Charles R. Brayton


Charles R. Brayton

Charles R. Brayton (August 16, 1840 – September 23, 1910) was a prominent Republican politician and lobbyist in Rhode Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The New York Times called him the "Blind Boss of Rhode Island," drawing parallels with New York City's disgraced political boss, William "Boss" Tweed.

Contents

Biography

Charles Ray Brayton was born in Warwick, Rhode Island to William Daniel Brayton and Anna Maud (Clarke) Brayton. In 1857, his father was elected as a Republican representing Rhode Island in the U.S. Congress. In 1859, he began attending Brown University in Providence, but left in the middle of his sophomore year to join the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery in the Union Army of the American Civil War. He was commissioned as first lieutenant in 1861, promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1863, and to colonel in 1864. In 1865, just a month before the end of the war, he married Antoinette Percival Belden.

Political rise

After a brief stint in the peacetime army, Brayton was appointed postmaster of Port Royal, South Carolina, a city that he had helped to capture during the war. He served in a number of political appointments before returning to Warwick to fill the office of Township Clerk, a position that had also been held by his father. In 1870 he declined an appointment by President Ulysses S. Grant as Consul to County Cork in Ireland. In 1874, he became Postmaster of Providence, and in 1880 he was named Chief of the Rhode Island State Police.

Brayton became chairman of the Republican State Committee, a position that he used to become the effective "boss" of the state's Republican-controlled political system for almost thirty years to follow. In 1896, he was named to the Republican National Committee. He served as a delegate to the 1900 Republican National Convention, which nominated incumbent President William McKinley.

Loss of sight

In 1900, Brayton developed cataracts in both eyes, and in 1901 underwent an unsuccessful operation that resulted in one of his eyes being removed. As the cataracts progressed, he became functionally blind in his remaining eye.

The "Brayton Act"

In 1901, faced with a split in the state Republican party following the death in office of Republican Governor William Gregory, Brayton urged the passage of a law shifting power from the office of Governor to the securely Republican State Senate. This law, which became known as the "Brayton Act", granted almost all appointment powers to the State Senate and limited the Governor to naming his own private secretary and a small handful of minor official positions. The legislation served its purpose when Democrat Lucius F. C. Garvin was elected Governor in 1903. The law remained in effect until the "Bloodless Revolution" of 1935, when Democrats took control of the State Senate.[1]

Lobbying controversy

Brayton became an issue in the 1906 gubernatorial election when Democratic candidate James H. Higgins made public discontent with Brayton's influence the centerpiece of his campaign. According to Higgins, "the evils of lobbying" had become "an exclusive and oppressive monopoly" in Brayton's hands. Higgins won the election, and his criticisms were echoed by The New York Times, which referred to Brayton as "Rhode Island's Despot" and said that "for forty years Brayton's control over the General Assembly, and consequently over all legislation, has been practically absolute".[2]

Brayton operated out of the Rhode Island State House office of High Sheriff of Providence County, Hunter C. White. In 1907, one of Governor Higgins' first acts in office was to order White to expel Brayton, whom he described as a "moral and political pest" in the pay of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, the Providence Telephone Company, the Rhode Island Company, and other special interests. White refused, saying the matter was outside of the purview of the Governor's office, and accusing the Governor of "insolence" and political opportunism.[3][4]

Defending himself against charges of improper conduct on behalf oh his clients, Brayton said, "I have been the scapegoat of my party. People have said all sorts of things about me, most of them lies. I am not as bad as I have been painted, but I do not care much what people say. What I have done has been for the benefit of the Republican Party, and every time I have taken a retainer from any corporation I have always stipulated that I would drop the case if it turned out to be against the interest of my party."

Retirement and death

Brayton failed to install Samuel P. Colt in the United State Senate; incumbent Republican George P. Wetmore ultimately held his seat against fellow Republican Colt and Democrat Robert Hale Ives Goddard, although the protracted struggle left an empty seat in Rhode Island's delegation to the 60th Congress.

In July 1907, Brayton resigned from the Executive Committee of the State Central Committee of the Republican Party.[5] He vacated White's offices in the State House later in the year, stating that he had lingered in order to defy Governor Higgin's demands.[6]

Brayton died September 23, 1910 from diabetes and complications of a broken hip sustained in a fall.[7] He is buried in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.

See also

References

General
  • "Brayton, the Blind Boss of Rhode Island; Downfall of Republican Leader in Smallest New England State Ends a Picturesque Personality", The New York Times: SM3, July 14, 1907 
  • Colby, Frank Moore (1908), International Year Book, Dodd, Mead & Company, pp. 682 
Specific
  1. ^ Rhode Island History Chapter VII: Boom, Bust, and War, 1900-1945, Rhode Island General Assembly. Accessed January 29, 2008.
  2. ^ "Rhode Island's Despot: Something About the Man Who for Many Years Has Ruled the Little Commonwealth with a Rod of Iron", The New York Times: SM11, February 24, 1907 
  3. ^ "Higgins Flays Brayton: Directs Sheriff Not to Let Republican Boss Use His Office", The New York Times: 2, March 9, 1907 
  4. ^ "Sheriff Defies Governor's Order; White Will Not Oust Gen. Brayton, and Says Higgins Is Insolent.", The New York Times: 11, March 10, 1907 
  5. ^ "Brayton Resigns: Higgins Succeeds in Ousting Rhode Island Republican Boss", The New York Times: 4, July 5, 1907 
  6. ^ "Gen. Brayton Quits as Boss of State; Blind Leader Assures Rhode Island Republicans That He Will Not Seize Power", The New York Times: 3, October 13, 1907 
  7. ^ "Gen. C. R. Brayton, Blind Leader, Dead; Head of Rhode Island Republicans Succumbs to Diabetes Following a Fracture of the Hip", The New York Times: 11, September 24, 1910 

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brayton — may refer to a number of things:People* Brayton Biekman, a Dutch footballer. * Brayton C. Ives, was a president of Northern Pacific Railway, of the New York Stock Exchange and of the Western National Bank of New York.* Charles R. Brayton, an… …   Wikipedia

  • Brayton — ist der Name mehrerer Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Brayton (Iowa) Brayton (Nebraska) Brayton (New York) Brayton (Tennessee) Brayton Hollow (New York) Brayton Point (Massachusetts) in Australien: Brayton (New South Wales) in England: Brayton… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Charles Woodson — at an Atlanta Hawks game in May 2008. No. 21     Green Bay Packers Cornerback …   Wikipedia

  • Charles River Reservation — Charles River Basin Historic District U.S. National Register of Historic Places U.S. Historic district …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Risk — Charles Francis Risk (* 19. August 1897 in Central Falls, Rhode Island; † 26. Dezember 1943 in Lincoln, Rhode Island) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Zwischen 1935 und 1937 sowie von 1939 bis 1941 vertrat er den ersten Wahlbezirk des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Charles H. Page — Charles Harrison Page (* 19. Juli 1843 in Glocester, Providence County, Rhode Island; † 21. Juli 1912 in Providence, Rhode Island) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Im Jahr 1887 sowie zwischen 1891 und 1895 vertrat er den zweiten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Brayton, North Yorkshire — infobox UK place country = England static static image caption = Brayton Church of England Infant School latitude = 53.768231 longitude = 1.090675 official name = Brayton population = civil parish = Brayton shire district = Selby shire county =… …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Wesley — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Wesley. Charles Wesley (18 décembre 1707 29 mars 1788) est un chef de file du mouvement méthodiste, fils du pasteur et poète anglican Samuel Wesley, frère cadet du pasteur anglican John Wesley …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Charles Rogers (American football) — Not to be confused with Charles Rogers (American football coach), a college football head coach. For others with the same name, see Charles Rogers. Charles Rogers No. 80      Wide receiver Personal information Date… …   Wikipedia

  • Charles River Peninsula — The Charles River Peninsula is a 30 acre (12 ha) nature preserve in Needham, Massachusetts owned and managed by the Trustees of Reservations. The Charles River turns nearly 180 degrees, creating the peninsula. A 20 acre (8 ha)… …   Wikipedia