Thomas Rutherford Bacon

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Thomas Rutherford Bacon
Thomas Rutherford Bacon

(1850-06-26)June 26, 1850
DiedMarch 26, 1913(1913-03-26) (aged 62)
Resting place Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County California, United States
Education Yale University
OccupationMinister, Professor
Employer Congregationalist Church
University of California (1888-1913)
Known for Mugwump
United States presidential election of 1884
Political party Democrat
Parent(s) Leonard Bacon
Relatives Leonard Woolsey Bacon
Edward Woolsey Bacon
George B. Bacon

Thomas Rutherford Bacon (June 26, 1850 in New Haven, Connecticut March 26, 1913 in Berkeley, California [1] ) was an American Congregational clergyman and leading Mugwump. [2] In the wake of the presidential election of 1884, he relocated to the West Coast, where he became a professor of history at the University of California.



Early Background

Thomas Rutherford Bacon came from a family of preachers: he was the son of Leonard Bacon [3] and the brother of Leonard Woolsey Bacon, [4] Edward Woolsey Bacon (of New London, Connecticut [5] ), and George B. Bacon, [6] [7] all Congregational preachers.

Bacon graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1877. [1] At Yale, he was the editor of the Yale Banner and contributed to The Yale Record . [8] At the time, The Yale Record was edited by Walker Blaine, son of Republican James G. Blaine. [9]

"Original Mugwump" and the Election of 1884

Mugwump cartoon mocking Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine in an 1884 issue of Puck Bernard Gilliam - Phryne before the Chicago Tribunal.jpg
Mugwump cartoon mocking Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine in an 1884 issue of Puck

He was a minister for three years at the Dwight Place Church in New Haven, Connecticut. On July 4, 1884, he delivered an oration on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the town. [10]

The New York Times praised Bacon for his integrity and "manliness," and called him "the original mugwump of Connecticut." [11] The "Mugwumps" were Republican political activists who left the United States Republican Party to support Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the United States presidential election of 1884. During the Third Party System, party loyalty was held in high regard and independents were rare.

In 1884, he resigned unexpectedly, after some gossiping members of his congregations ("without standing or influence") had apparently complained about him. The New York Times later reported that Blaine's campaign was behind the gossip. The congregation was, according to the papers, moved to tears when Bacon, who was described as "young, talented, eloquent, and popular," read his resignation letter. There were hints of an investigation, and the possible "disciplining [of] certain folks whose too freely wagging tongues have brought about the trouble." [12]

After Blaine's Defeat

After his church career in New Haven was ended, he devoted himself to literary pursuits, [2] publishing in the New Englander [13] [14] and serving as that magazine's associate editor from 1886 to 1887; he also edited the New Haven Morning News, from 1884 [8] to 1887.

In June 1887, his brother Edward died in Santa Clara County, California, [15] and in that same year (until 1890) Thomas took up the ministry of the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, [1] where Edward had also, briefly, been a minister. [15] In 1888, he became an instructor in the history department at the University of California, and from 1890 to 1895 was a professor in European history. In 1895, he was promoted to full professor in Modern European History, a position he held—in worsening health—until his death in 1913. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Henderson, Victor H. (1913). "University Record". University of California Chronicle. University of California. 15: 285. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  2. 1 2 "Some Hit and Miss Chat; Stray Bits of Gossip from an Observer's Note Book. A Dream's Strange Sequel--one of Leonard Bacon's Sons--Clevelands of the Last Century". The New York Times . 7 September 1885. p. 2. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  3. Clark, Joseph Sylvester; Dexter, Henry Martyn; Quint, Alonzo Hall; Langworthy, Isaac Pendleton; Cushing, Christopher; Burnham, Samuel (July 1868). "American Congregational Union". The Congregational Quarterly . 10: 299–309. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
  4. General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches of the United States, Executive Committee (1908). The Year book of the Congregational Christian churches of the United States of America. p. 12. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  5. National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States. Publishing Committee (1880). The Congregational year-book. 2. Congregational Pub. Society. p. 62. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  6. "Rev. of Leonard Woolsey Bacon, Church Papers". New Englander and Yale Review . 37 (142): 133–35. January 1878. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  7. Memorial biographies of New England historic genealogical society, 1853–1855, Volume 8. New England Historic Genealogical Society. 1907. p. 83.
  8. 1 2 "Thomas Rutherford Bacon". The tenth general catalogue of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. Bethlehem, PA: The Comenius Press. March, 1888. p. 220.
  9. "Editors Yale Record". The Yale Banner. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, Printers. 1874. p. 78.
  10. Bacon, Thomas Rutherford (1885). N. G. Osborn and B. Mansfield (ed.). The hundredth anniversary of the city of New Haven: with the oration by Thomas Rutherford Bacon, July 4, 1884. New Haven: General committee on the centennial celebration. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  11. "Some Hit and Miss Chat; Stray Bits of Gossip from an Observer's Note Book. A Dream's Strange Sequel--one of Leonard Bacon's Sons--Clevelands of the Last Century". The New York Times. September 7, 1885.
  12. "Bacon's Unexpected Resignation.a New-haven Congregational Church Losing its Pastor on Account of the Dissatisfaction of a Few Members". The New York Times . 24 March 1884. p. 1. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  13. Bacon, Thomas Rutherford (January 1890). "An English Man of Letters - The Friend of Men of Letters - Edward Fitzgerald". New Englander. 52 (238): 24–32. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  14. Bacon, Thomas Rutherford (October 1891). "Prayer in a Universe of Law". New Englander. 55 (258): 362–67. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  15. 1 2 "Death of Edward Woolsey Bacon" (PDF). The New York Times . 12 June 1887. p. 4. Retrieved 2 March 2010.