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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Henry Lillie Pierce

PIERCE, Henry Lillie, member of congress, born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, 23 August, 1825. He received a good education, engaged in manufacturing, and as early as 1848 took an active part in organizing the " Free-soil" party in Massachusetts. He was a member of the Massachusetts legislature in 1860-'6, and in 1860 was instrumental in getting a bill passed by both branches of the legislature removing the statutory prohibition upon the formation of militia companies composed of colored men. He was elected to congress as a Republican to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Whiting, was re-elected for the next congressional term, and served from 1 December, 1873, till 3 March, 1877, when he declined a renomination In the presidential election of 1884 he was prominent in organizing an independent movement in support of Cleveland, and has since taken a leading part in the effort to revise the tariff legislation and reduce the taxes on imports. He was mayor of Boston in 1873, and again in 1878.--His brother, Edward Lillie, author, born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, 29 March, 1829, was graduated at Brown in 1850, and at Harvard law-school in 1852, receiving the degree of LL.D. from Brown in 1882. After leaving the law-school, Mr. Pierce was for some time in the office of Salmon P. Chase at Cincinnati. He afterward practised law in his native state, and was a delegate to the National Republican convention in 1860. At the beginning of the civil war he enlisted as a private in the 3d Massachusetts regiment, and served till July, 1861, when he was detailed to collect the negroes at Hampton and set them to work on the intrenchments of that town. This was the beginning of the employment of negroes on United States military works. In December, 1861, the secretary of the treasury despatched Mr. Pierce to Port Royal to examine into the condition of the negroes on the sea islands. In February, 1862, he returned to Washington and reported to the government, and in March was given charge of the freedmen and plantations on those islands. He took with him nearly sixty teachers and superintendents, established schools, and suggested the formation of freedmen's aid societies, by means of which great good was accomplished. In June, 1862, Mr. Pierce made his second report to the government setting forth what he had done. These reports were afterward reprinted in the "Rebellion Record," and were favorably reviewed both in Europe and the United States. The care of the negroes on the islands having been transferred to the war department, he was asked to continue in charge under its authority, but declined. He was offered the military governorship of South Carolina, but was not confirmed. He was collector of internal revenue for the 3d Massachusetts district from October, 1863, till May, 1866, district attorney in 1866-'9, secretary of the board of state charities in 1869-'74, and a member of the legislature in 1875-'6. He was a member of the Republican national conventions of 1876 and 1884, and in December, 1878, was appointed by President Hayes assistant treasurer of the United States, but declined. In 1883 he gave to the white and colored people of St. Helena island, the scene of his former labors, a library of 800 volumes. He also originated the public library of Milton, Massachusetts, where he has resided, and has been a trustee since its organization. He has been a lecturer at the Boston law-school since its foundation. Mr. Pierce has visited Europe several times. His second visit was for the inspection of European prisons, reformatories and asylums, and the result is given in his report for 1873 as secretary of the board of state charities. He has been a frequent contributor to newspapers and periodicals, and has published numerous articles and addresses, and "American Railroad Law" (New York, 1857); "Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner" (2 vols., Boston, 1877, unfinished), and "The Law of Railroads" (Boston, 1881). He also edited "Waiter's American Law" (1860), and compiled "Index of the Special Railroad Laws of Massachusetts" (1874).

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