Daniel Henry Chamberlain

Pine Grove Cemetery, West Brookfield, Massachusetts

Biography of Daniel Henry Chamberlain

Citizen – Educator – Soldier – Statesman

Chronology: Born: June 23, 1835, West Brookfield, Massachusetts. Son of Eli F. Chamberlain and Achsah Forbes of Westboro, Massachusetts, one of ten children. Education: Worcester High School, Amherst Academy; Phillips-Andover Academy Graduated: Yale 1858-1862, with Honors and was described by the President of Yale as a born leader of men; Harvard Law School in 1863 Service: Enlisted on 3/15/1864 from Cambridge, MA. 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant, Massachusetts 5th Cavalry, Company A; Mustered out as Captain 1865, at Clarksville, Texas. In 1866, went to South Carolina to settle an estate. He remained and became a cotton planter. In 1868, after serving as a member of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention, Chamberlain was elected Attorney-General. Married: Alice Ingersoll of Washington, D.C. on December 16, 1868. They had six sons: Julian, Paul, Hugh, Philip, Henry, and Waldo Emerson. 1871 to 1873, practiced law at Columbia, South Carolina. In 1874, nominated and elected Governor of South Carolina. In 1875, refused to issue commissions to two judges who had been elected by the legislature. They had been condemned as corrupt by the best men of both parties. For this action the Governor was thanked by prominent citizens of Charleston. In 1876, suppressed the Hamburg Riot in July. In September, nominated again for Governor by the Republican Party. Opposed by Wade Hampton, the democratic nominee. Both would claim the Governorship.

The year,1876, had been marked by several conflicts between whites and blacks . It was reported that ‘rifle-clubs’ had been organized in South Carolina. On October 7, 1876, the Governor issued a proclamation commanding these clubs to disband, stating they had been formed to intimidate the Blacks and influence the up-coming election. The Democratic Executive Committee answered this proclamation by denying the governor’s statements. Governor Chamberlain then applied to President Grant for military aid, and the latter ordered United States troops be sent to South Carolina. After the election, the returning board, disregarding an order of the State Supreme Court, whose authority they denied, declared the Republican ticket elected, throwing out the vote of Edgefield and Laurens Counties for alleged fraud and intimidation. The members from these counties were refused admission to the House, whereupon the democratic members of the legislature withdrew. Organizing by themselves, they declared Wade Hampton, the democratic candidate for governor, elected, as he had received a majority of the votes cast in the two disputed counties. The republican members declared Chamberlain elected, and he refused to give up his office to Hampton, who had been supported by the majority of white people in the state. After the inauguration of President Hayes, both claimants were invited to a conference in Washington. The result was the President withdrew the troops from South Carolina, and Chamberlain issued a proclamation declaring that he would no longer assert his claim. Chamberlain then moved to New York City, where he resumed the practice of law. He was made Non-Resident Professor of Constitutional Law at Cornell University. While in New York, Chamberlain enjoyed great success, but his family fortunes were filled with sadness. Four of his sons died at an early age, and his wife passed away in 1891, at age 46.

The saddened husband and father returned to West Brookfield to purchase the family home on Birch Hill from his brother. Chamberlain oversaw the remodeling of the house during his retirement in the late 1890’s. The town had changed, he saw few familiar faces and once again he was on the move. He traveled to Europe and to Egypt. When he returned to the United States he settled at Charlottesville, Virginia. He died there on April 13, 1907.

Daniel’s father, Eli Chamberlain, an Army Lieutenant in the War of 1812, came to West Brookfield from Westboro, Massachusetts with his wife, Achsah Forbes Chamberlain. The Chamberlains settled on a small farm on the knoll of Birch Hill Road.

Daniel and Alice Chamberlain and their four sons are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.