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Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich passes away in 1915.

Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich was an American politician.

Aldrich was born on November 6th, 1841 in Foster, Rhode Island. He attended public schools in East Killingly, Connecticut and the East Greenwich Academy, a boarding school in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Aldrich's first job was a clerk for the largest wholesale grocer in Rhode Island at the time. He worked his way up through the ranks in the store to become a partner.

When the American Civil War began, Aldrich enlisted in the Army. He served in the 10th Rhode Island Infantry. Aldrich's unit served for three months at Fort DeRussy protecting Washington D.C. After the three month tour, Aldrich left the service and returned to Rhode Island.

In 1869, Aldrich served on the Providence City Council. He served on the Council for 5 years, two of those years he was the President of the Council. He also served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1875 and 1876. He was Speaker of the House in 1876.

In 1878, Aldrich won election to the United States House of Reprentatives. He served one term from 1879 to 1881. In 1881, he was elected by the Rhode Island Legislature to serve in the United States Senate. He became the longest serving Senator from Rhode Island with 30 years in the Senate. Overall he is the second longest serving Senator from Rhode Island.

In the 1890's Aldrich became one of the "Big Four" Republicans in the Senate. Aldrich, along with the other three, controlled most of the major decisions in the Senate. While in the Senate Aldrich served on a variety of committees. He also opposed the United States entering the Spanish-American War.

Probably the most significant item atributed to Aldrich came after the Panic of 1907. During the Panic, which lasted three weeks, the New York Stock Exchange lost 50% of it's value from the peak of the previous year. After the Panic, Aldrich led a group of experts who went to Europe to study the banking systems there. Aldrich was convinced European nations had superior banking systems. In 1908 the Aldrich-Vreeland Act was passed which established the National Monetary Commission, which Aldrich chaired. The Aldrich-Vreeland Act and the European fact finding mission led to the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1914, three years after Aldrich left the Senate.

Aldrich passed away on April 16th, 1915.

Aldrich was a member of What Cheer Lodge No. 21 in Providence. He also served as Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.