THADDEUS HYATT DIES ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT.
Well Known Inventor and Friend of John Brown Had Lives
Quietly For Years
HYATT'S INTERESTING CAREER.
Arrested When He Declined to Give Testimony in Washington—His
Thaddeus Hyatt died yesterday sat
Sandown, Isle of Wight, England. He completed his 85 years of
life last Sunday. He was born in Rahway, N.J., July 21, 1816.
His youth and manhood were spent in New York. He was the inventor
and manufacturer of the bullseye glass lens, which, as a means
of admitting light to cellars and sub-cellars and vault under
sidewalks, added untold thousands of dollars to the value of
the business property in the lower part of the city. Of course,
he acquired wealth, but not to hide money in a napkin. His
success in business merely served to furnish him with facilities
for identifying himself with enterprises for the benefit of
mankind and the uplifting of those who were downtrodden.
In the early 50s, when the "irrepressible
conflict" began to assume serious proportions and when the
development and spread of anti-slavery sentiment was working havoc
in political parties, as evinces in the revolution in the Whig
party and the division of its elements between the Democracy and
the new Republican parties, Mr. Hyatt found himself an active
anti-slavery man. Wherever he gave himself he gave his means with
a liberality proportioned by whatever were the demands of emergencies.
His house was a headquarters of the leading spirits of the
anti-slavery reform. He threw himself into the non-extension
of slavery movement, and, therefore, was a Republican as soon as
there was a Republican party. He was the friend of the leaders
against slavery in what was known as the Kansas-Nebraska agitation.
It was in that period that he became the fast and uncompromising
friend of John Brown, who, when in New York, always found hospitality
in the Morton street house of Hyatt.
Infractions upon his several parents
cause litigation, which absorbed considerable of his time and
attention, but he always found a liberal margin of time to devote
to the cause of mankind. He traveled almost incessantly between
Kansas and New York during the memorable struggle for non-extension.
In the Fremont campaign of 1856 he was a mighty factor. His forte
lay not so much in making speeches as in securing the services of
and sustaining the most distinguished orators of the time. His
speeches were mostly in the form of checks.
It might be expected that Mr. Hyatt
would at some point touch a danger point and be called upon to
suffer. This point was reached after the execution of John Brown,
when, at the instance of Senator Mason, of Virginia, he was
summoned to appear before the United States Senate to give testimony
regarding the movements leading up to the Harper's Ferry fiasco
of John Brown. Mr. Hyatt declined to give any testimony on the
subject, and thereupon (1860) was committed to the Old Capital
Prison in Washington. Instead of sitting down and posing as an
incarcerated martyr, Mr. Hyatt at once resolved to make himself
at home for an indefinite period, he had prison-room handsomely
decorated and furnished. This done he issued to all his friends
in and out of Congress his "at home" cards, and he was never
lonesome—never lacked companions.
During this incarceration he provided
for monster mass meetings at the Cooper Union, in New York, the
first in the series being that known as "the John Brown meeting,"
which was addressed by Wendell Phillips and the Rev. George B.
Cheever, D.D., pastor of the Church of the Puritans, in Union
Other meetings followed in close succession. Hyatt sent
communications from his jail home to the newspapers, and so kept
going a fearless and effective agitation of the public mind. The
pro-slavery forces in the United States Senate saw their error and
on the motion of the senator who caused his imprisonment, Mr. Hyatt
was literally ordered out of jail. He at once telegraphed to his
representative in New York, "Have been kicked out; will be home
After the election of Abraham Lincoln,
came the famine in Kansas, resulting from failure in crops. Mr.
Hyatt had the celebrated Kansas Relief Committee organized, and
through its instrumentality Kansas was once more the recipient of
a national hospitality which was generous and helpful. Mr. Hyatt
traveled to Kansas and personally organized committees for the
distribution of the money, food, seeds, clothing, etc., which were
kept going thither without pause until the work was done. "Bleeding
Kansas" was again redeemed through the ministrations of Thaddeus
Among the literature which he had
prepared and put into circulation was all that pertained to John
Brown, by Wendell Phillips, William Loyd Garrison, Governor Andrews,
Dr. George B. Cheever, Theodore Parker, Charles Sumner and others.
Of his Kansas work, Mr. Hyatt wrote in a letter to his son in
recent years, "I started with not a soul to encourage me in the
belief of doing anything. 'Kansas is played out' was the cry on
all sides. But I did a wonderful work with Pomeroy and Arny's
help—a work that amazes me as I look back upon it, one million
in hard cash, seed corn, clothing, etc., was the footing up of the
work, $50,000 of which was contributed by the State of New York."
It was Daniel Lord, one of New York's greatest lawyers, who,
meeting Hyatt after many years of peace, exclaimed with uplifted
hand, "Mr. Hyatt, the people of Kansas should erect a statue of
gold to your memory, sir!"
Mr. Hyatt was a genius. He was the
inventor of a variety of improvements in building. He, not long
since, while on a visit to the Eagle, claimed to have thirty years
ago and more planned out what the people were now please to call
skyscrapers. He had some ideas about a flying machine which were
original, but many of his notions were set aside owing to the
attention he had to give to immediate business interests.
In religion the later years of Mr. Hyatt's
life were given up to theosophy. He indulged in a sort of belief
in spiritism—not spiritualism—in which he appeared to
find great comfort. It was a medium by which, at his advanced age,
when old associates and friends had departed from him, he could
summon them before him again and hold sweet communion with them.
Holding these views, he took occasion to contend against the
representations of modern spiritualism. As a traveler, in addition
to what has been noted, he crossed the Atlantic some seventy-six
times, and was familiar with many of the leading captains of
steamships. In the last letter which he wrote to his son here,
Dr. Thaddeus P. Hyatt of Montague street, alluding to our intensely
warm weather, he wrote: "The papers now give us dreadful accounts
from America, frightful scenes in New York and Brooklyn and all over.
Are we in the last days of St. John's Apocalyptic angels, or what
is the matter with old Mother Earth?"
The life of Mr. Hyatt was long and for the most
part useful. His aims were humans and he had exalted views of his
relations with and obligations on behalf of mankind. He aimed to
make the world better for his having been in it, and fortune and
nature favored him in means to work with. He was one of those
American noblemen for whom history has no need to offer apology.