|Was||Politician Lawyer Judge|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||8 January 1791, Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, U.S.A.|
|Death||9 November 1865, Woodstock, Windsor County, Vermont, U.S.A. (aged 74 years)|
|Politics||Whig Party, Republican Party|
Jacob Collamer (January 8, 1791 – November 9, 1865) was an American politician from Vermont. He served in the United States House of Representatives, as Postmaster General in the cabinet of President Zachary Taylor, and as a United States Senator.
Jacob Collamer was born in Troy, New York on January 8, 1791, and his family moved to Burlington, Vermont in 1795. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Vermont, studied law in St. Albans, Vermont, was admitted to the bar in 1813, and served as an officer in a militia unit during the War of 1812.
In 1816 he moved to Royalton, Vermont, to open a law practice. He remained a resident of Royalton for twenty years, practicing law in partnership with Judge James Barrett. He also served in local offices, including Register of Probate, Windsor County State’s Attorney, and member of the Vermont House of Representatives. From 1833 to 1842 Collamer was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont. In 1836 he moved to Woodstock.
From 1839 to 1845 Collamer was a Trustee of the University of Vermont.
U.S. House of Representatives
Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1842 as a Whig, Collamer served three terms, 1843 to 1849. He opposed the extension of slavery, annexation of Texas, and Mexican-American War, supported high tariffs to favor American manufacturers, and received national recognition for his "Wools and Woolens" speech on tariffs.
During his House tenure Collamer was Chairman of the Committee on Manufactures (Twenty-eighth Congress) and the Committee on Public Lands (Thirtieth Congress).
Collamer served as Postmaster General under President Zachary Taylor; appointed at the start of Taylor's administration in 1849, he held office until resigning in July, 1850. Collamer resigned shortly after Taylor's death, enabling incoming President Millard Fillmore to name his own appointee. As Postmaster General, Collamer was criticized by Whig partisans, who advocated the spoils system, because he was reluctant to remove local Democratic postmasters en masse.
Upon returning to Vermont, Collamer was appointed a Judge of the state Circuit Court, where he served until 1854.
Collamer was a longtime Trustee of and Lecturer at the Vermont Medical College in Woodstock, and served as President of the Board of Trustees.
United States Senator
In 1855 Collamer was elected to the Senate as a conservative, anti-slavery Republican. In his first term Collamer was Chairman of the Committee on Engrossed Bills (Thirty-fourth Congress).
In 1856 Collamer received several votes for Vice President at the Republican National Convention.
He defended his positions vigorously, even when in the minority. When the Committee on Territories, chaired by Stephen A. Douglas, recommended passage of the Crittenden Amendment, which proposed resubmitting for popular vote the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution for Kansas. Collamer and James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin refused to vote in favor, instead crafting a persuasive minority report explaining their opposition.
Collamer also represented the minority view in June, 1860 when the committee chaired by James Murray Mason issued its report concerning John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Mason argued that Brown's raid was the work of an organized abolitionist movement which needed to be curtailed with federal authority. Collamer and Doolittle countered that Brown and his followers had been caught and punished, and that further government action was not necessary.
Collamer's years on the bench helped develop his reputation as the best lawyer in the Senate. His colleagues were known to pay close attention to his remarks on the Senate floor, even though he spoke infrequently and did not speak loudly enough to reach the entire chamber or the galleries. Charles Sumner referred to Collamer as the "Green-Mountain Socrates."
At the 1860 Republican National Convention Collamer received the favorite son votes of Vermont's delegates, and withdrew after the first ballot. Reelected to the Senate in 1861, he served until his death.
In 1861 Collamer authored the bill which invested the President with new war powers and gave Congressional approval to the war measures Abraham Lincoln had taken under his own authority at the start of his administration.
Collamer was the lead Senator of nine Republicans who visited Lincoln in 1862, determined to effect a change in the composition of his cabinet by persuading him to replace Secretary of State William Henry Seward. Having been encouraged to confront Lincoln by claims to Senators of cabinet disharmony from Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, the Senators changed their minds during the meeting after Chase was maneuvered by Lincoln into backtracking on his claims.
Again a member of the majority once Democrats left the Senate during the war, Collamer was Chairman of the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads (Thirty-seventh through Thirty-ninth Congresses) and the Committee on the Library (Thirty-eighth and Thirty-ninth Congresses).
After the war Collamer opposed the Reconstruction Plans of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and was an advocate of congressional control over the process of readmitting former Confederate states to the Union.
Death and burial
Collamer died at his home in Woodstock on November 9, 1865. He was buried in Woodstock's River Street Cemetery.
Awards and honors
Collamer received honorary LL.D. degrees from the University of Vermont in 1850 and Dartmouth College in 1855.
In 1881, the state of Vermont donated a marble statue of Collamer created by Preston Powers to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection. Each state is represented by two statues, and Vermont's are likenesses of Collamer and Ethan Allen.
Collamer's home at 40 Elm Street in Woodstock is part of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park's Civil War Home Front Walking Tour.