First Fifty Years of Cazenovia Seminary


Madison County

Sketches of Students of First Decade.

  HON. DANIEL D. PRATT. The name of this gentleman is among the earliest in the annals of the Seminary. He is a native of Madison County, New York. He entered the school in x826. He was brother to Rev. W. Pratt, of Kentucky, who also was a student at a later date. His son, James P. Pratt, now deceased, also prepared for college in Cazenovia, and graduated at Yale in 1861.
  Mr. Pratt remained at the Seminary, preparing for college, until the fall of 1827, when, at the age of eighteen, he entered the freshman class in Hamilton College, graduating from the same in 1831. While at Cazenovia he was associated with General Cochrane, of New York, who was also his classmate in college. He entered the law office of Williams & Morey, in Cazenovia, and spent the winters of 1831-32 reading Blackstone. In the ensuing spring he found himself at his home, blistering his hands with farm work, and, as he once pleasantly asserted, in disgusting his father, who had spent so much money in giving him an education, apparently to so little purpose." His pride took fire at the suggestion that "a good farmer had been spoiled in sending him to school," and one fine May morning his brother had permission to harness " old Sorrel," and take him to the canal at Chittenango, with a view to his going West. The family stock of ready money, amounting to twenty-three dollars, was gathered up to help Daniel on his way to try his fortune. His little trunk contained his scant wardrobe, and his Greek and Latin books. His father made him a present of an old "bull's-eye" silver watch, valued at five dollars---not so much for its time-keeping capabilities, for it would not run a tick, but for the solid silver in it.
  That was a memorable morning to our hero. He went directly to Lawrenceburgh, Indiana, and engaged in teaching. In 1833 he engaged in the study and practice of law in Indianapolis. In 1836 he removed to Logansport, Indiana, and continued the practice of law. When he left the bar, in 1868, it is doubtful if there was a lawyer in Indiana who had tried so many cases, civil and criminal, as Mr. Pratt.
  In 1847 the Whigs of the Ninth Congressional District nominated Mr. Pratt for Congress. He was defeated by about four hundred votes. This, for the time, cooled and cured his ambition for political distinction, and he returned, thoroughly sobered by defeat, to his profession. In 1848 he was nominated district elector, and again he canvassed the district which had ignored him the year before, advocating the Taylor and Fillmore ticket. He served as a member of the Legislature in the winters of 1851-52, and again in 1853. In 1856 he was nominated district elector, and being elected, he did what he could to promote the Fremont ticket. In 1860 he was one of the secretaries of the Chicago Convention, which nominated Mr. Lincoln. In 1868, when the Kokomo Convention could not agree upon a candidate for nomination to Congress, he was taken up, and upon the thirty-sixth ballot he was nominated, and after a weary canvass was elected. In 1869 he was by the Legislature elected to the United States Senate, and the 4th day of March following took his seat, and left March 3, 1875. In speaking of his retirement from the Senate, Mr. Pratt observes, in a letter, "That, I supposed and hoped, finished my public career, and I bade Washington a friendly adieu, and returned to my clients. It is due to them - to say that they received me with open arms; and, with unabated fondness, sought my counsel, which in consequence of political advancement had, to them, all the authority of the Delphic Oracle."
  We close this sketch of this distinguished public servant by transcribing the closing paragraph of the letter above referred to: 
"I have never during my whole professional life given ear, in the same space of time, to more recitals of rights withheld, and wrongs purposed and perpetrated, than during the months of March and April, immediately after my leaving the Senate. It is proper to add, that as they all claimed to have made me what I was and had been, my counsel was expected to be gratuitous,, and my labors a merited return for their honest efforts to advance me. Good, honest fellows! could I have the heart to charge them? Perish the thought! I was rescued from my perilous position of serving a life-time in paying these political debts by an invitation, early in May, to return to Washington to take charge of the Internal Revenue Office. After a modest hesitation of two days I accepted, and reported to the president, who, made the appointment, which my old associates in the Senate confirmed nem. con.; and thus, at this present writing, I am here superintending the collection of one hundred and twenty millions of Internal Revenue taxes for the year: Since entering the office I have not been absent for a single hour during office hours. If my life has been a success in any way, the secret is found in three words--Fidelity to duty."

pp. 52-54.

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