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Jacob Collamer Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Jacob Collamer passes away in 1865.

Jacob Collamer was an American politician.

Collamer was born on January 8th, 1791 in Troy, New York. When he was four years old, his family moved to Burlington, Vermont. He attended and graduated from the University of Vermont. He received a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in 1810. He went on to read law in St. Albans Vermont and then in Randolph, Vermont. He was admitted to the bar in 1813.

During the War of 1812, Collamer served in the militia. He was a lieutenant serving on the border between Vermont and Canada in an artillery unit. Later in the war he served as aide-De-camp to Brigadier General John French.

After the war, Collamer returned to his legal practice. In 1816 he moved to Royalton, Vermont where he practiced law and held various local and state political offices. This included being elected to the Vermont State House of Representatives. From 1833 to 1842 he served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont. Overlapping with this time he served as a trustee of the University of Vermont from 1839 to 1845.

In 1842, Collamer was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Whig. He served three terms from 1843 to 1849. In the House he opposed the extension of slavery, the annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American war. He supported high tariffs to help American manufacturers. On that subject he gave a speech in Congress called the "Wools and Woolens" speech which gained him National attention.

In 1949, President Zachary Taylor appointed Collamer as the Postmaster General. He was criticized by other Whigs for not adhering to the spoils system. The system in politics where you appoint supporters of your party and their family members into government positions. Collamer refused to remove all Democratic Postmasters when he took office and replace them with Whig loyalists. Collamer resigned in 1850 to allow President Millard Fillmore to appoint his own Postmaster after Taylor passed away in office.

Collamer returned to Vermont in 1850 and was appointed a judge on the state Circuit Court. He served on the court until 1854.

Collamer was elected in 1855 to the United States Senate as a conservative anti-slavery Republican. The following year he was nominated at the Republican National Convention for Vice President, receiving several votes. In the Senate he vigorously defended his position when he was in the minority. This included the debate of the Crittenden Amendment, which would have put slavery in Kansas up for a popular vote and report on John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. In the John Brown report, Collamer stated that Brown and his followers had been caught and punished and there was no for the Federal Government to be involved. The chairman of the committee gave the report that the raid was the work of an organized abolitionist movement, which needed to be curtailed with federal authority.

Collamer did not speak often in front of Congress, in fact when he did speak his voice often did not carry through the Senate Chambers, when he did speak his fellow Senators paid close attention to his works. Charles Sumner, the Senator from Massachusetts, referred to Collamer as the "Green-Mountain Socrates."

Collamer was reelected in 1861. After the start of the American Civil War, Collamer was the leader of nine United States Senators who visited President Lincoln in 1862. Rumors were swirling that there was strife in the President's Cabinet. This came largely from Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. The Senators went to the White House to encourage the President to replace his Secretary of State. Collamer and the other Senators backed off this when the Secretary of the Treasury retracted his claims of disharmony in the Cabinet.

After the war, Collamer opposed Reconstruction plans and was an advocate of Congressional control of the process to readmit Confederate states.

Collamer passed away in office on November 9th, 1865.

Collamer was a member of Rising Star Lodge No. 7 in South Royalton, Vermont.

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