David Bennett Hill Edit Profile
He was educated locally, studied law, and began a practice in Elmira in 1864. In 1864 was he was named Elmira's City Attorney.
He was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly (Chemung County) in 1871 and 1872. Hill was elected an alderman of Elmira in 1880, served as Mayor of Elmira in 1882, and was President of the New York State Bar Association from 1886 to 1887. Hill served as Lieutenant Governor from 1883 to 1885, elected in 1882 on the ticket with Governor Grover Cleveland.
He became governor in 1885, when Cleveland took office as President of the United States. Hill won election to the office of governor in his own right in 1885 and 1888. While Cleveland had publicly advocated for civil service reform, Hill embraced the role of patronage in politics and built up a strong following. During Hill's tenure as governor, the Democratic Party organization in New York polarized between those loyal to Hill and those who favored Cleveland.
As governor, Hill opposed attempts to enact civil service reform and impose taxes on liquor. He supported tenement house regulation and labor reforms, such as maximum work hours. On May 15, 1885, Hill signed "a bill establishing a "Forest Preserve" of 715,000 acres that was to remain permanently 'as wild forest lands." This tract soon became the Adirondack Park.
During his tenure as governor, William Kemmler was executed in the electric chair, the first inmate in the country ever to be put to death in this manner. On April 23, 1889, Hill vetoed a bill from the state legislature that would block the street construction at the Polo Grounds. He also vetoed two times (1888 and 1889) a ballot reform bill by the Republican legislature to stop the rife election fraud in New York.
After the 1888 elections, which saw the defeat of Cleveland and the re-election of Hill, Hill established effective control over the state Democratic Party. Democratic gains in the 1890 elections gave the Democratic Party a majority in the legislature and the ability, and Hill had the legislature elect him to the United States Senate. The legislature elected Hill to the Senate in January 1891, but Hill did not take the seat until January 1892.
Hill sought the Democratic nomination in the 1892 presidential election, running as a supporter of bimetallism. Strongly opposed to the prospect of Hill winning the party's nomination, Cleveland decided to seek a second term. At the 1892 Democratic National Convention, Cleveland defeated Hill and Governor Horace Boies on the first presidential ballot. Cleveland went on to defeat President Benjamin Harrison in the general election.
Hill was defeated by Republican Levi P. Morton when, as a sitting U.S senator, he ran again for governor in November 1894. While Senator in 1893 and 1894 he blocked President Cleveland's two appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court: William B. Hornblower and Wheeler H. Peckham who had opposed Hill's political machine. He was defeated by Republican Thomas C. Platt in the 1897 Senate election.
Hill opposed the nomination of William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election, but supported Bryan in the general election against the Gold Democrats. Hill received significant support for the vice presidency at the 1900 Democratic National Convention, but the party nominated Adlai Stevenson I. Hill served as the campaign manager of Democratic presidential nominee Alton Parker in the 1904 presidential election.
Hill died at Wolfert's Roost, his country home near Albany on October 20, 1910 from the effects of Bright's Disease and heart disease. He was buried in Montour Cemetery in Mountour Falls.
DiedOctober 20, 1910 (aged 67)
Resting placeMontour Cemetery, Mountour Falls, New York, United States
Political PartyDemocratic Party