Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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ORTON, William, Federal official, born in Cuba, Alleghany County, New York, 14 June, 1826 ; died in New York city, 22 April, 1878. He was graduated at the State normal school, Albany, New York, and became a teacher. In 1850 he entered the book-store of George Derby and Co., at Geneva, New York, and soon afterward he became a partner. After the death of George, James C. Derby entered the firm, and the business was subsequently removed to New York city, where, in 1857, the firm became insolvent. Orion was then employed in the publishinghouse of J. G. Gregory and Co. About this time he began to take an active interest in polities as a Republican, and in 186.2 he was appointed collector of internal revenue for the 6th district of New York. In 1865 he was promoted to be commissioner of internal revenue. He had discharged his duties only for a few months when he resigned to accept the presidency of the United States telegraph company, which corporation was in the following April consolidated with its rival, the Western Union telegraph company, Mr. Orton being made vice-president of the new organization. He became president in 1867, and retained that office until his death. In the latter year he established the "Journal of Telegraphy." Mr. Orton was a man of great executive ability.
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