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David B. Hill
United States Senator
from New York
In office
January 7, 1892 – March 3, 1897
Preceded byWilliam M. Evarts
Succeeded byThomas C. Platt
29th Governor of New York
In office
January 6, 1885 – December 31, 1891
LieutenantDennis McCarthy (acting) (1885)
Edward F. Jones (1886–1891)
Preceded byGrover Cleveland
Succeeded byRoswell P. Flower
Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1883 – January 6, 1885
GovernorGrover Cleveland
Preceded byGeorge Gilbert Hoskins
Succeeded byDennis McCarthy (acting)
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the Chemung County district
In office
January 1, 1871 – December 31, 1872
Preceded byEdward L. Patrick
Succeeded bySeymour Dexter
Personal details
David Bennett Hill

(1843-08-29)August 29, 1843
Havana, New York
DiedOctober 20, 1910(1910-10-20) (aged 67)
Albany, New York
Political partyDemocratic

David Bennett Hill (August 29, 1843 – October 20, 1910) was an American politician from New York who was the 29th Governor of New York from 1885 to 1891. He also represented New York in the United States Senate from 1892 to 1897.


Gubernatorial portrait of David B. Hill.
Gubernatorial portrait of David B. Hill.

David B. Hill was born on August 29, 1843 in Havana, New York. He was educated locally, studied law, and began a practice in Elmira in 1864. In 1864 was he was named Elmira's City Attorney. He was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly (Chemung County) in 1871 and 1872. Hill was elected an alderman of Elmira in 1880, served as Mayor of Elmira in 1882, and was President of the New York State Bar Association from 1886 to 1887. Hill served as Lieutenant Governor from 1883 to 1885, elected in 1882 on the ticket with Governor Grover Cleveland.

He became governor in 1885, when Cleveland resigned to take office as President of the United States. Hill won election to the office of governor in his own right in 1885 and 1888. While Cleveland had publicly advocated for civil service reform, Hill embraced the role of patronage in politics and built up a strong following. During Hill's tenure as governor, the Democratic Party organization in New York polarized between those loyal to Hill and those who favored Cleveland.[1]

As governor, Hill opposed attempts to enact civil service reform and impose taxes on liquor. He supported tenement house regulation and labor reforms, such as maximum work hours.[2] On May 15, 1885, Hill signed "a bill establishing a 'Forest Preserve' of 715,000 acres that was to remain permanently 'as wild forest lands.'"[3] This tract soon became the Adirondack Park.

During his tenure as governor, William Kemmler was executed in the electric chair, the first inmate in the country ever to be put to death in this manner. On April 23, 1889, Hill vetoed a bill from the state legislature that would block the street construction at the Polo Grounds. He also vetoed two times (1888 and 1889) a ballot reform bill by the Republican legislature to stop the rife election fraud in New York.[4]

After the 1888 elections, which saw the defeat of Cleveland and the re-election of Hill, Hill established effective control over the state Democratic Party. Democratic gains in the 1890 elections gave the Democratic Party a majority in the legislature and the ability, and Hill had the legislature elect him to the United States Senate. The legislature elected Hill to the Senate in January 1891, but Hill did not take the seat until January 1892.[1]

Hill sought the Democratic nomination in the 1892 presidential election, running as a supporter of bimetallism. Strongly opposed to the prospect of Hill winning the party's nomination, Cleveland decided to seek a second term. At the 1892 Democratic National Convention, Cleveland defeated Hill and Governor Horace Boies on the first presidential ballot. Cleveland went on to defeat President Benjamin Harrison in the general election.[5]

Hill was defeated by Republican Levi P. Morton when, as a sitting U.S senator, he ran again for governor in November 1894. While Senator in 1893 and 1894 he blocked President Cleveland's two appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court: William B. Hornblower and Wheeler H. Peckham who had opposed Hill's political machine. He was defeated by Republican Thomas C. Platt in the 1897 Senate election.

Hill opposed the nomination of William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election, but supported Bryan in the general election against the Gold Democrats. Hill received significant support for the vice presidential nomination at the 1900 Democratic National Convention, but the party nominated former Vice President Adlai Stevenson I. Hill served as the campaign manager of Democratic presidential nominee Alton Parker in the 1904 presidential election.[2]

Hill died at Wolfert's Roost, his country home near Albany on October 20, 1910 from the effects of Bright's Disease and heart disease. He was buried in Montour Cemetery in Mountour Falls.


  1. ^ a b Bass, Herbert (July 1960). "JOURNAL ARTICLE DAVID B. HILL AND THE "STEAL OF THE SENATE," 1891". New York History. 41 (3): 299–311.
  2. ^ a b Kennedy, Robert C. (2001). "On This Day". New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  3. ^ Nash, Roderick F. 2001. Wilderness and the American Mind, 4th ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, p.119.
  4. ^ William M. Ivins: On the Electoral System of the State of New York. A paper presented at the twenty-ninth annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association. New York 1906.
  5. ^ "The Democratic Nomination". Harper's Weekly. Retrieved 22 October 2017.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Grover Cleveland
Democratic nominee for Governor of New York
1885, 1888
Succeeded by
Roswell P. Flower
Preceded by
Roswell P. Flower
Democratic nominee for Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Wilbur F. Porter
New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Edward L. Patrick
New York State Assembly
Chemung County

Succeeded by
Seymour Dexter
Political offices
Preceded by
George Gilbert Hoskins
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Dennis McCarthy
Preceded by
Grover Cleveland
Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Roswell P. Flower
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William M. Evarts
 U.S. senator (Class 3) from New York
Served alongside: Frank Hiscock, Edward Murphy, Jr.
Succeeded by
Thomas C. Platt
This page was last edited on 7 May 2020, at 19:44
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