Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DICKINSON, Daniel Stevens, statesman, born in Goshen, Connecticut, 11 September 1S00; died in New York City, 12 April 1866. In early life his father took him to Guilford, Chenango County, New York, where he obtained a public school education. In addition to this, with but slight assistance, he acquired the Latin language arid made himself acquainted with the higher mathematics and other sciences while apprenticed to a clothier. When he became his own master he occupied himself for a time in teaching and surveying, then studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1828, beginning practice in Guilford. In 1831 he removed to Binghamton, which thenceforth became his home. In 1836 he was chosen state senator, and his great ability as a debater soon made him the leader' of his party. Among the questions that came up for discussion were several measures, such as the small bill law and the general banking law that arose out of the recent overthrow of the U. S. bank, the construction of the Erie railway, and the enlargement of the Erie canal. His strongest oratorical effort at this time was his speech in opposition to the repeal of the usury laws, 10 February 1837. In 1840 the democrats nominated him for the office of lieutenant governor, and, although defeated that year, he was elected in 1842. He thus became ex-offcio president of the senate, of the court of errors, and of the canal board. At the expiration of his term of office in 1844, Governor Bouck appointed him to fill a vacancy in the U. S. Senate, and " on the meeting of the legislature the appointment was ratified an he was elected for a full term. Mr. Dickinson held for several years the chairmanship of the senate committee on finance. In discussing the exciting issues of the day he took strong conservative ground, and from that standpoint spoke frequently on the annexation of Texas. the joint occupation of Oregon, the Mexican war, the Wihnot proviso, and the compromise measures of 1850.
In December 1847, he introduced two resolutions regarding the government of the territories, which virtually embed led the doctrine afterward known as "popular sovereignty." (See BUTTS, ISAAC.) Among the measures that have since been adopted, Mr. Dickinson earnestly advocated the free passage of weekly newspapers through the mails in the County where published. His conservative course in the senate not only secured him the vote of Virginia for the presidential nomination in the Democratic convention of 1852, but a strongly commendatory letter from Daniel Webster, 27 September 1850, in which the writer asserted that Mr. Dickinson's "noble, able, manly, and patriotic conduct in support of the great measures " of that session had "entirely won his heart " and received his "highest regard." In 1852 President Pierce nominated Mr. Dickinson for collector of the port of New York, and the nomination was confirmed by the senate' but the office was declined. At the beginning of the civil war in 1861, 5cir. Dickinson threw all his influence on the side of the government regardless of party considerations, and for the first three years devoted himself to addressing public assemblages in New York, Pennsylvania, and the New England states. In 1861 he was nominated for attorney general of his state, and was elected by 100,000 majority, He was nominated by President Lincoln to settle the northwestern boundary question, but declined, as he also did a nomination by Governor Fenton to fill a vacancy in the court of appeals of the state of New York. He subsequently accepted the office of district attorney for the southern district of New York. and performed its duties almost till the day of his death. In the Republican national convention of 1864, when President Lincoln was re-nominated, Mr. Dickinson received 150 votes for the vice presidential nomination. As a debater he was clear, profound, and logical, and not infrequently overwhelmed his opponents with scathing satire. His speeches were ornamented with classical allusions and delivered without apparent effort. Among his happiest efforts are said to have been his speech in the National democratic convention at Baltimore in 1852, in which, having received the vote of Virginia, he declined in favor of General Cass, and his eulogy of General Jackson in 1845. Mr. Dickinson's brother has published his " Life and Works" (2 vols., New York, 1867).
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