George Z. Erwin

George Zalmon Erwin
Born (1840-01-15)January 15, 1840
Madrid, New York
Died January 16, 1894(1894-01-16) (aged 54)
Potsdam, New York
Education Middlebury College (1865)

George Zalmon Erwin (January 15, 1840 – January 16, 1894) was an American politician.


He was born on January 15, 1840 in Madrid, St. Lawrence County, New York.

He was educated at Saint Lawrence Academy at Potsdam, New York. He graduated from Middlebury College in August, 1865. He studied law with the then United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York William A. Dart and Charles O. Tappan, and was admitted to the bar in 1867. He commenced practice in Potsdam, N.Y., and entered into partnership with Samuel B. Gordon in 1868. The same year he married Dart's daughter Caroline (b. 1842), but they had no children. A year later, he succeeded his father-in-law as partner in the law firm of Dart & Tappan, and practiced for ten years under the firm name of Tappan & Erwin. In 1878, Tappan was elected to the New York Supreme Court, and William A. Dart returned to Potsdam, N.Y., and resumed practice in partnership with Erwin under the name of Dart & Erwin.

Erwin was a member of the New York State Assembly (St. Lawrence Co., 3rd D.) in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886 and 1887. In 1884, allied with Thomas C. Platt, he was a strong candidate for Speaker, but was defeated by Titus Sheard, the candidate of the Warner Miller faction. The following year, the Platt faction was victorious, and Erwin was elected Speaker.

He was a member of the New York State Senate (20th D.) from 1888 to 1893, sitting in the 111th, 112th, 113th, 114th, 115th and 116th New York State Legislature. In 1892-93 he was the Republican minority leader of the State Senate. To him is due the credit of organizing the dairy department for suppressing the sale and manufacture of oleomargarine. He secured the enactment of the bill preventing the sale of liquor in quantities of five gallons or more in towns having no license. In 1891, he was Chairman of the Committee on General Laws and made interesting investigations into the subject of electricity for lighting and power.

In the session of 1892, when Republican leader, he made a strong but unsuccessful fight against the re-apportionment of the state, and for his refusal to vote on an enumeration bill he and two other senators were declared guilty of contempt by Lt. Gov. William F. Sheehan and their names taken from the roll. But they were supported by the judiciary committee in their position, were purged of contempt and their names restored.

He was interested in various local industries. He was one of the proprietors and organizers of the Thatcher Manufacturing Company, and up to the time of his death was its vice-president. He helped to organize the High Falls Sulphite Pulp and Mining Co., and was its president.

He died on January 16, 1894 in Potsdam, New York at age 54.[1]

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New York Assembly
Preceded by
Ebenezer S. Crapser
New York State Assembly
St. Lawrence County, 3rd District

Succeeded by
Michael H. Flaherty
Political offices
Preceded by
Titus Sheard
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
James W. Husted
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Charles L. Knapp
New York State Senate
20th District

Succeeded by
Harvey J. Donaldson
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