Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men in Chicago, Photographically Illustrated by John Carbutt, 1868, Pages 47-58
The subject of this sketch was born in New York City in 1817. He was the son of respectable Irish parents, who had been compelled to emigrate in 1815, in consequence of troubles in which his father had become involved with the English Government. Though never put on trial, he was suspected of treasonable designs, and in case of an outbreak would have been made the victim of immediate prosecution, so that prudence dictated emigration as the only safety from prospective difficulty. Compelled to abandon his property, he arrived in New York destitute. He immediately sought and obtained employment as porter in a whole- sale house, at which he labored to support his children until his death in 1829.
Thomas was the oldest of seven children. He was sent to a Catholic school attached to St. Peter’s Church, on Barclay Street, New York, where he continued until the death of his father. The following year, his mother died, and he was left an orphan without any means for his support.
In 1830, he was articled as an apprentice to a manufacturer of fancy goods, traveling cases and pocket-books. He remained for a period of four or five years, during which his love of literary pursuits, which had always been a passion, led him to join a club known as ” The Literary Association,” of which the late Judge Manierre was a prominent member. Among others who were members of this club, and afterwards distinguished themselves, were Hon. Charles P. Daly, now Chief Justice of the Common Pleas of New York City, Hon. Wm. B. Maclay, Hon. Horace Greeley, and Hon. Elijah Ward. In this club Mr. Hoyne laid the foundation of his present eminence as an attorney, and of that friendship with Judge Manierre which lasted unbroken until the death of the latter, in 1863. Mr. Hoyne not alone attended the meetings of the club but also two night schools, at one of which he studied Latin and Greek, and at the other English Grammar and Elocution. He was a diligent reader and a close student, and consequently he made rapid progress in his studies, although he could snatch but a small fraction of his time to devote to study.
In 1835, Mr. Hoyne’s apprenticeship expired, and he immediately obtained a situation in a law office, but his means were limited and he was compelled to look again for active business. He obtained a situation in a wholesale grocery house at $400 i>er year, which gave him the oppor- tunity of continuing his studies in the night schools. He was also about this time fortunate in making the acipiaintance of, and being received as a boarder with the family of Rev. Archibald Maclay, D. D., the leading divine of the Baptist denomination in America for over fifty years. He was at once surrounded by an intellectual atmosphere congenial to his tastes, and he made rapid progress in his education. In 1836, he entered the office of Hon. John Brinkerhoff, an old resident lawyer of New York, as a law student, and by various little business schemes continued to add to the small fund which he was laying aside as the foundation of his education.
In the fall of 1835, Judge Manierre moved to Chicago. An active correspondence was kept up, and the glowing letters of young Manierre soon induced Mr. Hoyne to emigrate westward. In August, 1837, after effecting a small loan among his literary friends, he started for Chicago, journeying ten days by canal to Buffalo, by steamer from Buffalo to Detroit, and by schooner from Detroit to Chicago. The whole journey occupied four weeks, a period of time now more than enough to make the voyage to Europe and back.
Arrived at Chicago, Mr. Hoyne found his friend Manierre at the Circuit Clerk’s office, acting as Clerk of the Circuit Court, Deputy for the late Col. R. D. Hamilton. The Clerk’s office was then located in the only public building in the city, except the old wooden jail standing near it. It was a one-story brick structure standing on the corner of the present Court House Square, fronting east on Clark Street, with the north side running along Randolph. Mr. Hoyne entered this building on the 11th day of September, 1837, where he at once found employment as an assistant at a salary of ten dollars per week.
Rare opportunities were afforded him for becoming familiar with the course of practice under the laws of Illinois. He diligently continued his reading and study of law authors, while ho necessarily observed all the practiced forms of pleading. His methods of study were so well systematized that he kept a common-place book, in which he noted all decisions made affecting the construction of particular statutes, as well as any modifications in practice of old common law rules, as applied to the new conditions of modern civilization.
In the second volume of Scammon’s Reports, p. 199, will be found an affidavit made by Mr. Hoyne on a mandamus case against the late Judge Pearson on the Supreme Court of Illinois, which presents one of the court scenes of those days between the late Justice Butterfield and the Judge, during which Mr. Hoyne acted as the Clerk in entering a fine of twenty dollars against Butterfield for contempt of court. During the next two years he joined a literary club, organized by Judge Manierre, and comprising among its members such names as Stephen F. Gale, Esq., Hon. N. B. Judd, Henry L. Rucker, Esq., the late Dr. Kennicott, and others. He also renewed his study of Latin with a Prof. Kendall, then residing in Chicago, and with Geo. C. Collins, Esq., connected with the public schools. He also commenced the study of French with M. de St. Palais, the priest of St. Mary’s, then the only Roman Catholic Church in Chicago.
In the autumn of 1838, Mr. Hoyne, being found qualified, took charge of a public school in the West Division, which, however, he resigned after teaching four months, finding that it engrossed too much of his time.
Among the leaders of the Chicago bar at this time were the Hons. J. Y. Scammon, Justin Butterfield, James H. Collins, B. S. Morris, the late Judge Spring, I. N. Arnold and Grant Goodrich. Mr. Hoyne entered J. Y. Scammon’s office as a student, and completed his studies in the year 1839, just before his admission to practice, which took place during the same year. Although Mr. Hoyne and Mr. Scammon have scarcely ever agreed from that day to this on great public questions, with the exception of the vigorous prosecution of the late civil war, he has never failed to express his sincere obligations to Mr. Scammon for his counsel and instructions, and never for a moment have their personal relations been disturbed.
In 1840, the Democratic party, to which Mr. Hoyne had attached himself, carried the municipal election by choosing Alexander Lloyd Mayor, and a majority of the Aldermen. Immediately after their installation, Mr. Hoyne was elected City Clerk, being the third Clerk appointed since the organization of the municipal government. The salary of the office was then $250 per annum, with some trifling fees for licenses, but the work was very light—occupying only three or four hours in a week—all the records of the city, including proceedings of the Board of Aldermen and tax rolls, with the public documents, being contained in a small office desk. It is a fact, perhaps, worthy of remembrance in a city which now collects a general revenue tax of nearly two million dollars annually, that the whole amount of the tax list of Chicago in 1840 was only about seven thousand dollars.
During this year an incident took place in the city which is worthy of note in the history of the State. It is generally known that the settlement of Illinois commenced in the southern part of the State, and that in 1838, when Judge Douglas made his first canvass for Congress, Chicago was in the Springfield district. The population was mostly composed of settlers from the Southern States, The Governor and public men paid little attention to the New England custom of Thanksgiving, but the people of Chicago, having come from the East, as the usual season approached began to think of Thanksgiving dinner, and as Gov. Carlin had made no appointment, they determined to make a thanksgiving for the State. Accordingly, at a meeting held November 18, 1840, Alderman Julius Wadsworth offered an appropriate resolution to that effect, and the first thanksgiving proclamation ever issued in the State was drawn up by Mr. Hoyne and issued at Chicago, appointing December 3, 1840, as a day of public thanksgiving.
During the year 1841, while Congress was in session, an effort was made by the people and corporate authorities of the city to induce Con- gress to make more liberal appropriations for the improvement of the Chicago harbor. Mr. Hoyne was requested to collect the facts and draw up a memorial,—a work which he did faithfully, and with an elaborate yet concise statement of facts.
It was while Mr. Hoyne was acting as City Clerk, on September 17, 1840, that he married the daughter of Dr. John T. Temple, one of the first settlers of Chicago. Arriving here in 1833, he established, by authority of the celebrated Amos Kendall, the first line of coaches which carried the mail from Chicago to the Illinois River. At this time, the wife of Mr. Hoyne was but eight years of age. She is now the mother of seven children; the oldest, a boy, is engaged in the practice of medicine, the second is a law partner in the law firm of his lather, and a third is engaged as a clerk in a wholesale grocery house.
In the autumn of 1842, Mr. Hoyne removed to Galena, where he resided two years. At the expiration of that time, he returned to Chicago. While in Galena, one of the public questions agitated among the people of Illinois and Wisconsin was the claim which the latter laid to all the territory north of a line drawn east and west through the southern bend of Lake Michigan, which would include about twelve thousand square miles of territory, now lying within the borders of Illinois. Upon this question, Mr. Hoyne published a series of articles, over the signature of “Ulpian,” in the Galena Sentinel, bearing the title of “Disputed Territory.” They attracted much attention at the time.
Mr. Hoyne returned to the practice of the law in Chicago, in Decem- ber, 1844. In August, 1847, he was elected to the office of Probate Justice of the Peace, under the old Constitution, the office now known as CountyJudge.
This office he held until the new Constitution went into effect and suspended the court, in the autumn of 1848. His practice increasing, he now began that active career of professional life in which he has since become eminent. In the year 1847, after he had been elected Probate Justice, he formed a law partnership with Hon. Mark Skinner, with whom he continued until the election of Mr. Skinner as a Judge of the Common Pleas Court, in 1851. He also became known in matters of general public interest. Being a strong adherent of the Democratic party, he began to take a leading part in its organization and movements. In 1847, during the Mexican war, at a public meeting held in the Court House Square, he reported resolutions calling for a vigoroas prosecution of the war. In 1848, after the passage in Congress of the famous Wilmot Proviso, a large meeting of the Democracy was called at Chicago for the purpose of indorsing the war. Mr. Hoyne, after this meeting, may be said to have really opened a regular political campaign in the State for the advocacy of Free Soil principles.
On the 4th of April following, another immense Democratic meeting was held in favor of the Wilmot Proviso, over which Hon. James II. Woodworth, the Mayor, presided. A committee was appointed at this meeting to issue an address to the Democracy of the State, the members of which were Thomas Hoyne, chairman, Dr. Daniel Brainard, Isaac N. Arnold, Mark Skinner, George Manierre, E. S. Kimberley, and Asa F. Bradley. The address was prepared and written by Mr. Hoyne, and circulated throughout the State. It deprecated meddling with slavery where it existed, but was unalterably opposed to its further extension. It set forth that the Democracy of Cook County did not make war upon the South, or her institutions; tliat they did not intend to abolish slavery where it existed, but did intend to prevent the abolition of freedom in territory then free. This was the key note of the document, and it was sounded in no uncertain manner. It was a bold, manly, vigorous protest against the further extension of slavery, and is especially worthy of note as the first regular manifesto ever issued in the Free Soil campaign of 1848, in which Mr. Hoyne acted. Being called as a Democratic meeting, it was designed by Mr. Hoyne to affect the opinion of the Democratic masses of the State; and the address itself was intended to influence the creed which was to go into the platforms of the conventions aud elections of that year. That it had the effect designed, w^as afterwards proven by the movements of the people, which soon followed.
In the Democratic Congressional Convention of the Chicago District, which Mr. Wentworth represented, held at Ottawa, to which Cook county sent Mr. Hoyne at the head of fourteen delegates, the struggle arose upon the Wilmot Proviso and the address. Mr. Wentworth was nominated by a clear majority, but the Committee on Resolutions could not unite upon a report, and the session of the Convention was prolonged until after midnight, when Mr. Hoyne, finding that no agreement could be reached upon his Free Soil platform, proposed that the committee should report “that it was deemed inexpedient for the Convention to adopt a declaration of principles.” This they did, and it was carried, but only after a most violent debate and bitter opposition of the anti-Wentworth wing of the Convention.
That year, the Baltimore Democratic Convention nominated Hon. Lewis Cass for the Presidency, to the great disgust of the Free Soil wing of the Democratic party. On the 4th of July, a large mass meeting of Democrats was held at the Court House in Chicago, at which Mr. Hoyne made a powerful speech, vigorously opposing the nomination. Before this, however, the numerous friends of Free Soil in New York, at the Utica Convention, had named Martin Van Buren for the Presidency, and while they were in session a telegram was sent to them, signed by James H. Woodworth, Mayor, I. N. Arnold, and Thomas Hoyne, fully endorsing the candidate, and suggesting a National Mass Convention. In accordance with this suggestion, such a Convention was called to meet at Buffalo on the 22d of August. This Convention nominated Martin Van Buren for the Presidency, and Hon. Charles Francis Adams for the Vice- Presidency. These nominations were ratified at a mass meeting in Chicago, August28, in which Mr.Hoyne took an active part. The next Convention of the Free Soil Democracy was held at Ottawa, September 30, at which an electoral ticket was put in nomination, as follows: CookCounty, Wm. B. Ogden, Thomas Hoyne; Kane, Levi F. Torrey; Madison, John W. Buffum; Fulton, Henry B. Evans; Sangamon, Lewis J. Kealing; La Salle, A. Hoes; Knox, Jonathan Blanchard; Peoria, George B. Arnold. Mr. Hoyne made a very thorough canvass through the northern part of Illinois, and addressed several large meetings. The election resulted in the success of the Whig candidate and the defeat of Mr. Cass. The cause for which Mr. Hoyne had contended met with signal success in Chicago, Van Buren receiving 260 votes over Taylor, and 527 over Cass, on a total vote of 3,840.
The last time in the progress of this movement, to which so large a portion of the Democratic party had committed itself, when Mr. Hoyne appears acting in apparent opposition, was at a public meeting held in the South IMarket Hall, in February, 1850, to protest against the new attempt making in Congress to secure, by compromise, some of the new territory acquired from Mexico for the exclusive settlement of tlie slaveholders. Of this meeting the Chicago Tribune said:
- The meeting last night was a great success. Tariffs, said Mr. Hoyne, can be made and unmade. Banks can be chartered and their charters repealed; but the extension of slavery, once granted, takes forever from the people of the States the constitutional power of revoking it. By all that we; hold sacred! By the very genius of Republican liberty! By the humanitary tendencies of the nineteenth century! By our love of the glory of our model Republic, we must not let the present crisis pass without consecrating forever to freedom the territory over which the Government has so recently extended its laws and institutions. America must not appear worse than Mexico in keeping for freedom the soil and territory she obtained free.
The compromise measures of 1850 were afterwards passed, and Mr. Hoyne, in common with thousands of other Free Soil Democrats, accepted them; but he did not relinquish his peculiar political tenets as to the extension of slavery in the Territories. On the contrary, in the autumn of 1850, when a successor came to be nominated as a Congressman to succeed Mr. Wentworth, Dr. R. S. Molony was selected in the Joliet Convention, entirely through Mr. Hoyne’s efforts.
But Mr. Hoyne did not continue his attention altogether to political matters. In 1850, at the annual election of officers, he was chosen President of the Young Men’s Association. He was the only President of that institution who was elected for a second term. Under his administration, the organization received an impulse which carried it far towards its present prominent jiosition. Among the series of lectui-es delivered before the Association was one by Mr. Hoyne, on the subject of “Trial by Jury.” In 1849, at the Festival of St. Patrick, he delivered a speech in response to the toast “The State of Illinois.” On December 5, 1849, he organized a meeting for the relief of German refugees, and December 8, 1851, he delivered the welcoming speech at the reception of Dr. Kenkel, the compatriot of Kossuth.
The election of Pierce, as President, reunited the Democracy, and, through the influence of Mr. Wentworth, Mr. Hoyne received the appointment of United States District Attorney for the District of Illinois, which then embraced the whole State. This appointment made Mr. Hoyne the target for the most bitter and ferocious personal hostility.
With this appointment, Mr. Hoyne’s business rapidly increased, and his reputation spread with equal pace. The State was then included in one judicial district, and the court sat at Springfield. Here he was brought into contact with the best legal talent of Illinois, and in his first cause—the prosecution of a mail robber—the late President Lincoln conducted the defense. Mr. Hoyne gained the cause and fixed his reputation at the Springfield bar. During his administration, both as United States Attorney, and later as United States Marshal, not a single prosecution or an arrest under the fugitive slave law occurred.
In 1854, Mr. Douglas introduced the Kansas and Nebraska bills, which kindled anew the fires of anti-slavery agitation, and, in Chicago, led to bitter partisan feelings, which manifested themselves in the shape of a mob at the famous North Market Hall meeting, upon the occasion of a speech by Mr. Douglas opposing himself to the almost universally popular sentiment, and, acting from his convictions of right, Mr. Hoyne sided with Mr. Douglas, and in the fall of that year accompanied him through the State, speaking in defense of his policy. In the Presidential canvass of 1856, Mr. Douglas again canvassed Illinois, and Mr. Hoyne, by order of the State Democratic Central Committee, canvassed the northern portion of the State. Mr.Buchanan was elected, and in the following March, Mr. Hoyne, feeling that unless he entered upon a personal straggle for his office some rival candidate would succeed, withdrew his claim to re-appointment. In 1858, Mr. Buchanan recommended the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. Mr. Douglas opposed the President. Mr. Hoyne, finding that no reconciliation was possible, took the side of the President, and in Mr. Douglas’ canvass for re-election he joined the ranks of the minority. The contest was very bitter, and, among others, Mr. Hoyne came in for his share of abuse. Ingratitude was charged against him for deserting Mr. Douglas, as it was supposed he owed his office to the latter, when in fact he was exclusively indebted to Mr. Wentworth for his attorneyship.
In 1859, the United States Marshal, Charles A. Pine, appointed by Mr. Buchanan for the Northern District of Illinois, became a defaulter. After Judge Breese’s declination of the appointment, it was tendered to Mr. Hoyne, who was one of the sureties on Mr. Pine’s bond. His co-sureties insisted upon his acceptance for their own protection, and Judge Drummond requested it, owing to the then confused condition of the Marshal’s office. He finally accepted, and in April, 1859, entered upon the duties. In 1860, he superintended the United States Census for the Northern District, and was complimented by Hon. J. P. Kennedy, the National Superintendent of the Census Bureau, who reported to the Secretary of the Interior that the Northern District of Illinois was the only one in which the returns were so complete that it Avas unnecessary to send them back for correction.
This was the last political office held by Mr. Hoyne, but his labors in the public behalf do not end here. In 1856, the Baptist denomination accepted Mr. Douglas’ munificent offer of ten acres at Cottage Grove to be devoted to University purposes. Dr. Burroughs, in behalf of the denomination, entered upon what seemed to be a herculean task. According to the contract, a University must be built in a specified time, to cost not less than $100,000. Subscriptions were very generous. A Board of Trustees was organized, and Judge Douglas was elected first President. On the 4th of July, 1857, the corner-stone was laid, at which time Mr. Hoyne was one of the speakers. He was elected one of the first Board of Trustees, upon which he has continued to serve. Mr. Hoyne further showed his practical interest in the University by endowing a professorship of law, subscribing and paving five thousand dollars for that purpose. As the chairman of a committee for that object, Mr. Hoyne gave his active personal efforts towards the founding of the law school, now so ably conducted by Professor Booth. He was thoroughly successful. The school was formally opened September 21, 1859, and placed under the charge of a Board of Counselors, including such names as Judge Drummond, E. B. McCagg, Esq., Judge Scates, Hon. Mark Skinner and others, of which Mr. Hoyne was made chairman. The Board of Trustees, appreciating the services of Mr. Hoyne, properly acknowledged his endowment by establishing a chair in the faculty known as “The Hoyne Professorship of International and Constitutional Law.” At the annual commencement in 1862, the University further honored him by conferring upon him the honorary degree of LL. D.
Mr. Hoyne rendered another memorable service to the University in securing the great Lalande prize telescope of Alvan Clark. Hon. J. Y. Scammon’s munificent offer of the building stimulated subscriptions for the observatory, while the practical judgment and indefatigable efforts of Mr. Hoyne secured for Chicago the greatest scientific instrument of the age. This glass, as is well known, was made by contract with Alvan Clark, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a Mississippi College, but the outbreak of the war left it upon his hands. Mr. Hoyne went to Boston with full power to secure a proper instrument, two only then being considered, the glass of Mr. Fitz, at New York, and Mr. Clark’s. The committee, not being properly advise
This being the last public appearance of Mr. Hoyne, we must draw
our sketch to a close with a brief notice of him as a man, professionally and socially. As a lawyer, he has been remarkably successful. As an advocate of young Francis Bush, some eight years since, in defending him for the murder of McCarty, he will long be remembered. In the celebrated Judd-Wentworth libel cases, he displayed signal ability, and was sustained in his points of demurrer by the Supreme Court. He was also actively engaged in the Burch divorce case, in which he made a strong appeal to the jury, and was retained to defeat the famous “Wabash Swindle,” so called.
As a man, Mr. Hoyne is of a very impulsive nature, quick and passionate in spirit, but never cherishing resentment or harboring ill-will against any person. Strictly honorable in all his relations with men, he is a foe to all pretenders and quacks, to shams of every description, whether in the law or out of it. He is a sworn foe to political demagogueism, and for that reason, although ambitious, prefers to remain even in obscurity, to paying the price of servility required by the partisans who control nominating conventions. His attachments are very strong, and his friendships warm. Physically, he is of medium height, well proportioned and strongly knit together; his complexion is rather dark, with black eyes and hair; his face is one of those strongly marked and clearly open ones, which at once give you an index to the inner man.