Biography of Norton Chase


AMONG the rising young men of Albany who have reflected no little credit upon their native city by their earnest efforts for the advancement of worthy causes, is the Hon. Norton Chase. Born in this city on the 3d of September, 1861, he is a son of Nelson H. Chase, a useful and respected citizen of Albany. From his earliest youth he was inclined to study, and when a mere child he became a pupil in the Albany academy, where he devoted himself with great ardor to study, and made rapid progress in ascending the hill of science. Seldom, indeed, has that excellent institution been favored with a more diligent and successful student. His schoolboy days were those of pleasantness and of increasing attractions for intellectual culture. Learning was no drudgery to him; and with an ease and quickness unusual in most students of his years, he was fully prepared when the hours of recitation came; consequently he always stood among the best scholars in his classes, and when he graduated in 1878, he went forth from the academy with the highest honors, having taken five gold medals. In the same year he entered Yale College and carried on his studies there with a view principally to selecting the law as a profession, towards which his natural taste led him. On leaving Yale College he returned home and entered the Albany law school. From this excellent and flourishing institution he graduated in 1882 with the degree of LL.B., and was admitted to the bar.

In the opening of his legal career Mr. Chase was most fortunate in forming business relations with the late Judge Samuel Hand, one of the most eminent and accomplished jurists that ever graced the Albany bar. In his office he began the practice of law, and continued it with growing satisfaction and success, acquiring a high standing at the bar. Soon’ after the death of Judge Hand in 1886, Mr. Chase formed a co-partnership with Mr. Frank B. Delehanty under the firm name of Chase & Delehanty. This energetic, popular firm still continues, succeeding to much of the practice of Judge Hand, and having worked up a large and lucrative clientage.

Their practice has been of a nature unusual for so young a firm, and has been uniformly successful. Mr. Chase early appeared before the court of appeals and has argued important causes there, as well as at the general term of the Supreme Court, while in the surrogate’s court the firm has had charge of the important contests arising in the wills of the late Robert Higgins, Weare C. Little and John L. Oliver. In recent days its successful litigation with the Lamson Consolidated Store Service Company, involving over twenty different cases, two of which involved $ 1, 000,000 each, has brought much credit to this active firm.

As a politician, Mr. Chase was early and thoroughly trained in the Jeffersonian school of democracy, and like Judge Hand, his able adviser and much-beloved friend, he has always been strongly attached to the principles of his party, following them with unswerving fidelity and advocating them with marked ability on many occasions. He is, in every respect, a thorough democrat, without hypocrisy and without guile.

In 1885 Mr. Chase was nominated as a democratic member of assembly in the third district, and after a stirring canvass he was elected by a majority of 1,978 ever his opponent Harmon Pumpelly Read – an increase of 800 over the usual democratic majority, and carrying every election district in the assembly district, a victory never achieved before. This was certainly a splendid triumph for a young man just entering the field of political warfare. His legislative record in the assembly of 1886 was creditable and consistent, marked with steady adherence to democratic principles, to the interests of his constituents, and to the welfare of the city of Albany and its workingmen. He served as a member of the committee on judiciary, military, affairs, two-thirds and three-fifths bills and the assembly committee of the whole.

In the House his voice was soon heard and his influence felt. He performed admirable work and attracted much attention for the zeal and earnestness which he infused into all his actions. No better friend of the people and the people’s interests ever sat in a legislature. His course at the close of the session received the deserved approval even of those politically opposed to him.

A ready debater, a pleasing speaker, happy in his choice of language, and well versed in the science of politics as well as of law, his talents were soon recognized and appreciated in the legislature and he became an influential, studious and hard-working member. He took part in the principal debates on leading questions before the house, and showed himself to be a true and reliable friend and a staunch advocate of the interests of organized labor. Mr. Chase has since given his support and counsel to the party which has now honored him and honored itself. He has been a delegate to many of its conventions and has nominated many successful candidates for office, and in the last democratic state convention placed in nomination Mayor Maher of this city, in a speech which was greatly applauded. Mr. Chase has also spoken for his party in all the campaigns of recent years, and in the presidential election of 1888, was one of the orators on board the Thomas Jefferson, which made the celebrated trip down the canal from Buffalo to Albany. In the fall of 1887 Mr. Chase was nominated for senator in the seventeenth senatorial district, and the contest between him and his republican opponent, Henry Russell, was one of the most memorable in senatorial annals. After a bitter fight in the courts, Mr. Russell was declared to have been elected by a plurality of 8, and thus the political storm was temporarily abated.

Two years later, at the democratic county convention, which met at the city hall, October 18, 1889, he was re-nominated by acclamation as his party’s candidate, and the voters of the district expressed their opinion of the legal decision of two years ago by electing him by a majority of 3,151 over his republican opponent, Major George H. Treadwell.

In the present senate, of which he is the youngest member, he was made a member of the committees on insurance, general laws, public buildings, world’s fair and poor laws.

He at once took a leading part in senatorial debate, speaking often, earnestly, and forcibly on all important measures and gaining a high reputation as a model legislator. Among the bills which he introduced and which have become laws are the following: To appropriate $365,000 for continuing work on the capitol; the general registration act; to amend the act incorporating religious and charitable societies; in relation to Baptist and Congregational churches; to provide for the purchase of the Rensselaerwyck rifle-range; to authorize Cohoes to improve her water-works; defining the titles of the commissioners of Washington park: relative to the government of public parks in Albany; amending the Hawk street viaduct act in relation to assessments; to amend the act incorporating Cohoes; allowing Christian associations to be free from taxation of property used for their specific purposes; incorporating the New York and New England Agricultural and Industrial Society.

Mr. Chase is a member of many clubs and societies and is a trustee of the Albany Exchange Savings bank. He has also manifested great interest in military matters. In 1881 he was commissioned first lieutenant and appointed adjutant of the Tenth battalion, and in 1886, was elected major of the same organization, which position he still holds.

Mr. Chase on June 22, 1887, married Mabel Louise, daughter of Henry L. James, Esq., of Williamsburgh, Mass.

Senator Chase possesses a genial, sunny disposition, and enjoys the confidence and esteem of hosts of friends for his excellent social qualities, his strict integrity and many other traits which enter into the formation of a true manhood. As years pass, such men are bound to rise higher and higher in public estimation, and to receive well-merited honors at the hands of their fellow-citizens.


Noted living Albanians and state officials , A series of biographical sketches. 1891.

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