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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 22, 2003 - Issue 81


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Judge Henry D. Barron - 1833-1882

From: Barron County Shield - March 30, 1877

Judge Henry D. Barron

For Judge Barron, and in honoring of him, the County in which we write this, and in which the Shield is published, was named by the legislature upon petition of the County Board of Supervisors of this county.

Henry D. Barron was born in the town of Wilton, Saratoga County, New York on April 10, 1833. His advantages of education found in the common schools of N.Y. thirty years ago. His early life was that of rural boyhood, which included hard work, little schooling and little play. With the few dollars saved from his earnings, and a little help from relatives, he entered Ballstown Spa Law School, where he pursued a course of studies, lasting one year. He had written more or less for the press; he had a tolerably extensive knowledge of the science of law; and he possessed barely sufficient money to pay the expenses of a journey to Wisconsin, where he settled in the village of Waukesha, a thriving county seat, twenty miles west of Milwaukee. Not being of age he could not be admitted to the practice of the law, but he was able to buy a newspaper - the Waukesha Democrat - on advantageous terms, for credit, and he became its editor and proprietor. He changed its name to the Chronotype, and under his charge it assumed a place in the front rank of the Weekly Press of the State. At that time the Democratic Party was the only political party throughout the Northwest. In Wisconsin it was extremely radical and progressive. It had adopted land reform, anti-banking, or the Bentenian financial policy, slavery restrictions, homestead exemption, liberal suffrage laws and the civil rights of women, as cardinal principles. It was a party of young blood, new ideas and sanguine hopes, and thrilled by the impulses of a broad humanity. A grand career of progress and development, full of most useful and most beneficial fruits, appeared outspread before it. To this party with the humanitarian and benevolent impulses of which he was in exquisite sympathy, Mr. Barron attached himself, and notwithstanding his youth, he became one of its most prominent members, and most eloquent advocates. How this party subsequently fell under the malign influences of a reactionary and conservative policy is a history, which belongs to other pages. Mr. Barron's ardor in support of the distinctive principles, which it possessed when he embraced it never cooled or weakened. He was appointed postmaster in Waukesha by President Pierce, and continued the publication of the Chronotype until 1857, when it passed into other hands, and he removed to this part of the State. He had in the mean time been admitted to the practice of law in all the courts. In 1860, when he was twenty-seven years old, he was appointed, by Governor Randall, Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit. He served a short term in that office, when he was retained by Caleb Cushing, to take charge of the latter's large interests at St. Croix Falls. That has continued to be his place of residence since that time, from which, however, he has been frequently called in discharge of public duties.

At the outbreak of the war, Judge Barron took a position in the support of the war measures, and would have been appointed to a military position but for defective eyesight. He was prominent in the councils of the war party of the State. He supported Lincoln's administration, and became gradually identified with the Republican Party, of which he has continued to be an active and influential member. In 1862 his legislative career commenced, and he was unanimously, elected a member of the State Legislature for this northwestern district of the state. In November of 1871, while in Washington, discharging the duties of Fifth Auditor of the United States Treasury, he was again elected to the Legislature, and, at the solicitation of neighbors and friends, in the following January resigned his office in Washington to accept the seat in the Legislature, where his district had large and important interests to be guarded, and which the district believe he, in preference to all others, could best protect. He is an admirable presiding officer of a deliberative body, discharging its responsibilities, and often trying and delicate decisions, with uncommon tact, urbanity and decision. He was a model legislator, possessing a rare proficiency in parliamentary law and usage; is a man of the most stubborn integrity, whose industry is indomitable, and method, sincerity and zeal enter into all his business habits. He was always found familiar with the process of all-important measures, knew the condition of every bill of importance, and the nature of all conflicting interests pertaining to subjects of legislation. He was not a great talker, though exceedingly effective in debate from thorough acquaintance with every topic, from his well developed logical powers, from the candor and sincerity in which he approaches all subjects of discussion, and from a knowledge of the temper of public bodies, which seems like intuition. He rarely failed to carry with him a majority of the body of which he was a member, and his successes in this department of public life have had a few parallels. There are host of important laws on the statute books of this State, which bear the marks of his skillful hand. He was unanimously elected member of the Assembly for the Counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Barron, Douglas and Polk, in 1863, reelected in 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1871 and 1872: was the Speaker of the Assembly of 1866 and again in 1873; was one of the presidential electors at large in 1868, and president of the Electoral College of that year; was a presidential elector again in 1872, and president of the Electoral College; was elected by a joint ballot of the Legislature, Regent of the State University, which position he recently resigned; is one of the Vice Presidents of the State Historical Society; was nominated in March 1869, by President Grant for Chief Justice of Dakota Territory, and declined the same; was appointed the Fifth Auditor of the United States Treasury, by the President in April 1869, which office he resigned January 1, 1872; was appointed by Governor Fairchild a trustee for Wisconsin of the Antietam Cemetery in May, 1871, was elected to the Senate in 1873 and reelected in 1875; was chosen President Pro Tem in 1875. Last spring the people of this, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, comprising the counties of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas and Polk, without regard to party, in large numbers signed calls upon him to become their candidate for Circuit Judge, which requests he complied with, and was elected by a handsome plurality vote, for six years, ending July 1, 1882. He thereupon resigned his seat in the State Senate. Thus far his discharge of judicial duties has been as credible to him, as satisfactory to the public and the bar appearing before him, as his previous record to his constituents. If he should live to serve this term out he will have been in the active and untiring service of the public twenty-two years; for which his recompense will have been but little until, at least the commencement of his judgeship.

Judge Barron is one of our few incorruptible men. His private fortune is small. It has not been swelled by illicit gains, although he charters of wealthy corporations, and laws from which mammoths pecuniary interests derive there protection and support, owe their origin and enactment to his labors. He is without declared enemies in his party, or in the politics of his State; thoroughly familiar with political history and current events, and is one of the best 'self-made men' in the Northwest. He is in the prime of life and the maturity of his powers, and has before him a long career of honor and usefulness.

Maps by Travel

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