Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version “REWIND”
October 15, 2016
Glens Falls’ Famous Son:
Celebrating Charles Evans Hughes
It is fitting that on October 15, 2016, we reprint this article on Charles Evans Hughes, for on this day, the City of Glens Falls is celebrating ‘Charles Evans Hughes Day.’ The Charles Evans Hughes celebration included a special exhibition on Hughes in the Folklife Gallery at Crandall Public Library as well as lectures and plays celebrating the life and times of Mr. Hughes.
Originally located on Maple Street, this house where Charles E. Hughes was born is now on Center Street.
Glens Falls’ Famous Son
Over one hundred years ago on March 13, 1908, New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes signed the legislation that created the City of Glens Falls. The event was meaningful for him, as well as for those celebrating the centennial of the city in 2008, because Governor Hughes was born in Glens Falls at the home shown above, then located at 135 Maple Street and later moved to its present location at 20 Center Street.
A memorial boulder, near Crandall Public Library, marks the Maple Street site. (Note: the boulder has been moved to a spot near the bandstand since this article was written). A plaque was dedicated at the Center Street home on June 2, 1976, when Charles Evans Hughes Day was celebrated in Glens Falls. The plaque was erected by the Chepontuc Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Hughes’ daughter, Mrs. William T. Gossett of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, made the unveiling.
Hughes was born in this house on April 11, 1862, the only son of the Rev. David Charles and Mary Catherine (Connelly) Hughes who were married in Glens Falls in 1860. The Rev. Hughes was a Methodist minister from Wales, and became a Baptist upon arrival in this country.
In 1874 his parents moved from Glens Falls to New York City. Charles graduated from high school there at the age of thirteen, second in his class. He was educated at Madison College (today Colgate University) and Brown University, where he graduated in 1881 at the age of nineteen, youngest in his class. He then taught at Delaware Academy in Delhi, NY and attended Columbia University Law School, graduating with highest honors in 1884.
Hughes practiced law in New York City and was a professor at Cornell University Law School and New York Law School. He won public acclaim as an investigator into the gas-lighting and insurance businesses for the New York State Legislature. He went on to serve as New York Governor from 1907 to 1910.
A candidate for U.S. President in 1916, Hughes narrowly lost to Woodrow Wilson, who had been his fellow teacher at New York Law School.
In 1921, Hughes was chosen as U.S. Secretary of State by President Warren G. Harding and took over the problem of making a separate peace with Germany because of the rejection of the Treaty of Versailles. He attempted to lead the United States into the League of Nations and the World Court, but those efforts were blocked by the U.S. Senate. He did succeed, however, in negotiating an agreement for the limitation in naval armament at the Washington Conference. He later served as associate justice and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He continued to practice law and died at Osterville, Massachusetts in 1948.
Sources: The Great and the Gracious, Kathryn E. O’Brien, 1978; The Post Star of June 3, 1976; Glens Falls, the Empire City, 1908.
This portrait of Charles Evans Hughes is in the collection of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.
This article was written for the Warren County Historical Society by John Austin. It originally appeared as a Rewind article on October 15, 2007 and is repeated here as the City of Glens Falls celebrates its famous son, Charles E. Hughes.