Milton in the News – 1887

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | April 4, 2019

In this year, we encounter NH’s House Judiciary Committee investigating the alleged “corrupt methods and attempted bribery” associated with the so-called Hazen Bill (HB 28) of the prior year. That bill permitted consolidation of State-granted NH railroad leases.

NH Governor Charles H. Sawyer had vetoed the Hazen Bill (HB 28) in October of the prior year. His veto message remarked that

To my mind it has been conclusively shown that there have been deliberate and systematic attempts at wholesale bribery of the servants of the people in the legislature. It matters not that both of the parties are probably equally guilty.

Here we find John W. Sanborn, superintendent of the Northern Division of the B&M Railroad, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. He explains that about forty members of the legislature had been “under pay” of the railroad. He began by identifying several committee members, including Hon. Luther Hayes of Milton, as not having been one of those “under pay.”

HUNTING FOR BRIBES. Testimony Showing How Various People Profited by the Fight. Concord, N.H., Oct. 18. – The judiciary committee of the house appointed to investigate the charge of bribery of members of the legislature met this afternoon. John W. Sanborn was sworn: I am superintendent of the Northern division, Boston & Maine railroad; can’t give names of all parties that have been in the employ of the Boston & Maine during the session of the Legislature to secure the passage of the Hazen bill; there have been several here who have not been under pay; among these are John W. Wheeler of Salem, A.A. Woolson of Lisbon, Luther Hayes of Milton and others whose names I do not recall; I told Mr. Sulloway that if he knew anybody that would help us, to ask them to come: I think we have had some 40 under pay, perhaps more; not many more, however; we have not had a quarter as many as the Concord road; I told Newton Johnson of Portsmouth he might employ one or two men; Mr. Johnson has reported to me the names of those he has employed; Mr. Sulloway has not; I employed Edgar Aldrich and his partner, Mr. Drew and his partner, Mr. Briggs, John P. Bartlett, and Charles H. Bartlett of Manchester; George A. Ramsdell of Nashua; John Kivel and J.C. Caverly of Dover; Aaron Young and Newton Johnson of Portsmouth; James R. Jackson of Littleton; Paul Lang of Oxford; James A. Wood of Acworth; George B. French of Nashua; Frank G. Clarke of Peterboro; Charles B. Gaffney of Rochester; these men were employed to advocate the Hazen bill in every way; there were others engaged, whose names I cannot give now: they were expected to discuss railroad questions with members; Manahan of Hillsboro was one of those employed; Kirk D. Pierce was never employed; am not aware Colonel Cochrane of Nashua has assisted any; don’t know that Frank H. Pierce has been employed; don’t know that General White has rendered any services; don’t know either Postmaster Flinn or Mr. Cadwell, agent of the Jackson Manufacturing Company of Nashua; the expenses of this contest, on the side of the Boston & Maine is paid by that corporation as I understand it; I am employed by the Boston & Maine, and have charge of the legislation: am not aware that any newspapers have been returned by the Boston & Maine; have told the proprietors of certain papers that we should want them to publish certain articles for which we expected to pay: among these papers are the Manchester Union and Manchester Mirror; don’t know that any other papers have been employed to publish articles in our interest; we have engaged the Mirror and the Union to publish speeches and reports of committees; I know that articles have been published by other papers, but don’t know who secured their publication; have employed the Boston Journal to publish some articles, and have paid the regular advertising rates, have retained no paper in or out of the State; have employed no correspondents during the fight, shall pay the papers whatever is right, can’t say what our expense has been so far; don’t think it would be $250,000; should not pay any such amount; have had 16 rooms at the Phoenix Hotel; have been in Mr. Jones’ room considerable; representatives have visited my, room during the session, but can’t give names of all of them, the canvass was looked after generally by Mr. Gaffney and Mr. Wood; we had a pretty full canvass before the first vote was taken; I saw Colonel Thomas P. Cheney before the Legislature met; we had a general talk with H.M. Putney about the railroad legislation we proposed to ask for, we didn’t go into any particulars; I saw him in company with Mr. Sulloway didn’t see any other members of the railroad committee before the assembling of the Legislature; the composition of the railroad committee was not discussed; have met Colonel Cheney since the report of the committee; bad no talk with him while the matter was before the committee; have had a general conversation with H.M. Putney regarding railroad legislation: never submitted the Hazen bill to Mr. Putney; be told me that he should take no active part in the matter during the session on account of his official position: cannot tell how many passes we have issued during the session, but don’t believe we have given near as many as the Concord road; complaint has been made that we did not give passes enough; it was said that the Concord lobbyists carried blank passes and filled them in with pencil; I said that I would give passes to members and families, but I did object to giving them to their constituents; can’t say that I refused anybody, but have objected; we give none over the Boston & Maine across the State line; have given none to Canada; the Boston & Maine never gives passes over any other line, nor does it allow other roads to issue passes over its line; ever since we have been here asking for legislation in years past we have always given members and their families trip passes; we started in that way this year; by the indiscriminate and lavish use of passes by the Concord road we were compelled to issue them in greater number; we gave to friend and foe alike; don’t think that anyone was influenced by it; know there is a statute against giving passes. but it is a dead letter; have heard a great deal of loose talk about buying and selling votes on the railroad question this season; I know of no money being offered to anybody to influence his vote; I came here to get this legislation in a proper way; I have done nothing improper, and have never countenanced anything of the kind; no man has reported to me that he could get a vote by improper means; it has never been suggested in my presence that any member of the Legislature could be bought. (Boston Globe, October, 19, 1887).

Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1886; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1888


Chandler, William E. (1908). Railroad Reform in Mew Hampshire, Ancient, Modern and Future. Retrieved from

NH Railroad Commissioners. (1888). Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioners of the State of New Hampshire. Retrieved from

NH Senate. (1888). Journal of the Senate of New Hampshire, 1888. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, January 24). Charles H. Sawyer. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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