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Crowbar Governor

The Life and Times of Morgan Gardner Bulkeley

Kevin Murphy

Publication Year: 2011

While president of Aetna Life from 1879 to 1922, Morgan Bulkeley served four terms as mayor of Hartford, two terms as Connecticut's governor, and one term as a United States senator. His friends and business and political acquaintances were a who's who of the Gilded Age: Samuel Clemens, J. P. Morgan, Samuel and Elizabeth Colt, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Albert Spalding, General Sherman, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Katherine Hepburn, as well as every president from Ulysses Grant to Warren Harding. In 1874 Bulkeley formed the Hartford Dark Blues who soon joined the unruly National Association, antecedent of the National League. He served as the league's first president for a year, and was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It was during Bulkeley's controversial "holdover" term as governor that he earned the nickname "Crowbar Governor." He used a crowbar to remove a lock that had been placed on his office door after refusing to vacate the governor's chambers on a technicality. Written in classic storyteller fashion, and augmented by copious research, Crowbar Governor offers readers a privileged glimpse into life and politics in Connecticut during the Gilded Age.

Ebook Edition Note: Eight images from the Connecticut Historical Society have been redacted.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Cover

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pp. c-vi

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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PREFACE

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pp. ix-xii

In 1911, when Morgan Bulkeley finished his only term in the u.s. Senate, the Hartford Courant printed this summary: ‘‘To some he’s ‘Senator’ Bulkeley; To many, he’s ‘President’ Bulkeley; Then again, he’s the ‘Honorable’ Mr. Bulkeley. But his close friends, those who know him well, call him by the title he likes best, ‘Governor’ Bulkeley, and when they do, he does not feel the least slighted because...

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CHAPTER 1. THE MAN

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pp. 1-8

On a Saturday morning in early June 1922, a trim, eighty-four-year-old man stepped out onto the white-columned porch of Beaumaris, his sprawling waterfront cottage in the borough of Fenwick. Beaumaris, a mammoth structure of weathered timbers and shingles, sat forty yards west of Fenwick Avenue. On a clear day, its owners espied an unobstructed southern view across Long Island...

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CHAPTER 2. THE JUDGE'S WORLD

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pp. 9-22

Eliphalet Bulkeley was born in Colchester, Connecticut, in the summer of 1803. At the time of Eliphalet’s birth, the Bulkeleys, now five generations strong, were one of the leading families of Colchester. During those years, Colchester grew steadily as a manufacturing town, and with this industrial growth came the demand for labor. By the time Eliphalet graduated from the local Bacon Academy...

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CHAPTER 3. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS

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pp. 23-39

When Morgan Bulkeley arrived in Brooklyn Heights in 1854, Greater Brooklyn was in the process of absorbing Williamsburgh.∞ The final incorporation produced a city with a population of 205,000—ten times that of Hartford. Still, less than 17,000 inhabitants lived in the small village of Brooklyn Heights where Morgan’s aunt and uncle lived.≤ For the next eighteen years, Morgan Bulkeley’s

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CHAPTER 4. RETURN TO HARTFORD

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pp. 40-59

While business and politics kept Morgan Bulkeley active in Brooklyn Heights, back in Hartford his parents had been making some changes. They never got over the death of their son Charlie, and old memories in their home on Church Street proved too much. Thus, at the beginning of February 1870, the Judge and Lydia Bulkeley bought a large, 1835 brick Italianate home at 136 Washington

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CHAPTER 5. MAYOR BULKELEY: PART ONE

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pp. 60-82

By 1880, Hartford had burgeoned into an industrial powerhouse. There were 800 manufactories churning out a prodigious variety of consumer goods. Hartford’s work force, now 20,951 strong, brought home $8.45 million a year, amounting to an average annual income of more than $400.∞ The stunning variety of goods produced in Hartford made the city fairly unique, as single companies—Du Pont...

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CHAPTER 6. WEDDING BELLS

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pp. 83-92

Considering that Morgan Bulkeley didn’t get married until he was forty-seven, it is quite possible that he considered business, politics, horse racing and baseball, more important than attracting a wife and starting a family. Or maybe, as they say, he just hadn’t met the right woman.
In truth, Bulkeley was shy around women. Billy, the younger brother, was a...

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CHAPTER 7. MAYOR BULKELEY: PART TWO

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pp. 93-104

Just before Morgan Bulkeley dashed off to Europe to win the hand of the enchanting Fannie Houghton, the voters of Hartford once again passed judgment on the job the mayor was doing at city hall. If Bulkeley had gained a reputation as a vote buyer in the 1880 and 1882 elections, he cemented it forever in the 1884 race. The Hartford Times wrote, ‘‘At noon, the appearance at the polls indicated...

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CHAPTER 8. CROWBAR GOVERNOR

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pp. 105-127

Since Bulkeley’s sights were set on the governorship, he wasted no time wining and dining the men who controlled his fate. In March 1888, he hosted an eightcourse dinner at The Hartford Club for the Republican State Central Committee.
The men of the Gilded Age were world-class trenchermen. Rather than grab a quick bite on the way to some other extravaganza, they enjoyed a whole evening...

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CHAPTER 9. ON THE SIDELINES

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pp. 128-144

Shortly after the New Year’s holiday in 1894, Morgan Bulkeley hosted a dinner at The Hartford Club for all of his former staff members. Since there had been many personnel changes, the club was packed. The party coincided with the fifth anniversary of Bulkeley’s inauguration as governor in 1888. Since he had no idea how long he would have to wait for Joe Hawley’s Senate seat, and was not entirely...

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CHAPTER 10. FENWICK

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pp. 145-159

Although Morgan Bulkeley was not one of the first cottagers at Fenwick, he became so inextricably linked to this upscale beach community that writing about his life without including something about it would be like writing about Teddy Roosevelt without mentioning Oyster Bay. When Bulkeley first returned to Hartford as a young bachelor, he would take a room for the weekend at the...

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CHAPTER 11. SENATOR BULKELEY

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pp. 160-182

When 1904 rolled around, Morgan Bulkeley’s biggest political dream began to snowball into a reality. He waited twelve years for the sainted Joe Hawley to give up his Senate seat and much had changed in the interim.
In that time, the population of Hartford had grown by 50 percent.1 The waves of Irish Potato Famine immigrants that had washed into Hartford beginning...

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CHAPTER 12. TWILIGHT

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pp. 183-196

By 1911, Hartford had changed so much that it is hard to believe seventy-three-year- old Morgan Bulkeley was able to keep up with it all. Just the city’s makeup seemed eye opening. Two-thirds of the city’s residents were first- or second-generation immigrants, and composed 90 percent of the population in the river wards. Italian-Americans constituted the single biggest ethnic group relocating...

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. 197-198

First, I would like to once again acknowledge the great debt that I owe my parents, Bob and Mary Murphy, for giving me life, a first-class education, and a million incidentals along the way. Too late, we realize that childhood is the most outrageous theft of services....

NOTES

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pp. 199-252

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 253-258

INDEX

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pp. 259-274

Illustrations

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pp. G1-G8


E-ISBN-13: 9780819570758
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819570741

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2011

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Subject Headings

  • Statesmen -- Connecticut -- Biography.
  • United States. Congress. Senate -- Biography.
  • Governors -- Connecticut -- Biography.
  • Bulkeley, Morgan G. (Morgan Gardner), 1837-1922.
  • Connecticut -- Biography.
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