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Glenni William Scofield    

SCOFIELD, GLENNI W., son of Darius and Sallie (Glenny) Scofield, was born at Dewittville, Chautauqua county, N.Y., March 11, 1817. In early life he had such educational advantages as are usually furnished in the common schools. When about fourteen years of age he quit school to learn printing, and worked at this trade, off and on, for about three years. At seventeen he went back to his books and entered upon a course of classical study. In September, 1836, he entered Hamilton College, New York, as a freshman, and graduated from this institution with fair rank of scholarship in 1840. Many years thereafter the college conferred upon him the title of LL.D. The two years immediately following his graduation he spent in teaching; the first in Fauquier county, Va., and the second as principal of the academy in McKean county, Pa. While teaching he studied law, and in December, 1842, was admitted to the bar, and at once entered upon the practice of his profession at Warren, Pa.

November 20, 1845, he was married to Laura M. Tanner, daughter of Archibald Tanner, of Warren. They have three children— two daughters, Ellie G. and Mary M., and one son, Archibald T.— all of whom now reside with their parents.

Except when interrupted by his several terms of public service, his whole time has been devoted to his profession.

In 1846 he was appointed district attorney by Governor Shunk, which place he held for about two years. In 1849 he was elected to the Legislature of his State, and re-elected in 1850. While a member of this body he was esteemed one of its most effective debaters, and was chairman of the judiciary committee. His speech in favor of an elective judiciary was quite widely circulated at the time, and attracted considerable attention throughout the State. Although during his term of service in the Legislature he acted with the Democratic party, as he had uniformly done before, and as he did for some years after, he was always an anti-slavery man. During his college life he was a member of an abolition society, formed by a number of young men in the institution, and never relinquished his early convictions, in hostility to slavery. In accordance with these convictions and while still acting with the Democratic party, he advocated the Wilmot proviso, opposed the fugitive slave law and the repeal of the Missouri compromise, and took the anti-slavery side of all kindred questions.

When a Republican party was formed in 1856 he immediately severed his old party connections and in a public address united his political fortunes with the new party of freedom and progress. In the autumn of that year he was nominated by the Republicans for the State Senate, and in a district, before largely Democratic, was elected by a majority of twelve hundred. He occupied this position three years, and ably sustained the reputation which he had gained as a debater in the lower branch, of the Legislature. While in the Senate he introduced and advocated bills to exempt the homestead from sale for debt, and to abrogate the laws excluding witnesses from testifying on account of religious belief. Neither of these bills passed, but Mr. Scofield’s speeches in their favor, which were reported and printed, prove that they should have passed. His bills were voted down, but his arguments were not answered. He was more successful in his efforts in connection with other western members to procure State aid for the construction of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad.

For a short time in 1861, by the appointment of Governor Curtin, he was president judge of the district composed of the counties of Mercer, Venango, Clarion, and Jefferson.

In 1862 he was elected a member of the Thirty-eighth Congress and reelected to the Thirty-ninth, Fortieth, Forty-first, Forty-second, and Forty-third Congresses; the last time by the State at large. During this twelve years’ term in Congress he served on committees on elections, appropriations, Indian affairs, and for six years as chairman of the committee of naval affairs.

March 31, 1878, he was appointed by President Hayes register of the United States treasury, which office he held until May 20, 1881, and then resigned to accept a judgeship on the United States Court of Claims, to which he had been commissioned by President Garfield.

As a debater in Congress, Mr. Scofield has been much admired for his analytical, terse, and logical style. Without striving to be amusing, he not unfrequently enlivens his argument by pungent satire and humorous illustrations; but the general character of his efforts is that of clear statement and close reasoning. He seems to aim only at conviction. The following extract from a speech delivered in reply to Hon. James Brooks, of New York, in January, 1865, in the House of Representatives, is a fair specimen of his style of address and power of discussion:

"It has been often said of late that history repeats itself. Of course it cannot be literally, true; but the gentleman reiterates it, and then proceeds to search for the prototype of the terrible drama now being enacted on this continent, and affects to find it in the Revolution of 1776. Having settled this point to his own satisfaction, he proceeds to assign to the living actors their historic parts. The rebels take the position of the colonial revolutionists, the Government of the United States re-enacts the part of George III and his ministers, while for himself and the Opposition debaters of this House he selects the honorable role of Chatham, Fox, Burke, and other champions of colonial rights in the British Parliament. Let us examine this. It is true that the colonists rebelled against the Government of Great Britain, and the slave-holders rebelled against the Government of the United States; but here the likeness ends. Between the circumstances that might provoke or justify rebellion in the two cases there is no resemblance. The Government from which the colonies separated was three thousand miles beyond the seas. They could not even communicate with it in those days in less than two or three months. In that Government they had no representation, and their wants and wishes no authoritative voice. Nor was it the form of government most acceptable to the colonists. They preferred a republic. The rapidly increasing population and the geographical extent and position of the colonies demanded nationality. Sooner or later it must come. The tea tax and other trifling grievances only hurried, on an event that was sure to occur from the influences of geography and population alone. How is it in these respects with the present rebellion? The Government against which the slaveholders rebelled was not a foreign one; it was as much theirs as ours. They were fully represented in it. There was scarcely a law, indeed I think there was not a single-law upon the statute-book, to which they had not given their assent. It was the Government they helped to make, and it was made as they wanted it. They had ever had their share of control and patronage in it, and more than their share, for they boasted with much truth that cotton was king. Nor is there any geographical reasons in their favor. It is conceded, even by the rebels themselves, that a division of the territory lying compactly between the Lakes and the Gulf, the Atlantic and the Mississippi, into two nations would be a great misfortune to both.. If it were the Pacific States demanding separation, bad as that would be, there would be some sense in it; but for this territory you cannot even find a dividing line. When you attempt to run one, the rivers and mountains cross your purpose. Both the land and the water oppose division. There is no disunion outside the wicked hearts of these disloyal men. I can see no resemblance, then, between our patriot fathers, who toiled through a seven years’ war to establish this beneficent Government, and the traitors who drenched the land in blood in an attempt — I trust in God a vain one — to destroy it.

"Again, sir, in what respect do the apologists of the present rebellion in this House resemble the advocates of our great Revolution in the British Parliament? Conceding they are their equals in. statesmanship, learning, eloquence, and wit, I submit that they fall far below them in the merit of their respective causes. Chatham defended the cause of the colonists as set forth in the Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ the honorable gentlemen from New York pleads for slavery, the auction block, the coffle, the lash. With slavery he cures all national troubles. He begs for harmony among ourselves. How shall we be united? ‘Restore slavery,’ says he. He is opposed to war. How then shall rebels in arms be subdued? ‘Revive the traffic in blood.’ He is opposed to taxes. How then shall our exhausted Treasury be replenished? ‘Raise more children for the market.’ Slavery, more slavery, still more slavery, is the only prescription of the Opposition doctors. If we are to look for the representatives of these great men on this side of the Atlantic I would not select them from among those who, born and raised in the free States, with all their moral and educational advantages, had not yet quite virtue enough when the struggle came to be patriots, nor quite courage enough to be rebels, but I would rather select them from such men as Johnson, of Tennessee, or Davis, of Maryland, who, born and educated amid the influences of slavery, still stood up for the Union cause, at first almost alone. But, sir, the representatives of these men are to be found now as they were then on the other side of the Atlantic, the leaders of the liberal party in the British Parliament.

"There is another party that figures largely in the history of the revolutionary struggle that the gentleman entirely omitted to name. He gave them no place in his cast of parts. The omission may be attributed to either modesty or forgetfulness. Prior to the Revolution the members of this party had filled all the places of honor and profit in the colonies, and when the war came they heartily espoused the cause of the king, though they did not generally join his armies. Their principal business was to magnify disaster, depreciate success, denounce the currency, complain of the taxes, and denounce and dodge arbitrary arrests. To the patriot cause they were ever prophets of evil. Failure was their word. The past was a failure, the future would be. In the beginning of the war this party was in the majority in some of the colonies, and constituted a large minority in all, but as the war progressed their numbers constantly diminished. Many of the leaders were from time to time sent beyond the ‘lines’ and their estates confiscated. Most of these settled in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, right handy to the place where the gentleman informs us he was born. The members of this party were called tories, and if this war is but a repetition of the war of the Revolution, as the gentleman intimates, who are their present representatives?

"Again exclaims the gentleman, ‘You cannot subjugate eight millions people.’ I know not which most to condemn in this expression (I speak it of course without personal application), its insinuation of falsehood or its confession of cowardice. The United States does not propose to subjugate any portion of its people, but only to exact obedience to law from all. It is this misrepresentation of the purpose of the Government that still keeps alive the dying flames of the rebellion. I can go further with perfect truth, and say it was this misrepresentation that lighted those flames at first. The slave-holders were told that it was the purpose of this Administration to destroy their personal and political rights; next they were reminded that they were proud, brave, chivalric men, and then tauntingly asked if they were going to submit. They were thus fairly coaxed and goaded into rebellion. Except for this misrepresentation the Union people would have been in a large majority in all the slave States, and despite it they are in a majority in more than half of them to-day if they could be heard. But they are gagged, bound hand and foot by a despotism so cruel and so mean, so thorough and so efficient, that even the gentleman from New York has no fault to find with it. The country is too much engaged now with the immediate actors in the drama to look behind the screens for the authors and prompters of the play. But when these actors have disappeared from the stage, gone down to graves never to be honored, or wandering among strangers never to be loved; in the peaceful future, when inquisition shall be made for the contrivers, instigators, aiders, and abettors of this great crime, the two classes so often coupled in denunciation in this Hall, the abolitionists of the North and the fire-eaters of the South, will be scarcely noticed, but the quiet historian will point his slow, unmoving finger at those northern leaders who for fifteen years have deceived the South and betrayed the North. They will stand alone. The large minority that now gathers around them, moved thereto more in hopes to escape the severe hardships of the war than from any love of them or their position, will have melted away from their support like dissolving ice beneath their feet, and well will it be for their posterity if they can manage then, like Byron’s wrecks, to sink into the "Depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown."

Subjugate the South! No, sir; it is the purpose as it is the duty of the Government to liberate the South, to drive out the usurpers, and to restore to the deluded and betrayed masses the blessings of a free Republic."

Extracted from "Barnes’s Historical and Biographical Sketches of Congress

History of Warren County: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, J. S. Schenck, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1887.  More Warren County History Books  Search Hundreds of 1880s-1890s Pennsylvania County History Books for biographies and historical information on your ancestors.  View the book page images on line and print them out for your genealogy file!  Free Access to the old history books - plus birth & death records, census images and ALL other records at ancestry.com.

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