Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CHANDLER, Zachariah, senator, born in Bedford, New Hampshire, 10 December, 1813; died in Chicago, Illinois, 1 November, 1879. After receiving a common-school education he taught for one winter, at the same time managing his father's farm. He was noted when a youth for physical strength and endurance. It is said that, being offered by his father the choice between a collegiate education and the sum of $1,000, he chose the latter. He removed to Detroit in 1833 and engaged in the dry-goods' business, in which he was energetic and successful. He soon became a prominent Whig, and was active in support of the so-called "underground railroad," of which Detroit was an important terminus. His public life began in 1851 by his election as mayor of Detroit. In 1852 he was nominated for governor by the Whigs, and, although his success was hopeless, the large vote he received brought him into public notice. He was active in the organization of the Republican Party in 1854, and in January, 1857, was elected to the United States senate to succeed General Lewis Cass. He made his first important speech on 12 March, 1858, opposing the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitution, and continued to take active part in the debates on that and allied questions. In 1858, when Senator Green, of Missouri, had threatened Simon Cameron with an assault for words spoken in debate, Mr. Chandler, with Mr. Cameron and Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio, drew up a written agreement, the contents of which were not to be made public till the death of all the signers, but which was believed to be a pledge to resent an attack made on any one of the three. On 11 February, 1861, he wrote the famous so-called " blood letter" to Governor Blair, of Michigan. It received its name from the sentence, " Without a little blood-letting this Union will not, in my estimation, be worth a rush." This letter was widely quoted through the country, and was acknowledged and defended by Mr. Chandler on the floor of the senate. Mr. Chandler was a firm friend of President Lincoln, though he was more radical than the latter in his ideas, and often differed with the president as to matters of policy. When the first call for troops was made, he assisted by giving money and by personal exertion. He regretted that 500,000 men had not been called for instead of 75,000, and said that the short-term enlistment was a mistake. At the beginning of the extra session of congress in July, 1861, he introduced a sweeping confiscation-bill, thinking that stern measures would deter wavering persons from taking up arms against the government ; but it was not passed in its original form, though congress ultimately adopted his views. On 16 July, 1862, Mr. Chandler vehemently assailed General McClellan in the senate, although he was warned that such a course might be politically fatal. He was, however, returned to the senate in 1863, and in 1864 actively aided in the re-election of President Lincoln. He was again elected to the senate in 1869. During all of his terms he was chairman of the committee on commerce and a member of other important committees, including that on the conduct of the war. In October, 1874, President Grant tendered him the post of secretary of the interior, to fill the place made vacant by the resignation of Columbus Delano, and he held this office until President Grant's retirement, doing much to reform abuses in the department. He was chairman of the Republican national committee in 1876, and took an active part in the presidential campaign of that year. He was again elected to the senate in February, 1879, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Isaac P. Christiancy, who had succeeded him four years before. On 2 March, 1879, he made a speech in the senate denouncing Jefferson Davis, which brought him into public notice again, and he was regarded in his own state as a possible presidential candidate. He went to Chicago on 31 October, 1879, to deliver a political speech, and was found dead in his room on the following morning. During the greater portion of his life Mr. Chandler was engaged in large business enterprises, from which he realized a handsome fortune. He was a man of commanding appearance, and possessed an excellent practical judgment, great energy, and indomitable perseverance.
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