Boies Penrose bigraphy, stories - United States Senator from Pennsylvania

Boies Penrose : biography

November 1, 1860 - December 31, 1921

Boies Penrose (November 1, 1860 – December 31, 1921) was an American lawyer and Republican politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate from 1897 until his death in 1921.


"Public office is the last refuge of a scoundrel." — Boies Penrose

"I believe in the division of labor. You send us to Congress; we pass laws under which you make money...and out of your profits, you further contribute to our campaign funds to send us back again to pass more laws to enable you to make more money." — Senator Boies Penrose (R-Pa.), 1896, citing the relationship between his politics and big business.

"All physical and economic tests that may be devised are worthless if the immigrant, through racial or other inherently antipathetic conditions, cannot be more or less readily assimilated..." — Boies Penrose, 1902, Chinese Exclusion and the Problem of Immigration

"Yes, but I'll preside over the ruins." — Boies Penrose's reply to a Republican Party reformer's accusation that Penrose was ruining the party's prospects for victory (and the reformer's chances for dominance over the party's apparatus) by putting up a slate of candidates who were stand-pat party hacks with no chance of winning.

"I would rather have seated beside me in this chamber a polygamist who doesn't polyg than a monogamist who doesn't monag." — Penrose speaking during hearings on whether to seat Utah-elected Senator Reed Smoot, who was a member of the [then-polygamous] LDS church, but who did not himself practice polygamy.


Born into a prominent Philadelphia family of Cornish descent,White, G. Pawley, A Handbook of Cornish Surnames.(Penrose mentioned by name) he was brother to Richard Penrose and Spencer Penrose, who in 1918 would build the elegant Broadmoor Hotel at Colorado Springs, Colorado. Penrose graduated from Harvard Law School in 1881, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1883. He took an interest in politics and began working for Matthew Quay, a Pennsylvania political boss. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1884, and was elected to the State Senate in 1886, where he served as president pro tempore from 1889 to 1891.

Penrose stepped down from his position as a State Senator in 1897 to take office as a United States Senator.

He was elected Chairman of the State Republican Party when Quay stepped-down from the position in 1903. A year later, Quay died, and Penrose was appointed to succeed him as the state's Republican National Committeeman. He quickly became a power broker in the state, enabling figures like Richard Baldwin to advance through loyalty to his organization.Earl C. Kaylor, Jr., Martin Grove Brumbaugh: A Pennsylvanian's Odyssey from Sainted Schoolman to Bedeviled World War I Governor, 1862-1930 (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1996), p. 300. He was forced out of power by the progressive faction of the party, led by William Flinn, in 1912. At that year's party convention, Penrose did not stand for re-election to his national committee post. Following Flinn's departure from the party to support Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 presidential election, Penrose was able to garner enough support to return to his post as national committeeman; he would remain in the position until his death.

Penrose was a dominant member of the Senate Finance Committee and supported high protective tariffs. He had also served on the United States Senate Committee on Banking, United States Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, United States Senate Committee on Post Office and Post Roads, United States Senate Committee on Education and Labor, and United States Senate Committee on Immigration."Senator Boies Penrose Dead," Indianapolis Sunday Star, 1922-01-01 at p. 1, retrieved 2012-10-15.

In November 1915, Penrose accompanied the Liberty Bell on its nationwide tour returning to Pennsylvania from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco; Penrose accompanied the bell to New Orleans and then to Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell will not be moved from Pennsylvania again.

Penrose died in his Wardman Park penthouse suite in Washington, D.C. in the last hour of 1921, after suffering a pulmonary thrombosis, and was buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

Penrose was an avid outdoorsman and took pleasure in mountain exploration and big-game hunting. A mountain in Montana and another in the Dickson Range in the Bridge River Country in British Columbia were climbed and named by him. The Senator was a large, heavy man and according to his hunting guide, W.G. (Bill) Manson, they had to shop all over the place to get a horse big enough to fit Penrose and his custom saddle. The horse was called "Senator", and was retired to the pasture because no standard saddle would fit him.

A statue of Penrose has been in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's Capitol Park since September 1930.

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