily to his work on an unpublished biography of David B. Hill.

The David Hill papers consist chiefly of correspondence which is arranged chronologically through 1886, then alphabetically for each year thereafter. Generally, the correspondence concerns election campaign activities and matters of political patronage as well as official duties. Prominent correspondents include Grover Cleveland, Daniel S. Lamont, Roswell P. Flower, and Samuel J. Tilden. Other papers include reports and proceedings of various legal cases, petitions regarding several bills pending in the New York State Legislature, and copies of printed speeches. There also are correspondence and related legal documents compiled by Peter Manwiller, who served as the principal executor of Hill’s estate.

The papers of George S. Bixby include two typed drafts of the unpublished biography: “The Life and Times of David Bennett Hill.” In addition, preparatory material for the biography is included such as research notes, annotated speeches, and news clippings. Also included is correspondence of Bixby, William C. Osborn, George Parker, Alton B. Parker, and others regarding subscription sales of the biography. Together the papers of David B. Hill and George Bixby provide a rich source of information on New York State and national politics and government in the post-reconstruction period of the nineteenth century.

Related Resources

The George S. Bixby Papers was originally a separate collection, SC12136. There are additional George S. Bixby papers not related to Hill in the Bixby Family Collection, SC16585.

Box and Folder List

Series I: David Bennett Hill Papers

Box Folder(s) Contents
1 1 Biographical
    Correspondence, 1872-1909
1 2 1872-1879
1 3 1880-1881
1 4 1882-1883
1 5 1884
1 6-12 1885 (January-September)
2 1-3 1885 (October - December)
2 4-6 1886
2 7-9 1887
2 10-12 1888
3 1 1889
3 2-5 1890
3 6-12 1891 (A-L)
4 1-7 1891 (M-Z)
4 8-12 1892 (Alabama-Colorado)
5 1-14 1892 (Connecticut-New Mexico)
6 1-13 1892 (New York-Texas)
7 1-6 1892 (Utah-Wyoming)
7 7-15 1893
8 8-14 1894 (A-M)
9 1-8 1894 (N-Z)
9 9-14 1895 (A-H)
10 1-8 1895 (I-Z)
10 9-14 1896 (A-C)
11 1-13 1896 (D-M)
12 1-10 1896 (N-Z)
12 11-14 1897 (A-C)
13 1-11 1897 (D-Z)
13 12-14 1898 (A-D)
14 1-15 1898 (E-Z)
15 1-12 1899
16 1-11 1900 (A-F)
17 1-12 1900 (G-O)
18 1-11 1900 (P-Z)
19 1-12 1901 (A-K)
20 1-12 1901 (L-Z)
21 1-12 1902 (A-E)
22 1-12 1902 (F-M)
23 1-13 1902 (M-S)
24 1-7 1902 (T-Z)
24 8-14 1903 (A-R)
25 1-3 1903 (S-W)
25 4-11 1904 (A-H)
26 1-11 1904 (I-Z)
26 12-14 1905
27 1-5 1906
27 6-9 1907
27 10-12 1908
27 13 1909-1910
    Correspondence, Special Files
28 1 Letters written by David B. Hill, 1874-1907
28 2 Photocopies of letters of Grover Cleveland letters, 1882-1895 (originals in Box 66 in VAULT)
28 2A Transcriptions of letters of Grover Cleveland to David B. Hill, 1882-1895
28 3-6 Letters: David Hill to Carl Loeffler, 1895-1910
28 7-8 Letters: Morton Marble to David Hill, 1891
28 9 Invitations, 1902
28 10 Telegrams, 1885
    Legislation, 1886-1888
29 1-2 Penal Code 283 (Rape), 1886
29 3 Hawk Street Viaduct, (Albany), 1888
29 4-5 McEvoy Grain Elevator Bill, 1888
29 6-10 Arcade Railway Bill, 1888
29 11 Miscellaneous
30 1-11 High License (Liquor) Bill, 1888
31 1-7 High License Bill (continued)
    Legal Case Files, 1894-1910
32 1-3 Equitable Life Assurance Society, 1894-1906
32 4 [Roland Burnham] Molineux Case, 1901
32 5-6 Annie Oakley, Libel Suit, 1903-1904
32 7-11 Albert T. Patrick, Murder Conviction Appeal, 1901-1909
33 1-8 Patrick Case (continued)
33 9-11 William McEwen, Probate, 1909-1910
    Personal and Family Estate Papers, 1877-1920
34 1 Eunice Hill Estate, 1877-1884
34 2 Last Will and Testament of David B. Hill, 1906
34 3 Inventory of Goods, Chattels and Credits, 1911
34 4 Probate Proceedings, 1911
34 5 Cashbook of Goods and Chattels Sold
34 6 David B. Hill-Peter Manweller Correspondence, 1906-1911
34 7-9 Peter Manweller Correspondence, 1910-1920
35   Checkbooks, 1904-1910 (5 vols.)
36   Canceled Checks, 1887-1900
    Printed Speeches of David B. Hill, 1886-1908
37 1 Albany Bicentennial Oration, July 22, 1886
37 2 Young Men’s Democratic Club of Brooklyn, February 22, 1889
37 3 Inaugural Address, Albany, N.Y., January 1, 1889
37 4 Young Men’s Democratic Club, New York, N.Y., May 27, 1889
37 5 “The Great Political Issue,” Indianapolis, Indiana, July 1, 1890
37 6 Democratic Ratification Meeting, New York, N.Y., October 8, 1891
37 7 “The Issues for 1892,” Elmira, N.Y., December 4, 1891
37 8 Democratic Ratification Meeting, Brooklyn, N.Y., September 19, 1892
37 9 “The Silver Question,” U.S. Senate, February 6, 1893
37 10 “Personal Liberty,” Hop Growers Association, Sylvan Beach, N.Y., July 29, 1893
37 11 Sherman Silver Purchase Act Repeal, U.S. Senate, August 25, 1893
37 12 Democratic Mass Meeting, Brooklyn, N.Y., October 23, 1893
37 13 “Tariff Bill and Income Tax,” U.S. Senate, April 9, 1894
37 14 “Democracy vs. Socialism,” U.S. Senate, July 3, 1894
37 15 “Parliamentary Reform,” U.S. Senate, December 18, 1894
37 16 Democracy of Kings County, Brooklyn, N.Y., October 20, 1898
37 17 Business Men’s Democratic Association, New York, November 2, 1898
37 18 Campaign Speeches, 1900
37 19 Opening the Democratic Campaign, Elmira, N.Y., September 25, 1900
37 20 Democracy of Kings County, Brooklyn, N.Y., October1, 1900
37 21 Jefferson Club of Erie County, Buffalo, N.Y., April 13, 1901
37 22 Democratic Club, New York, N.Y., April 14, 1902
37 23 Tilden Club, New York, N.Y., June 19, 1902
37 24 Roswell P. Flower Memorial, Watertown, N.Y., September 1, 1902
37 25 Academy of Music, Brooklyn, N.Y., October 11, 1902
37 26 Jefferson Day Banquet, Albany, N.Y., April 13, 1903
37 27 Niagara County Pioneer Association, Olcott Beach, N.Y., August 19, 1903
37 28 George B. McClellan Honorary Banquet, New York, N.Y., January 4, 1904
37 29 “The Lawlessness of President Roosevelt Displayed in the Panama Affair,” Albany, N.Y., October 4, 1904
37 30 Bar Association Banquet, Albany, N.Y., May 21, 1908
37 31 George Clinton Re-internment, Kingston, N.Y., May 30, 1908
    Delegate Rosters, New York Democratic Party Conventions
38 1 Syracuse, 1898
38 2 Saratoga Springs, 1900
38 3 Albany, 1904
    Printed Material
38 4 Campaign Brochures and Flyers, 1886-1888
38 5 Gubernatorial Campaign, 1894
38 6 Farewell Banquet Program, December 21, 1891
38 7 Extracts from the Congressional Record, ca. 1900
38 8 David Bennett Hill Memorial, June 19, 1911

Series II: George S. Bixby Papers

Box Folder(s) Contents
    “Life and Times of David Bennett Hill” - First Draft
39 1 Chapter I: “Foundation of a Career”
39 2 Chapter II: “A Rising Politician”
39 3 Chapter III: “The Governorship”
39 4 Chapter IV: “Party Leadership to 1891”
39 5 Chapter V: “Philosophy of Environment”
39 6 Chapter VI: “The New Against the Old”
39 7 Chapter VII: “Senatorial Service”
40 1 Chapter VIII: “Wreck and Rebuilding of a Party”
40 2 Chapter IX: “Personal Equation”
40 3 Chapter X: “Late Activities”
    “Life and Times of David Bennett Hill” -  Second Draft (same chapter titles)
40 4 Chapter I
40 5 Chapter II
40 6 Chapter III
40 7 Chapter IV
40 8 Chapter V
41 1 Chapter VI
41 2 Chapter VII
41 3 Chapter VIII
41 4 Chapter IX
41 5 Chapter X
41 6-7 Notes and appendices
    Annotated Speeches of David B. Hill, 1885-1890
42 1-2 1885
42 3-4 1886
42 5-6 1887
42 7-9 1888
42 10-11 1889
43 1 1890
43 2-6 1891
43 7-8 1892
43 9 1893
43 10-11 1894
43 12-13 1895
44 1 1896
44 2 1897
44 3 1898-1899
44 4-5 1900
44 6 1901
44 7-8 1902
44 9 1903
44 10 1904
44 11 1905-1910
    Commentaries on Hill’s Political Activities, and Opinions
45 1 Hill’s Character and New York State politics, 1880s
45 2 Labor issues in New York State politics, 1892-1893
45 3 Grand Army of the Republic, 1888
45 4 McKinley Tariff Bill, 1891
45 5 Sherman Silver Purchase Act, 1893
45 6 Confederate Army Officer Pensions, 1895-1896
45 7 Judicial Appointments and Conduct, 1896
45 8 Repeal of Federal Election Law and other Senate Bills
45 9 Extradition Cases, 1885-1889
45 10 Judge Maynard Case, 1891-1895
45 11-13 Public Bond Sale Investigation, 1896
45 14 Monroe Doctrine and Foreign Policy, 1895-1896
45 15 Rivers and Harbor Act, 1897
    Correspondence, Alphabetical Files, 1920-1922
46 1 A-C
46 2 D-E
46 3 F
46 4 G
46 5-6 H
46 7 I-K
46 8 L
46 9 M
46 10 N-O
46 11 P-R
46 12 S
46 13 T-V
46 14 W-Z
    Correspondence, Name Files, 1919-1924
47 1 Alexander, D.S.
47 2-3 Osborn, William Church
47 4-6 Parker, Alton B.
47 7 Parker, George F.
47 8 Wiley, Louis
    Correspondence, Subject Files, 1919-1926
47 9 Genealogy of Hill Family
47 10 Hill Biography Subscriptions
47 11 Northern New York Bibliography, 1925-1926
47 12-13 Miscellaneous, 1926
    Research Notes for David Hill Biography
48 1 Personal Character
48 2-3 Political Career
48 4-5 Democratic Party Politics
48 6 Senatorial Career
48 7 Speeches
48 8 Newspaper Articles
48 9 Miscellaneous
    Notes on Hill’s Personal and Political Associates
49 1 Daniel Manning
49 2 J.P. Miller
49 3 Alton B. Parker
49 4 H.S. Pearse
49 5 Thomas C. Platt
49 6 Michael Rickard
49 7 Edward G. Riggs
49 8 Samuel J. Tilden
49 9 T.W. Williams
49 10-14 Alphabetical Files
    News Clippings
50 1 Obituaries of David B. Hill, 1910
50 2 Perspectives on Hill’s retirement from politics, 1905
50 3 Contemporary Biographies of David Hill, 1885-1889
50 4-13 Politics and Government, 1885-1906
50 14-15 Equitable Retainer Case
50 16 Miscellaneous
51 1-2 Grover Cleveland
51 3 Alton B. Parker
51 4 Wheeler H. Peckham
51 5 William C. Whitney
51 6 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination, 1892
51 7 Democratic Party Platform, 1892
51 8-10 Anti-Snappers Campaign, 1894
51 11 Presidential Campaign, 1896
51 12 Politics, 1920-1924
51 13 Obituaries, 1925-1927
51 14 Miscellaneous
    Notebooks, 1893-1901 (written in shorthand)
52 1 May 26, 1893-May 29, 1895
52 2 June 8, 1895-September 21, 1895
52 3 October 21, 1895-December 20, 1896
52 4 January 4, 1897-September 7, 1897
52 5 September 7, 1897-December 13, 1897
52 6 June 7, 1899-December 20, 1899
52 7 January 2, 1900-May 12, 1900
52 8 May 13, 1900-August 11, 1900
52 9 August 14, 1900-November 27, 1900
52 10 November 27, 1900-March 7, 1901
52 11 March 7, 1901-September2, 1901
    Notebooks, 1920-1921 (written in shorthand)
53 1-3 1920
53 4-11 1921
53 12-13 n.d.
    Assorted Papers
54 1 Transcripts of Hill Correspondence
54 2 Speeches and remarks (author unidentified)
54 3-6 Essays and manuscripts of Carl Loeffler
54 7-12 Speeches of Roswell P. Flower, 1892-1893
54 13 Speech of James Milburn to the Cleveland Democracy of Buffalo, N.Y., November 17, 1890
54 14 Roscoe Conkling Memorial, 1888
    Bound Volumes and Special Materials
    Letterpress Copybooks of David Hill (Personal)
55 1 August 22-October 30, 1888
55 2 October 30, 1888-November 13, 1889
55 3 November 13, 1889-February 2, 1891
56 4 February 2-December 27, 1891
56 5 January 2, 1907-September 23, 1910
    Legal Materials
57 1 Proceeding of the Grievance Committee of the New York State Bar Association, May 11, 1906
57 2 Burr’s Index of Legal Subjects, ca. 1900s
    Scrapbooks
58 1 Politics, 1884
58 2 Politics, 1885 (January-June)
58 3 Politics, 1885 (July-August)
59 4 Politics, 1886
59 5 Politics, 1887
59 6 Politics, 1887-1889
60 7 Flower-Fassett Gubernatorial Campaign, 1891
60 8 Freedom of Worship Legislation, 1885
61 9 Obituaries, 1900-1904
62 10-11 Speeches, letters, etc. of David B. Hill (compiled by William Gorham Rice)
    Photographs
63 1 Wolfert’s Roost, Residence of David B. Hill, Albany, N.Y.
  1. Exterior view of the house
  2. Bridge and pond
  3. General view of buildings and grounds
63 2 Wolfert’s Roost: view of windmill
63 3 Wolfert’s Roost: view of windmill and grounds
63 4 Wolfert’s Roost: pond scene
63 5 Wolfert’s Roost: interior scene
63 6 Hill family portrait (?)
63 7 David B. Hill seated on a porch
63 8 David B. Hill, Executive Chamber, Capitol Building, Albany, N.Y.
63 9
  1. David Hill in his law office
  2. “Veto”: Portrait of a cat
63 10 Pioneer Day, Oak Orchard, August 1902 (2 items)
63 11 David Hill, at unidentified location
  1. Individual portrait
  2. Group portrait
63 12 Albany County Bar Association Meeting (4 items)
63 13 Convention scene, Watertown, N.Y., September 1902
63 14 Convention scene (?)
63 15 Unidentified Dwelling House
  1. Exterior view
  2. Parlor (?)
63 16 Portrait of Samuel J. Tilden (2 items)
63 17 Portrait of S.N. Peck
63 18 Portrait of C.E. Duncan
63 19 Unidentified (2 items)
63 20 Group Portrait, Niagara Falls?
63 21 Cemetery scenes (4 items)
63 22 Guest house and cottages (location is not identified)
  1. Main house
  2. Main house
  3. Main house
  4. Casino
  5. Casino
  6. Garage
  7. Yellow Cottage
  8. Small Cottage
63 23 Executive Chamber, Capitol Building, Albany, N.Y.
63 24 Unidentified group portraits (2 items)
    Folio Albums
64 1 Responses to invitations of reception held by David B. Hill, 1883
64 2 Reception of Governor David B. Hill by the legislature of Georgia, October 17, 1889
65   Newspapers
  VAULT Grover Cleveland letters to David B. Hill, 1882-1895
66 1 A.L.S., Buffalo, N.Y., September 27, 1882. 1 p.
66 2 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Albany, N.Y., December 17, 1884. 4p.
66 3 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., May 20, 1886. 4p.
66 4 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., December 19, 1886. 4 p.
66 5 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., May 24, 1887. 4 p.
66 6 A.L.S., Oak View, Washington, D.C., July 4, 1887. 4 p.
66 7 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., June 8, 1888. 3 p.
66 8 A.L.S., New York, N.Y., June 19, 1889. 3 p.
66 9 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., December 24, 1894. 1 p.
66 10 A.L.S., Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., November 18, 1895. 5 p.
66 11 Telegram, June 30, 1887
66 12 Daniel Lament Correspondence, 1885-1895. 8 items

 

Last Updated: September 3, 2019