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Thomas Witherell Palmer Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Thomas Witherell Palmer passes away in 1913.

Thomas Witherell Palmer was an American politician.

Palmer was born on January 25th, 1830 in Detroit, Michigan. He attended local public schools before attending Thompson's Academy in Palmer (now St. Clair). He attended the University of Michigan for one year before traveling to Spain and then South America.

On Palmer's return to Detroit he entered the real estate business in 1853. In 1855 he entered the lumber and agricultural business with his future father-in-law, Charles Merrill. It was around this time he served as the first president of the Michigan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is now the Michigan Humane Society.

In 1873 Palmer served on the Board of Estimates for Detroit. In 1879 he was elected to the Michigan State Senate where he served one term. In 1882 he was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate where he again served one term. During his time in the United States Senate he became known as an advocate for Women's Suffrage, immigration restrictions and homesteaders rights. He's credited with coining the phrase Equal rights for all, special privileges to none. In 1885 he delivered a speech arguing for an amendment to the United States Constitution granting women's suffrage.

Eight days after leaving the United States Senate, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Palmer as Minister to Spain. He served in the position for a year before becoming the president of the National Commission of the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, also known as the Chicago World's Fair. After the Chicago World's Fair, Palmer retired to his farm near Detroit.

Palmer was very generous to his hometown of Detroit. He and his wife gave many notable gifts to the city including 140 acres of land which became Palmer Park and the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Campus Maritus Park. He was also the president and founder of the Detroit Museum of Art, which is now known as the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Palmer passed away on June 1st, 1913.

Palmer was a member of Fidelity Lodge No. 32 in Hillsdale, Michigan. He later transferred to Maxson Lodge No. 26.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.