Oswego County's: Guide To Government

James Platt

Our Legislators find various ways of distinguishing themselves. Some are remarkable for their much speaking, others for their silence; some are eminent as axe-grinders and log rollers, others are known to manage the wires. Another, again, gives all his attention and efforts to secure the success of a particular measure, of a public or private character, and hopes to go down to posterity as a distinguished advocate of the Maine Law, or to be honored by his neighbors and constituents as the author of the Charter of the Village of Little Pedlington.

Some take under their special charge the Rules of the House, and are always raising points of order, and some are watchful against any infringements of the Constitution, or jealous guardians of the liberties of the people. There are a few who are distinguished for their good sense, and for the faithful and able performance of all their duties as legislators. We believe we speak the sentiments of all his constituents when we rank Senator Platt among the first in this class. We regret, and we have no doubt a large share of his constituents regret that the pitiful and unrepublican principle of rotation in office, as applied to localities as well to individuals is likely to deprive us of the continuance of his valuable services in the Senate. There are other able and faithful men. We may get one of them in his place, but we are far more likely one less able and less faithful. Mr. Platt has always been expeditious and successful, aiding the co-operation of Mr. Littlejohn, in carrying into effect the wishes of his constituents in regard to local affairs. We got our Commissioners of Excise, our new School Law, etc, as soon as we asked for them.

He was, in the Senate, by far the most able and efficient advocate of the Niagara Ship Canal Bill, overthrowing the objections urged against it by the irrefragable argument of facts, and convincing his fellow members of the importance and utility of the enterprise. His statistical exhibits, only obtainable by a good deal of research, of the course, relations and prospects of Western trade, were just what was needed to carry the bill. Equally judicious and persevering has been his course on the subject of the Canal Enlargement. Though favorable to a more expeditious method of securing that object, he had too much practical sense to refuse the only plan, however imperfect it might be, that a majority could be brought to accept.

There was a short passage in Mr. Platt's Senatorial career to which we wish to draw particular attention. Our readers will remember that the project of sending the Maine Law to the people was a good deal agitated. Mr. Platt is a straight - forward, blunt, fearless man, always ready to give a direct, open vote on any question. To evade the Maine Law question, to shirk the responsibility, to skulk and tergiversate, was a proceeding as foreign to his character and repulsive to his feelings as it would have been discreditable to the legislature. Beside that, a similar set, in regard to the School Law, had been declared by a superior court to be unconstitutional, and to repeat the thing would be to practice a bare deceit and a subterfuge upon the people. Such a course, however convenient for a certain class of politicians, making them to appear with one face to the friends and another to the opposers of the Maine Law, suited neither the taste nor the honorable principles of Mr. Platt. In a sarcastic speech, he exposed the juggling and unworthy character of the proposition, and shamed and frightened demagogues from their purpose.

The Daily Times, Oswego August 30th 1853

Death of the Hon. James Platt - Today we have to announce another eminent citizen and good man garnered to the dead. James Platt is no more. With the announcement , the excellent qualities that distinguished him as a man, a citizen, and an associate start up and pass in sudden review before us, and the stern lesson of mortality comes home anew with startling impressiveness.

For some three or four months Mr. Platt has been confined to his house, not by wasting or agonizing disease, but by a general failure of the functions of life to perform their allotted duties - a sapping and undermining of his once vigorous constitution - and thus he has been gradually nearing "that bourne from which no traveler returns." Those who loved and honored him have known that the end was sloly but surely approaching, yet the final hour has scarcely been robbed of its sharpness through the forewarning, and there is lamentation in the houses of his friends.

Mr. Platt has failed quite rapidly for a few weeks, and yesterday morning he passed quietly away. There are hands more able than ours to pen his obituary, but the following brief sketch is due to the public:

James Platt was the youngest son of Zephaniah Platt, one of the patriots of the Revolution, and was born in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Co., N. Y. January 2, 1788. When he was nine years of age his father removed his family to Plattsburgh, which took its name from him, and where he resided till his death in 1807. Soon after that event James Platt removed from Plattsburg to live in Whitestown with his brother, who was one of the most eminent members of the bar of New York State at that time. For two years he read law in his brother's office, but not desiring to follow that profession, he entered mercantile life in Utica in connection with B.B. Lansing. In 1813 he married Miss Eliza Floyd, youngest daughter of Gen. William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, with whom he has lived till her death, eight years after. In 1823 Mr. Platt went into the forwarding and commission business, and one year later admitted as partner in his business Mr. Harmon Pease, who survives him, and now resides in Rome, N. Y. They did business in Utica under the firm name of Platt & Peace til 1834, when they removed to Albany, and continued together there till 1836. In the year 1831 Mr. Platt again married, the lady being the daughter of Gen. Melancethon Lloyd Woolsey. She died in Oswego in 1852. In 1836, at the request of Mr. Abram Varick, who, we believe was a relative, Mr. Platt dissolved his partnership with Mr. Pease, and came to Oswego to take charge of Mr. Varick's extensive real estate interests here. He occupied for some time as a residence the location at present owned by E. P. Penfield, and soon commenced business as a forwarder and commission merchant, and: in 1844 began the erection of the first elevator built in Oswego, which was long known as the "Platt Elevator." It was situated near the East cove, and occupied the site of the Randall Elevator destroyed by fire a few years ago.

In 1848, when Oswego became a City, Mr. Platt was elected the first Mayor, running against Hon. Alvin Bronson, who still bears his octogenarian honors bravely among us. In the winter of 1851-2 Mr. Platt represented this District in the State Senate at Albany. His career as a legislator was marked by the same integrity, unswerving devotion to principle, and deadly opposition to chicanery that characterized him in social and business life. He served his term with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituency. In May, 1857, he was chosen President of the Northwestern Insurance Company, holding that office till May, 1860, when he handed in his resignation. Mr. Platt was one of the most active movers in the Incorporation of the Lake Ontario Bank, in 1857, and was chosen its first president, which office he held till his death. He was always alert to the interests of the corporation, and was always found in his place unless called away by sickness.

In 1855, Mr. Platt married Mrs. Sarah Lansing, widow of B. B. Lansing, his former partner, who survives him to mourn the loss of a faithful husband and protector.

Our deceased fellow citizen, though he had reached the ripe age of 83, until his recent confinement was a man of remarkable physical activity and mental vigor, and his counsel was always sought and valued in matters affecting the public interests of the City. He was wise and safe as a counselor, benignant as a friend, humorous and entertaining as an associate, upright and exemplary as a man, and in every relation was one of whom it may be said: "Take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again."

The funeral services will take place from the residence, No. 70 West Third Street tomorrow.

Resolutions of the City Library Trustees, called out by Mr. Platt's death, are printed elsewhere in this paper. A series has also been adopted by the Board of Trade, which, with those of other bodies, will hereafter be printed.

Oswego Daily Press

Monday Evening May 9th 1879