Hewitt, Abram S.


Manufactured 1st structural wrought iron beams 1845 and 1st US-made steel 1870, NY US Rep & NYC Mayor


Autograph ID: 7046
Condition: Very good
Description: “Abram S. Hewitt (1822-1903) New York iron manufacturer, Democratic National Committee chairman 1876-77, NY US Rep, New York City Mayor. He was the son-in-law of industrialist-inventor-philanthropist Peter Cooper and is best known for his co-founding in 1859, with Peter Cooper, of the Cooper Union, and for planning the financing and construction of the 1st line of the New York City Subway system. His father emigrated from England in 1796 to work on a steam engine to power Philadelphia’s water plant. Hewitt graduated from Columbia College 1842 and traveled to Europe 1843-44 with Edward Cooper, son of industrialist entrepreneur Peter Cooper, another future New York City mayor. In 1855 Hewitt married Edward’s sister. In 1845, financed by Peter Cooper, Hewitt and Edward started an iron mill in Trenton, New Jersey, the Trenton Iron Co., where, in 1854, they produced the first structural wrought iron beams. After his marriage he supervised construction of Cooper Union, Peter Cooper’s free educational institution, and chaired the board of trustees until 1903. In 1871, inspired by reformer Samuel Tilden, he was prominent in the campaign to bring about the fall of the “Tweed Ring”, and helped reorganize the New York Democratic Party which Tweed and Tammany had controlled. He was US Rep 1875-79 and became head of the Democratic National Committee in 1876, when Tilden ran for President. He was again US Rep 1881-86. His most famous speech was made at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. In 1886, Hewitt was elected NYC mayor with Tammany’s support despite his being leader of the Party’s anti-Tammany “Swallowtails”. Tammany feared a win by United Labor Party candidate Henry George might reorganize politics in the city along class lines, rather than along ethnic lines, where Tammany drew its power. Theodore Roosevelt, GOP candidate, came in 3rd. Hewitt was unsuccessful as mayor due to his unpleasant character and nativist beliefs: he refused, for instance, to review the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which alienated most of the Democratic power base. Hewitt also refused to allow Tammany to control patronage and Tammany saw to it that Hewittt was not nominated for a 2nd term. He defended sound money practices and civil service reform and developed innovative funding and construction plans for the NYC Subway system, for which he is known as the “father of the New York City subway system”. As a philanthropist, Hewitt was especially interested in education. In 1876 he was elected president of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, was a founder and trustee of the Carnegie Institution, and also a trustee of Barnard College and of the American Museum of Natural History.

Signed 1 ¼ x 5 ¼ fragment of an autograph album page, adds “New York” under his signature, likely while US Rep; undated but ca. 1878”
Type: Signature

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