William Collins

William Collins

Whitney, William Collins, 1841-1904, American financier and political leader, b. Conway, Mass. After attending (1863-64) Harvard law school, he moved to New York City, became successful as a corporation lawyer, and was associated with various public utility companies and transportation interests. He helped lead the fight that brought about the downfall of William Marcy Tweed and the election (1874) of Samuel J. Tilden as governor. As city corporation counsel (1875-82) he helped save New York City much money. Whitney, important in Democratic politics, served (1885-89) as Secretary of the Navy under President Cleveland and secured legislation for the making of armor-plated war vessels. In 1892 he supported Cleveland for the presidency, but in 1896 he refused to support the candidacy of William Jennings Bryan. He was a society leader and an outstanding sportsman.

See biography by M. D. Hirsch (1948, repr. 1969).

Collins, William, 1721-59, English poet. He was one of the great lyricists of the 18th cent. While he was still at Oxford he published Persian Ecologues (1742), which was written when he was 17. Unstable and weak-willed, he never chose a profession and was constantly in debt until he inherited money from an uncle. He won no popularity during his lifetime, and his career was curtailed by insanity. A precursor of the 19th-century romantics, Collins wrote exquisite verse that emphasized mood and imagination. Among his best odes are "To Evening," "To Simplicity," and the one beginning "How sleep the brave."

See biographies by P. L. Carver (1967) and H. W. Garrod (1928, repr. 1973); study by O. Doughty (1964).

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