|Henry Laurens Dawes|
Presented to the Club by Martin C. Langeveld on Tuesday evening, May 26, 2015 (that Monday being a holiday)
One of the founding members of this club in 1869 was Henry Laurens Dawes, born in Cummington in 1816. He graduated from Yale University in 1839 and became a teacher in Greenfield, where he also edited the Greenfield Recorder.
In 1842 he was admitted to the bar and opened a law practice in North Adams, maintaining his interest in journalism by editing the North Adams Transcript.
From journalism he moved into politics, being elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1848, 1849 and 1852, to the state Senate in 1850, and to the Massachusetts Constitutional convention in 1853.
He then served as U.S. district attorney for Western Massachusetts from 1853 to 1857, when he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives and served there for 23 years until 1875.
That year, Dawes was elected by the Massachusetts General Court as United States Senator from Massachusetts, to succeed Charles Sumner, who died in office. He served in the Senate until 1893, and died in Pittsfield in 1903 at the age of 86.
A friend of Abraham Lincoln, he served as a pall bearer at Lincoln’s funeral.
In the House, Dawes figured prominently in the passage of anti-slavery and Reconstruction measures during and after the Civil War, as well as in tariff legislation, the establishment of a fish commission, and the establishment of a system of daily weather reports, which was a forerunner to the United States Weather Service.