Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

October 19, 2013

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Samuel Works, 'old school' politician

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

Works encountered men from all of these political backgrounds when he went to Albany early in 1837.  He quickly became allied with Whig leaders William Seward and Thurlow Weed, boarding at Weed’s house while he was in Albany. 

The most pressing issues of that time included internal improvements (how much to spend on roads, bridges, and canals); whether the United States Bank should be re-chartered (Andrew Jackson had abolished it); whether imprisonment for debt should be suspended; the use of paper money versus the silver standard; and a host of other issues.

In addition, Works had to contend with numerous office seekers sending letters touting their merits for a particular job while others warned him not to give a particular job to a certain person. 

Keeping his constituents happy was not Samuel Works’ only concern while holding a seat in the Senate. In 1838, Hannah Works took ill and returned to her family in Vermont where she died on May 21. They had no children and Works returned to Albany and his term in the Legislature. In 1840 he was elected to a second term.

Also that year, Whig candidate William Henry Harrison was elected to the presidency, only to die one month after his inauguration in 1841. He was succeeded by John Tyler, a former Democrat and a southerner who was not well liked by members of his newly adopted party.

Works continued to push for more internal improvements in the Western New York region, particularly in relation to the Erie Canal, which was of particular importance to him. Once again, however, he was beleaguered by his constituents for appointments and promotions. 

Works tried his best to keep himself above the political infighting in Albany, but as early as 1842, the lines were already being drawn for the 1844 presidential election. In June, Works was invited to attend and speak at a meeting in New York City “for the purpose of presenting the name of the Hon. Henry Clay of Kentucky as the Whig candidate for the Presidency of the United States.” 

Dissatisfaction with the pro-Southern, former Democrat turned Whig John Tyler had grown considerably over the past year and the Whigs were anxious to disassociate themselves with Tyler and nominate Clay for the Presidency. Samuel Works was one of those who supported Clay.

NEXT WEEK: Samuel Works retires to Lockport.

 

 

 

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.

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