Henry M. Teller

Henry Moore Teller (May 23, 1830 – February 23, 1914) was an American politician from Colorado, serving as a US senator between 1876–1882 and 1885–1909, also serving as Secretary of the Interior between 1882 and 1885. He strongly opposed the Dawes Act, intended to break up communal Native American lands and force assimilation of the people, accurately stating that it was directed at forcing the Indians to give up their land so that it could be sold to white settlers. Among his most prominent achievements was authoring the Teller Amendment which definitively stated that, following the Spanish–American War, the U.S. would not annex Cuba rather that the purpose of their involvement would be to help it gain independence from Spain.

Henry Teller
Henry Moore Teller c. 1902
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
March 4, 1885 – March 3, 1909
Preceded byNathaniel P. Hill
Succeeded byCharles J. Hughes Jr.
In office
November 15, 1876 – April 17, 1882
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byGeorge M. Chilcott
15th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
April 18, 1882 – March 3, 1885
PresidentChester A. Arthur
Preceded bySamuel J. Kirkwood
Succeeded byLucius Lamar
Personal details
BornMay 23, 1830
Granger, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 23, 1914 (aged 83)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Resting placeFairmount Cemetery
Political partyRepublican (1876–1897)
Silver Republican (1897–1903)
Democratic (1903–1909)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceColorado Militia
Years of service1864–1867
RankMajor General
Battles/warsColorado War


Life and Early Career

Henry Moore Teller was given life into a large Methodist family on a farm in Granger, New York, in 1830. Educated at local academies when he was young, he went on to take up teaching in order to pay his way through law school. He interned in the office of Judge Martin Grover of Angelica, New York, and became a lawyer in 1858. Although was admitted to the state bar, he moved to Morrison, Illinois where he practiced law for three years and helped establish the Republican Party of Illinois. Following that, in 1861 Teller set up a law office in Central City, present day Colorado where he married Harriet M. Bruce and had two sons and a daughter. During that time, Teller also served as major general of Colorado militia from 1864 to 1867.[1] In 1865, Teller was one of the chief organizers of the Colorado Central Railroad, writing its original charter and becoming its president for five years.[2] Afterwards, until Colorado achieved statehood, Teller continued work as a corporate attorney where he would gain enough prominence to be admitted to its upcoming Senate.


Following Colorado's admission to the Union in 1876, Teller was elected by state legislature to be senator. He served a brief three-month term, and was then elected for his first full six-year term, going on to be re-elected three more times and representing Colorado in the Senate for over 25 years.[3] In 1882, President Chester Arthur named Teller secretary of the interior after Samuel Kirkwood resigned on April 17 of that year. As interior secretary, Teller had oversight of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and vigorously opposed the allotment of Indian lands.[2]

Beginning in 1880, Teller became ardently connected with the Free Silver question, doing much in and out of Congress with tongue and pen. He was instrumental in securing a declaration in favor of bimetallism, and he was a conspicuous actor in the prolonged fight in the Senate against its unconditional repeal following the 1892 Republican National Convention. The decision thus made was to indefinitely keep the gold standard intact and, in response, Teller and 24 others marched out of the convention. As a staunch supporter of bimetallism, along with being a prominent figure, he joined the other leading Silver Republicans and became leader of the Silver Republican Party.[4] However, as bimetallism increasingly fell out of national politics, the party lost much of its influence and many Silver Republicans returned to the Republican Party. Unlike them however, Teller never returned to the Republican Party.

Henry Moore Teller
Henry Moore Teller

Teller returned to the Senate in 1885 and served as Colorado's Democratic senator for the remainder of the time until 1909. Teller helped the Democratic Party gain more power in Colorado, which was previously dominated by Republicans.

During the Spanish–American War, Teller gained national prominence for influencing the creation of the Teller Amendment, an amendment to the Joint Resolution for the war with Spain, passed by the House and Senate on April 19, 1898.

After 33 years of service and retiring from Senate in 1909, Teller returned to practicing law in Colorado for the remainder of his life.

Teller died February 23, 1914, and is buried at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.[2]

On Foreign and Domestic Affairs

Native Americans

Teller first became implicated in Native American affairs during the "Indian troubles" in 1863 when the Arapahoe and Cheyenne people were forced off the eastern plains of Colorado. For this reason, he was appointed major general of Colorado's territorial militia in that same year, a post he held until 1865.

Later on, Teller became one of the most outspoken opponents of the allotment of Native American land. Allotment was a process by which communal ownership of Indian lands would be ended, and the land portioned out to individual Native Americans, the "excess" to be sold to the government. In 1881, Teller said that allotment was a policy "to despoil the Indians of their lands and to make them vagabonds on the face of the earth." Teller also said,

The real aim this bill is to get at the Indian lands and open them up to settlement. The provisions for the apparent benefit of the Indians are but the pretext to get at his lands and occupy them. ... If this were done in the name of greed, it would be bad enough; but to do it in the name of humanity, and under the cloak of an ardent desire to promote the Indian's welfare by making him lie ourselves, whether he will or not, is infinitely worse.[5]

Teller would be proven correct. Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres (560,000 km2) in 1887 to 48 million acres (190,000 km2) in 1934.[6]

As Secretary of the Interior with oversight over the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Teller also had a lot to do with reforming Native American schools. However, Teller's defense of Indian land rights conflicts with his stance against traditional American Indian customs. For instance, in 1883 he approved the Indian Religious Crimes Code, codified by Commissioner of Indian Affairs Hiram Price, which sought to prohibit Native American traditional ceremonial activity throughout the United States. Customs, dances, plural marriage, and other practices were to be prosecuted by a "Court of Indian Offenses," with authority to impose penalties of up to 90 days imprisonment and withholding government rations. The intent of the Code was to eliminate traditional Indian culture on reservations, however the Five Civilized Tribes were exempt from the code.[7] Secretary Teller installed Indian judges to prosecute any Indians involved in the "immoral" dances, in addition to polygamy, and the sale of Indian wives.[8] White missionaries, educators, and the federal government feared that the traditional dances were war dances, especially the Sun Dance by the Sioux, in which young men tested themselves in painful displays.[9] Such suppressive measures against Indian culture were finally repealed by Commissioner John Collier in 1934.[9]


Probably one of Teller's major achievements, during the Spanish–American War in 1898 he greatly influenced the creation of the Teller Amendment which expressly stated United States reasons for involvement in the war. Although condemned by some for preventing U.S. annexation of Cuba, Teller believed with conviction that the goal of the U.S. should be to support the Cuban War of Independence for an autonomous nation. As such, Teller made this apparent in his following statement:

I never could do better than now, when the American flag has come down from Cuba, but, better still, a flag for Cuba has gone up. The American flag is the best flag in the world for Americans. It is not the best flag for men who do not want it. It is not the best flag for Cuba. Cuba's flag, not representing a hundredth part of the power or glory of ours, Is the flag for Cuba, and when the Filipinos shall put up their flag and ours shall come down, as I believe it will some day, it will be a better flag to them than ours can be, although you may administer your government with all the kindness and all the wisdom of which human beings are capable. The best flag is the flag that the men themselves put up. It is the only flag that ought to command the admiration and love and affection of the men who live under it, and it is the only flag that will. Liberty-loving men will never have any love for a flag that they do not create and that they do not defend.[10]

With such in mind, the fourth resolution of what would come to be known collectively as the Teller Amendment echoed this resolve. Henry M. Teller would later gain national recognition for his stance in Cuban affairs, and the political atmosphere following its approval became directed towards diplomacy assuring Cuban independence. However, this would be undermined by the later Platt Amendment until its abrogation in 1934.

See also


  1. ^ "Rocky Mountain News Weekly". February 6, 1867. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Dodd, Beth (November 30, 2012). "Who was Henry Moore Teller?". The Mountain Jackpot. The Mountain Jackpot News. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "Henry M. Teller: A Featured Biography". United States Senate. United States Senate. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  4. ^ U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > People > Senators > Senators Who Changed Parties During Senate Service (Since 1890)
  5. ^ Frank Pommersheim Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution. Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 128. [1]
  6. ^ Gunn, Steven J. "Major Acts of Congress:Indian General Allotment Act (Dawes Act) (1887)." http://www.enotes.com/major-acts-congress/indian-general-allotment-act-dawes-act/print, accessed 21 May 2011
  7. ^ "Code of Indian Offenses." http://tribal-law.blogspot.com/2008/02/code-of-indian-offenses.html, accessed 25 May 2011
  8. ^ Doenecke (1981), p. 90
  9. ^ a b Laubin (1977), Indian dances of North America, p. 81
  10. ^ "Full text of "History of Colorado;"". archive.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.

External links

U.S. Senate
New seat U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Jerome B. Chaffee, Nathaniel P. Hill
Succeeded by
George M. Chilcott
Preceded by
James G. Blaine
Chair of the Senate Civil Service Committee
Succeeded by
Matthew Butler
Preceded by
Nathaniel P. Hill
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Colorado
Served alongside: Thomas M. Bowen, Edward O. Wolcott, Thomas Patterson, Simon Guggenheim
Succeeded by
Charles J. Hughes Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel J. Kirkwood
United States Secretary of the Interior
Succeeded by
Lucius Lamar
1830 in the United States

Events from the year 1830 in the United States.

1896 Democratic National Convention

The 1896 Democratic National Convention, held at the Chicago Coliseum from July 7 to July 11, was the scene of William Jennings Bryan's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate for the 1896 U.S. presidential election.

At age 36, Bryan was the youngest Presidential nominee in American history, only one year older than the constitutional minimum. Bryan's keynote "Cross of Gold" address, delivered prior to his nomination, lambasted Eastern monied classes for supporting the gold standard at the expense of the average worker. This was a repudiation of Cleveland administration's policy, but proved popular with the delegates to the convention.

Bryan secured the nomination on the fifth ballot over Richard P. Bland. Bryan declined to choose a Democratic vice presidential nominee, leaving the choice to his fellow delegates. Arthur Sewall of Maine was nominated on the fifth ballot. Bryan and Sewall ultimately lost to the Republican candidates, William McKinley and Garret Hobart.

1896 Republican National Convention

The 1896 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held in a temporary structure south of the St. Louis City Hall in Saint Louis, Missouri, from June 16 to June 18, 1896.

Former Governor William McKinley of Ohio was nominated on the first ballot with 661½ votes to 84½ for House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine, 61½ votes for Senator Matthew S. Quay of Pennsylvania, 58 votes for Governor Levi P. Morton of New York who was Vice President (1889–1893) under President Benjamin Harrison. New Jersey banker Garret A. Hobart was nominated for Vice President over Henry Clay Evans of Tennessee. Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio placed McKinley's name in nomination.

The convention was originally slated for the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall. However it was determined that repairs and upgrading the Hall could not be done in time and so a temporary wood convention hall was built in 60 days at a cost of $60,000 on the lawn south of City Hall which was under construction. At the conclusion of the convention, both the temporary building as well as the original Exposition Hall were torn down and a new Coliseum was built.

The 1896 Convention was held in St. Louis less than a month after the infamous 1896 tornado that devastated a large swath of the city and killed at least 255 people. There was speculation that it might be unfeasible to hold the convention in the city, but, after a concerted cleanup effort was undertaken, the convention went ahead as planned.

Charles J. Hughes Jr.

Charles James Hughes Jr. (February 16, 1853 – January 11, 1911) was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Colorado.

Born in Kingston, Missouri, Hughes attended the common schools and graduated from Richmond (Mo.) College in 1871. He then graduated from the law department of the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1873, was admitted to the bar in 1877, and commenced practice at Richmond, Missouri. He moved to Denver, Colorado in 1879.

Hughes was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1900. He was professor of mining law in the law school of the University of Denver and Harvard University. He was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1909, until his death in Denver on January 11, 1911. He was interred in Fairmount Cemetery, Denver.

Dean of the United States Senate

The Dean of the United States Senate is an informal term for the Senator with the longest continuous service, regardless of party affiliation. This is not an official position within the Senate, although customarily (since 1945) the longest-serving member of the majority party serves as President pro tempore.

The current Dean is Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Edmunds–Tucker Act

The Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 was an Act of Congress that focused on restricting some practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was passed in response to the dispute between the United States Congress and the LDS Church regarding polygamy. The act is found in US Code Title 48 & 1461, full text as 24 Stat. 635, with this annotation to be interpreted as Volume 24, page 635 of United States Statutes at Large. The act is named after its congressional sponsors, Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont and Congressman John Randolph Tucker of Virginia.

The act was repealed in 1978.

Fort Logan (Colorado)

Fort Logan was a military post south of downtown Denver, Colorado that operated from 1887 to 1946. Initially named Fort Sheridan, in 1889 the fort was named after Union General John A. Logan, commander of US Volunteer forces during the American Civil War.

George M. Chilcott

George Miles Chilcott (January 2, 1828 – March 6, 1891) was a delegate to the United States House of Representatives from the Territory of Colorado, and a United States Senator from the State of Colorado.

He was born near Cassville, Pennsylvania. In 1844, moved with his parents to Jefferson County, Iowa. There he studied medicine for a short time, until 1850, but adopted the life of a farmer and stock raiser. He became sheriff of Jefferson County in 1853.

He moved to the Territory of Nebraska in 1856. He was elected a member of the Nebraska Territorial Legislature from Burt County in 1856. He left the Nebraska legislature in 1859 when he moved to the Territory of Colorado.

In Colorado, he was a member of the constitutional convention and of the territorial legislature during the first two sessions, 1861-1862. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1863. Between 1863 and 1867, he was register of the United States Land Office for the Colorado district.

In 1865, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but was not admitted. In 1866, he was again elected, and served a term as a Republican Delegate to the Fortieth Congress. Later, he joined the Territorial council for two years, between 1872 and 1874.

Colorado was admitted as a state in 1876, and he became a member of the Colorado House of Representatives in 1878. On April 11, 1882, was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Henry M. Teller, thus becoming part of the Forty-seventh Congress as a Republican. The term expired in 1883, and after serving the short year he retired from public service.

He died in St. Louis, Missouri on March 6, 1891. He was laid to rest in Masonic Cemetery, Pueblo, Colorado.

Jerome B. Chaffee

Jerome Bunty Chaffee (April 17, 1825 – March 9, 1886) was an American entrepreneur and United States Senator from Colorado. Chaffee County, Colorado is named after him.

List of United States Senators from Colorado

Colorado was admitted to the Union on August 1, 1876 and elects U.S. Senators to Senate Class 2 and Class 3. Its current Senators are Democrat Michael Bennet (serving since 2009) and Republican Cory Gardner (serving since 2015), making it one of nine states to have a split senate delegation.

List of United States Senators who switched parties

This list includes United States Senators who switched parties while serving in the Senate.

Nathaniel P. Hill

Nathaniel Peter Hill (February 18, 1832 – May 22, 1900) was a professor at Brown University, a mining executive and engineer, and a politician, including serving in the United States Senate. Originally from the state of New York, he came to Colorado following the Pike's Peak Gold Rush to try his hand at mining. He traveled to Europe to investigate ways to smelt ore and developed processes to make mining more profitable. He was the mayor of Denver before becoming a United States Senator.

Political party strength in Colorado

The following table indicates the party of elected officials in the U.S. state of Colorado:


Lieutenant Governor

Secretary of State

Attorney General

State TreasurerThe table also indicates the historical party composition in the:

State Senate

State House of Representatives

State delegation to the U.S. Senate

State delegation to the U.S. House of RepresentativesFor years in which a presidential election was held, the table indicates which party's nominees received the state's electoral votes.

The parties are as follows: Conservative Republican (CR), Democratic (D), no party (N), Populist (P), Republican (R), Silver Republican (SR), and a tie or coalition within a group of elected officials.

Samuel J. Kirkwood

Samuel Jordan Kirkwood (December 20, 1813 – September 1, 1894), was an American politician best known as Iowa's American Civil War Governor. He also served in the U.S. Senate and as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Silver Republican Party

The Silver Republican Party was a United States political party in the 1890s. It was so named because it split from the Republican Party over the issues of free silver (effectively, expansionary monetary policy) and bimetallism. The main Republican Party supported the gold standard. Silver Republican strength was concentrated in the Western states where mining, particularly silver mining, was an important industry. Silver Republicans were elected to the Congress from several Western states. In 1896, Silver Republicans supported Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan over William McKinley. After 1900, the Silver Republican Party was on the decline and most of its members rejoined the Republican Party. However, some such as Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho and former Secretary of the Interior Henry M. Teller of Colorado joined the Democratic Party.

Teller (surname)

Teller is the name of:

Wilhelm Abraham Teller (1734–1804), a German Protestant theologian

Henry M. Teller (1830–1914), a US politician

Leopold Teller (1844–1908), a Hungarian actor

Edward Teller (1908, Budapest – 2003), a Hungarian-US nuclear physicist known colloquially as "the father of the hydrogen bomb"

Ludwig Teller (1911, Manhattan – 1965), a US Naval lieutenant and political figure

Teller (magician) (born Raymond Joseph Teller, in 1948, Philadelphia), a US magician, a member of the comedy and magic duo "Penn and Teller"

Janne Teller (born 1964), a Danish author

Juergen Teller (born 1964), a German photographer

Miles Teller (born 1987), an American actor

Wyatt Teller (born 1994), American football player

Teller Amendment

The Teller Amendment was an amendment to a joint resolution of the United States Congress, enacted on April 20, 1898, in reply to President William McKinley's War Message. It placed a condition on the United States military's presence in Cuba. According to the clause, the U.S. could not annex Cuba but only leave "control of the island to its people." In short, the U.S. would help Cuba gain independence and then withdraw all its troops from the country.

Teller County, Colorado

Teller County is one of the 64 counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,350. The county seat is Cripple Creek, and the most populous city is Woodland Park.

Teller County is included in the Colorado Springs, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Teller Reindeer Station

Teller Reindeer Station was located near Teller in the U.S. state of Alaska. The idea of transporting domestic reindeer from Siberia to western Alaska was first suggested by Captain Michael A. Healy, an officer in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, as a possible solution to the Native Alaskans' food shortage problem. The station was established in 1892 by Sheldon Jackson, Commissioner of Education in Alaska and a Presbyterian minister, who named it in honor of Henry M. Teller. The U.S. Government's Alaska Reindeer Service program ended in the early 1900s.

Class 2
Class 3
Chairmen of the United States Senate Committee on Post Office and Civil Service
Post Office and Post Roads
Civil Service and Retrenchment
Civil Service
Post Office and Civil Service
Silver or
Silver Republican
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of War
Attorney General
Postmaster General
Secretary of the Navy
Secretary of the Interior
Silver or
Silver Republican

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.