Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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EDMUNDS, George Franklin, statesman, born in Richmond, Vermont, 1 February 1828. He was educated at the common schools and by a private tutor; studied law at an early age, and began practice in 1849, removing in 1851 to Burlington, Vermont. He was a representative in the Vermont legislature in 1854'9, serving as speaker for three years, and in 1861'2 was a member of the state senate, and its president pro tempore. At the beginning of the civil war he was a member of the State convention that formed a coalition between the Republicans and war Democrats, and drew up the resolutions adopted there. He was appointed to the U. S. Senate in March 1866, by the governor of Vermont, to fill the vacancy made by the death of Solomon Foot, and was then elected by the legislature to fill the unexpired term, and three times reelected.
Mr. Edmunds was active in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson; sided with President Grant against Charles Sumner, and acted an influential part in the passage of the reconstruction measures, adopting a conservative course. In 1876'7 he was one of the members of the electoral commission, having been previously chairman of the committee which, in concert with a similar committee of the House of Representatives, prepared the bill creating that commission. The passage of the Pacific railroad funding act was also largely due to his influence and exertions. At the National Republican conventions, held in Chicago ill 1880 and 1884, Mr. Edmunds received thirty-four and ninety-three votes respectively for the presidential nomination, each on the first ballot. He was elected president pro tempore of the senate after Mr. Arthur became president of the United States.
In the senate he has served on the committees on commerce, public lands, appropriations, pensions, retrenchment, private land claims, the library, and the judiciary, and has served as chairman of the last-named committee for several successive congresses. As a legislator, Senator Edmunds is noted for his legal acumen, his readiness in repartee, and his love of strictly parliamentary procedure. He has been a fearless foe of political jobs and legislative intrigues. He was the author of the act of 22 March 1882, for the suppression of polygamy in Utah and the disfranchisement of those who practice it. This is known as the "Edrounds act," and was upheld by the Supreme Court in decisions that were rendered on 22 March 1884, in a series of five cases. He was also the chief author of the similar act passed in 1887; and of the act of 1886 prescribing the manner in which electoral votes for president shall be counted. In 1886 he was the leader in the senate in the attempt to compel President Cleveland to furnish that body with all documents necessary to show, cause for recent removals from office.
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