Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

October 26, 2013

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Samuel Works, 'old school' politician, part 2

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In September 1844, Samuel Works was once again nominated as the Whig candidate for the 8th New York State Senate District. His opponent was Frederick F. Backus, a Loco Foco Democrat from Rochester. Although many of his supporters believed Works would easily win, he himself knew that the result would depend on the national election. 

In 1844 the presidential election hinged on the question of whether Texas should be annexed as a slave state. James K. Polk of Tennessee, the dark-horse Democratic candidate, was pro-expansion and pro-slavery. Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Whig candidate, was against expansion and was lukewarm on the slavery issue. 

The race was very close, with Clay losing by less than 40,000 popular votes. The Democrats’ victory not only propelled Polk to the presidency, it also cost Works his seat in the state Senate.

By early 1845, Works had returned to his home in Lockport to resume life as a private citizen. He continued to oversee his tannery business as well as “putting on his leather apron and old clothes, engaging with his workman in the practical duties of the business.” 

Five years later, Works, “from his ardent devotion to the canal interest,” was induced to accept the position of superintendent of the Lockport section of the Erie Canal. He was close to 70 years of age.

Works made his home at 12 Charles St., at the intersection with Chestnut Street, but evidently owned property on Market Street as well. 

In 1859, when he was no longer the canal supervisor in Lockport, Works petitioned New York State for financial compensation for land he owned that had been taken by the state for the enlargement of the canal. He claimed “two hundred and fifty dollars and interest ... for 66 feet taken at 97 Market Street and 22 feet taken at 95 Market Street.” 

There is no indication whether Works ever received his payment.

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