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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
HON. WILLIAM E. FULLER
(Photo in source book)
An honored and prominent citizen of West Union, Iowa, is William E. Fuller, the only son of D. Levi and Jemima E. (Tipton) Fuller, born in Howard, Center county, Pennsylvania, March 30, 1846. After a residence of about six years in Stephenson county, Illinois, and one year in Green county, Wisconsin, the family came to West Union, Iowa, in April, 1853. Through his father he is a lineal descendant (tenth) from Edward Fuller and Governor William Bradford, who settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.
Mr. Fuller received his literary education in the Upper Iowa University and State University of Iowa. He held a position in the interior department, Washington, D. C., in 1866-7. In the fall of 1869, after preliminary reading, he entered the law department of the State University, where he graduated with honors, as the valedictorian, in June, 1870. He immediately commenced the practice of his profession in West Union, continuing it with success, when not in official position, until June 1, 1907. Since this date his practice has been largely as a counselor and he has given much of his time to general business. During his active manhood Mr. Fuller has spent about sixteen years in official service. He has been chairman of the Republican county committee and a member of the district and state committees. In 1875 he was elected to the sixteenth General Assembly. He declined a re-nomination. He was elected in 1884 to the forty-ninth Congress, in a district which had been carried by the Democrats at a previous election by more than seven hundred majority. The district was regarded as a forlorn hope from the Republican standpoint, but energy and organization, which included fifty speeches by Mr. Fuller, overcame the odds and L. H. Weller, Democrat, was defeated.
Mr. Fuller was a industrious and influential member of Congress, being a member of the committee on coinage, weights and measures and revision of the laws, taking an active part in the consideration of the silver question. He was re-elected to Congress in 1886 by one thousand nine hundred and thirty-one majority and served on the judiciary committee. He favored free lumber and free sugar in the tariff discussion and made speeches on the Fitz John Porter. silver, lumber, sugar, interstate commerce, pension bills, and the Nicaragua canal bill. Mr. Fuller remained in Washington during the long session of the fiftieth Congress, the longest in the history of the country, and declined to return to Iowa and canvass for a third term. He has been in constant demand as a speaker and is often called upon to deliver Fourth of July addresses and to speak on Memorial days. county fairs and soldiersí reunions.
After his return from Congress he devoted himself to his professional duties, but has often given his services to his party (Republican) on the stump. In 1897 Mr. Fullerís home friends presented his name to the Republican state convention as a candidate for governor. There were nine candidates and the contest was a spirited one. Mr. Fullerís candidacy was well received and he had the solid support of his congressional district besides material strength from different parts of the state. After a good natured contest, lasting several days, Hon. L. M. Shaw was nominated. President William McKinley, with whom Mr. Fuller had served four years in Congress, on March 9, 1901, nominated William E. Fuller assistant attorney-general of the United States for the Spanish treaty claims commission, and he was confirmed the same day by the Senate and immediately entered upon his duties.
The Spanish treaty claims commission (the president of which was ex-senator William Chandler of New Hampshire) was one of the results of the treaty of Paris, following the Spanish-American war. In Article VII it was provided that "the United States will adjudicate and settle the claims of its citizens against Spain." This was a new field for Mr. Fuller. He was obliged to immediately acquaint himself with international law involved in the case. A bureau had to be formed, assistant attorneys employed for the home office and to send to Cuba to take testimony, also clerks, interpreters, stenographers, etc. Mr. Fuller looked upon the cases with suspicion. In more than three-fourths of the cases the plaintiffs were originally Cubans, who had come to the United States to attend school or other purposes and while here were naturalized. They returned to Cuba, married, reared their children and never owned a dollarís worth of property in the United States or paid taxes. He also believed that there was such a condition of war in Cuba that there was no liability, under international law, on the part of Spain for damages growing out of military operations. There were many other interesting questions involved. Mr. Fuller believing that in a majority of the cases the plaintiffs were not bona fide citizens and believing that most of the damages incurred were not the result of military operations, conceded nothing and fought the cases with great determination. He was repeatedly told by attorneys for plaintiffs that he was making an uncalled-for fight for the government. There were five hundred forty-two cases filed before the court, the claims amounting to sixty-two million six hundred and seventy-two thousand seventy-seven dollars and seventy-eight cents; many of them over one million each and in one there was over four millions involved. Testimony had to be taken in United States, Cuba and Spain, and most of it taken in the Spanish language and translated into English. The work continued much longer than Mr. Fuller anticipated when he entered the service. When he resigned, June 1, 1907, over two-thirds of the cases had been determined and judgments allowed considerably less than three per cent of the amount involved. Mr. Fuller was very anxious to continue the work to the end, but delays occurred beyond his control. His private business had been neglected and after serving form March 9, 1901, to June 1, 1907, he resigned and returned to West Union, and has since given his attention to his private affairs and general business.
William E. Fuller was married in Kossuth, Des Moines county, Iowa, January 1, 1868, to Lou J. Harper, the only child of William and Harriet (Heizer) Harper. She was a native of Des Moines county and was educated at the State University. Her parents were among the early settlers of Des Moines county, where her father had been a prominent citizen since 1842 and was a member of the Iowa Legislature in 1850 and again in 1870. He was the founder of the State Bank of Mediapolis and its president for over twenty years. He was an elder of the Presbyterian church for over fifty years. He died in his ninetieth year, December 31, 1908. Mr. and Mrs. Fuller had a family of nine children, of whom seven are now living, four sons and three daughters, namely: Levi Harper, who was born December 10, 1868, is a practicing lawyer in Chicago; he married Bessie Brown, September 5, 1893, and they have two daughters, Dorothy and Elizabeth. Harriet May, born May 23, 1871, married C. W. Holbrook, July 24, 1895, now a lawyer in Okmulgee, Oklahoma; they have two sons, William Fuller and Carleton Joseph. Stella E., who was born February 2, 1875, married Rev. M. P. McClure, September 1, 1897, now pastor of the First Presbyterian church, Council Bluffs, Iowa; they have two children Donald Fuller and Kathryn. Clara Augusta, born March 9, 1877, married Roy D. Carpenter, October 20, 1909, cashier of the Okmulgee State Bank, Oklahoma. William W., born January 28, 1880, married Edith Iva Smith, August 10, 1904; they have two children, Louise Adams and Margaret; he is district agent for the Northwestern Life Insurance Company and resides at Mandan, North Dakota. Howard Tipton, born September 13, 1884, is cashier of the Peoples Bank, Mason City, Iowa; married Edith Evelyn Padden, April 3, 1907, and they have a daughter, Marion. Robert Edward, born December 6, 1888. Mrs. William E. Fuller died, after a lingering illness, November 2, 1901. She was a woman of intense devotion to her children. She was possessed of rare judgment, keen intellect and a cultivated mind. Her home was always open to her friends.
The entire community was deeply grieved when she passed from this life. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Fuller married a second time, his last wedding occurring December 10, 1903, in New City, to Mrs. Clara McLean (Heath) Manning, who was born in New York City December 8, 1853, and who also traces her ancestral line back to Edward Fuller. She and her husband had a common ancestor, Samuel Fuller, about three hundred years ago. They reside in the old homestead originally erected by Doctor Levi Fuller in 1872 at West Union and remodeled by them in 1907. Mr. Fuller has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since he was sixteen years of age. Mrs. Fuller is a member of the Episcopal church.
Mr. Fuller for many years was on the board of education in West Union; and was also a member of the board of trustees of Upper Iowa University. He is vice-president of the Fayette County National Bank. Sufficient has been said to indicate Mr. Fullerís high character and eminent success in those lines of endeavor to which he has devoted his energies.
With a mind enriched by years of close study and profound research, he has been eminently qualified for lifeís duties in every respect, being a vigorous and independent thinker and having the courage of his convictions on all matters and issues on which men and parties divide, a man of noble aims and high ideals, a progressive citizen with the welfare of his county at heart, and a splendid type of the broad minded, virile Americanism, which gives moral bone and sinew to the body politic and makes our country and its institutions honored among the nations of the earth. The biography of such a man as he may well serve for an example and inspiration to the youth who seriously meditate life, yet hesitate to lay the foundation for the stern realities of life which await them.
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