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INTRODUCTION TO FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS

Subcategories

Example of a Biographical Sketch

HON. JOHN F. DEZENDOKF, M O.
Mr. Dezendorf, the subject of this
sketch, was born in the State of New
York, on the 10th day of August, 1834,
and after receiving an academic educa
tion, learned the carpenter's trade,
studied architecture and civil engineer
ing, and at 16 years of age struck out
for Ohio, where he was for twelve years
engaged in several important public
works. Of Republican parentage and
antecedents, he naturally gravitated to
tho republican party, and the Western
reserve of Ohio was a good place to
strengthen him in this faith. During
the days when the decision of Taney
was still in force, the fugitive)slave was
often found wending his way to Canada
via the Underground railroad, and we
have heard Mr. Dezendorf tell of the
days when Professor Peck Langston
(brother of John M.) and others from
Oberlin, were confined in jail in Cleve
land for aiding  these poor unfor
tunates on his travels.
In such times and amid the political
scenes made famous by Joshua Gid
dings, Benjamin Wade, and others, and
at the same time that James A. Garfield
was drinking inspiration from the foun
tain of pure Republicanism in the same
locality, Mr. Dezendorf was imbued
with those principles which advocated
for the right of man, and here it was he
received those impressions regarding
the duty of the Government toward the
colored race, which have manifested
themselves in his subsequent public
career. In Ohio, in 1856, he cast his
first ballot, and that vote was for John
C Freemont, as President of the United
States.
On the 26th of August, 1863, Mr.
rozondorL-arrived  in Norfolk,r in ihe
State of Virginia; those were troublous
times. The close of the war in 1865
brought with it a necessity for the re
constrnction of the Stat Government.
The Negro had been made free and
clothed with the rights of citizenship.
From the very nature of things this
brought on a struggle in which the few
Union men and white Republicans of
the State were submitted to a severe
test. The Democratic party of the State
composed of former slave owners were
indignant that their former slaves
should have been put on a political
equality with them, and the struggle
which they made was long and bitter
The worst element of the Democratic
party did not fail to exercise violence in
order to carry out their ends, and rough
indeed was the path of the white man
in Norfolk, who from 1865 to 1875,
dared to raise his voice in behalf of the
Republican party and to defend the
colored Republicans in their rights and
privileges.
During all these dark and stormy
days, no man in that section was more
outspoken than the subject of our
sketch; in every campaign Mr. Dezen
dorf was heard from every hustings,
and on election day was found at the
polls defying the Democracy and insist
ing upon the rights of Republicans.
Many times did he expose himself to
danger, his life threatened, his house
stoned, himself and family subjected to
ostraoism and proscription.
But he never fsltered; always cool,
courageous and true, he persisted in his
course. For many years he was at the
head of the Republican Committee of
the city and county of NorfolK, and
contributed by hia work and hia means,
to sustaining his party in his District
and State. In 1872 he was the candi
date of the Republicans for the Legisla
ture from the city of Norfolk, was
elected, but in consequence of ways that
were dark and peculiar to the Deaaoo
racy he was counted out. In 1876 he
was a delegate to the National Eepubli
can Convention at Cincinnati. In 1878
he was a Eepublican candidate for Con
gresB from the Second District, being
nominated by acclamation. After a
stirring canvass, having for his competi
tor, John Goode, who was looked upon
as the ablest canvasser of the Demo
cratic party of the district, Mr. Dezen
dorf was elected by 1,100 majority, but
owing to Democratic methods, failed to
get the certificate, and the House being
Democratic, by the advice of his friends
he did not contest the seat. In 1880 he
was again nominated by acclamation as
the Eepublican candidate for Congress,
having his old competitor, John Goode,
as the Democratic candidate, and Ben-
jamin W. Lacy as a Eeadjuster, against
nun; he defeated them both by 1,460
majority, after one of the most heated
canvasses ever conducted in that State.
In 1872 he canvassed tho district for
General Grant In 1876 he went to the
Cincinnati Convention in favor of James
G. Blaine, and voted for him first, last,
and all the time. But on the nomina
tion of Eutherford B. Hayes, he took
the stump in his behalf. In 1880 he
was in favor of General Grant, thinking
that he was the only Eepublican who
could break the "Solid South." He
took the field against tho influence of
the Treasury Department, which was
being exercised for John Sherman, and
which was powerful, especially in Vir
ginia, and threw himself out of office;
he organized Grant clubs, and with the
help of a few friends in other sections
of the State, defeated the Treasury
combination, and sent a delegation to
Chicago instructed for General Grant.
On the nomination of Garfield and
I
Arthur, he labored earnestly to poll the i
full strength of the Eepublican vote
for them, and advised the National Com
mittee to make a strong effort to carry
the State, assuring them that in the
disorganized condition of the Democ
racy, (who had two electoral tickets in
the field,) success was certain. Other
counsels were taken, the National Com
mittee was actually persuaded to advise
the Eepublicans of the State to turn
over the electoral vote to the Eead
juster Democratic Hancock and English
ticket. To this Mr. Dezendorf entered
an earnest protest, and notwith
standing this attempt, made three days
before election, which took some votes
from Garfield and Arthur and deterr?.d
others from voting at all, the Eepubli
can electoral ticket came within 12.000
votes of carrying the Skate, proving the
wisdom of his coursa, and that. It Lis
advice had been taken and an earnest
canvass made in the State, success
would have crowned the effort. In the
Gubernatorial canvas3 of 1881 in Vir
ginia, Mr. Dezendorf, looking at the
result of the campaign of 1880, when
the Eepublican party of Virginia, after
four years of nonaction and almost com
plete disorganization, tho flickering
lamp of life having been kept burning
in the party by the exertion of Mr.
Dezendorf and a few devoted men in
other sections? polled 85,600 votes,
falling but 12,000 short of enough to
have (carried tho State, without help,
except in two or three Congressional
Districts, with a capitation tax of one
dollar es a prerequisite to voting, with
such a showing under such discouraging
circumstances, with a divided Democra
cy, and the Eepublicans in good heart
owing to the election of the President
by the National organization, Mr. De
zendotf maintained that it was the true
policy to keep up the Eepublican organ
ization and nominate a Eepublican
ticket for state officers which would be
sustained by those Democrats who from
any cause were dissatisfied with their
own party and seeking new alliances.
Mr. Dezendorf contended that any
other course would be disastrous to
the Eepublican organization. Has not
the result borne out hia assertion ?
What has been accomplished that could
not have been accomplished by keeping
the control of the organization in the
hands of the Bepublicane, not nomin
ally to be used as the plaything of one
faction, not Eepublican, but actually to
have controlled the organization for the
benefit of the Eepublican party. Be
lieving in the principles of the Eepub
lican party, having full faith and con
fidence that those principles were cor
rect, that thev are National in their
character and not to be set aside for
temporary cxyediencr, ho maintained
and does maintain that the party would
be stronger by their faithful observance
in Virginia as well as in New York. He
therefore opposed coalition with Eepu
diation as wrong in principle and bound
in the end to work to the detriment of
the party. In this, as in all his public
career, he has been governed by his
conscientious convictions of duty, and
nothing has swerved him from his
course. Brought up in that
school of Eepublicanism which
taught that slavery Was wrong,
and the maintenance of public credit
was right, he contends that Eepubli
cans have no right to surrender either
principle more than the other, that it
would have been jast as excusable to
have temporized with slavery, as to
tamper with public credit in any State
for expediency sake. By his unswerv
ing straightforward course in Virginia,
from 1863 until the present moment,
Mr. Dezendorf has retained the confi
dence of the Republicans of the State,
and commanded the respect of his op
ponents. As a representative he is
painstaking and industrious; no man
Las ever represented the Second District
who has been more faithful in the dis
charge of duty; always in his seat he
seeks every opporttmitv to benefit, his
constituents; as a member of the Naval
Committee he has been mindful of the
interests of the Norfolk Navy Yard.
To him more than to any other is it due
that the bill for the building of a new
navy provides that one-half of the new
ships shall be built in the navy yards,
thus securing the building of at least one
ship for tho Norfolk yard, thus provid
ing work for the mechanics and work
ingmen of his section. In the distribu
tion of the uatronaffe of his District
(that portion of it which he has been
allowed to dispense,) he has been fair
to all classes of his constituents. He
has not forgotten that the colored Ee
publicans constitute the large majority
of the voters in his District, and has
given them a lull share, not only in
number of offices, but in salary. He
has not appointed them on account of
their color, but because of their fitness
and qualification for the office for which
hehas recommended; and in the general
legislation looking to the better protec
tion of this class of citizens he his ever
been found active and efficient. In the
matter of appropriations for public
works in his District, he ha3 been emi -nently
successful, and notwithstanding
the many embarrassments thrown about
him in consequence of the unfortunate
differences in his State, it will be found
that the material interests of his District
have never been better represented.
As a Eepublican who haa always stood
by hia party under oircumstances
which would have deterred men
less determined, Mr. Dezendorf
is entitled to the support of all good
Eepublicans. It is tras that owing to
the fact that he is a good Eepublican
and one who would not sacrifice princi
ple for expediency, he has been de
prived of many of the rights and privi
leges accorded to representatives, but
it has not changed him in his devotion
to the Eepublican party, and we can
only hope that his constituents, those
of them who are actuated by principle
and not from mercenary motives, will
rally to his Bide and rebuke the adminis
ttation which has treated him so unjust
ly, and that he will be returned to tho
48th Congress as a Eepublican by an in
creased majority. In personal appear
ance Mr. Dezendorf is a splendid speci
men of manhood dignified tnd courtly
in his bearing, he at once attracts at
tention. His manners are those of a
polished and refined gentleman, as there
is nothing haughty in his make up; with
him like Burn s,
"The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
A man's a man for a that."
As we have said before, Mr. Dezen
dorf is a gentleman in every sense of
the word; he is a man of uncommon
executive and intellectual ability, in
vincible will, a political record unspot
ted and untainted by coroption of
party, and unwhipped by the lash of
political demagogues and tricksters.
He is a Christian gentleman, and one
who dares to do right because it is
right.