CHARLES F. TABOR
CHARLES F. Tabor, the present attorney-general of the state of New York, whose official residence is now in Albany, was born on the 28th of June, 1841, in the town of Newstead, Erie County, N. Y. His father, Silas Tabor, was a lawyer, and also attended to the cultivation of his farm in that pleasant township, and there, after spending many years both in mental and manual exercise, he closed an honorable and useful career in 1863, in the midst of the stirring and eventful scenes of our great civil war. He was a man of great probity and many other noble characteristics and left the legacy of a good name to his children. His wife, Betsy E. Tabor, was a woman of high character and amiability of disposition, whose presence enlivened and cheered the whole household. She died in 1881.
Charles F., the subject of this sketch, worked on his father’s farm until he was about seventeen years of age, also attending, when he could, the common school of the neighborhood. After he had obtained a fair education in the elementary branches he taught a district school in the winters, and prepared himself for college at Lima, Clarence and Williamsville academies. He was naturally fond of books and delighted in study, but for want of sufficient pecuniary means he was obliged to give up his college ambition. This was a hard blow to the young man, who was, in the more proper sense of the term, to become a self-made man without the aid of the highest institutions of learning. But he well utilized the knowledge which he had gained in the academy, and read with eagerness all the books which he could come across at home, especially those pertaining to the law, a profession for which he was fully determined to qualify himself and which he loved from his youth up. In the spring of 1861, inspired with the pleasing thought of being one day enrolled as a member of so noble a profession, he began the study of the law in the office of Humphrey & Parsons, of Buffalo, N. Y., and so carefully had he improved his opportunities – notwithstanding the fact that he found it necessary to teach school in the winters to defray his current expenses – that he was admitted to the bar in the fall of 1863 by the general term of the supreme court.
In 1865, at the close of the civil war, Mr. Tabor opened a law office in Buffalo, where he continued to practice with success and a constantly increasing reputation until he was called to assume his duties first as a deputy, and afterward as the attorney-general of the empire state.
In 1867-9 Mr. Tabor was an excise commissioner of Erie county, and for two years held the office of supervisor of the town of Lancaster, Erie county.
For his sincere, whole-souled devotion to the cause of the democratic party – in which he imitated the example of his father- the democrats of the fourth district of Erie county – a republican district – looked upon him as a strong and most available candidate for member of the assembly, and accordingly nominated him in 1875. He was triumphantly elected over Charles A. Clark, many republicans giving him complimentary votes in recognition of his sterling qualities and remembering his early difficulties in climbing the hill of science. He was re-elected in the autumn of 1876. In the legislature he showed no little tact and ability as a ready and forcible debater, and always stood up boldly for the leading measures of his political party. He was a member of the committees on education and cities, and on the whole, acquitted himself with credit and with the approval of his constituents.
After the close of his legislative career, Mr. Tabor carried on an extensive law practice at Buffalo for about eight years, when the more public duties of the state claimed his services. In 1883 he was the democratic candidate for county judge of Erie County, and was defeated by only seventy-eight votes, in a county which gave Garfield 3,800 majority. It was indeed a flattering vote for the young and rising lawyer, and showed the high esteem in which he was held by many outside his own party. In the summer of 1885 he accepted the appointment of first deputy under Attorney-General Denis O’Brien, and for two years performed a large part of the onerous duties in that department, having had ” charge of the public interests before the board of claims, and the conduct of the cases brought against state officers.”
In the fall of 1887 he was nominated by the Democratic Party, in the convention which met at Saratoga, to succeed Mr. O’Brien. After an earnest and thorough campaign on both sides, he was elected by a plurality of 14,361, carrying his native county of Erie by a majority of 300, while the head of the republican ticket received 2,100 majority in the same county.
With a popularity thus strongly evinced and with perfect familiarity with the work he was to undertake, he entered upon his new office as attorney-general on the 1st of January, 1888, and is always endeavoring to serve the best interests of the state as a faithful public servant, with equal justice to all concerned, without partisan considerations. Mr. Tabor was re-elected for two years in 1889 by 9,711 majority.
Mr. Tabor has long enjoyed the reputation of being a well-read lawyer, and his legal opinions are formed after deep research and careful study of the correct principles of legal science. From his early youth his life has been a studious one, and by his own efforts and untiring perseverance he has gradually risen from a hard working farmer’s boy to occupy a high and honorable position, in which he has already reflected much credit on himself and honor on the state.
Plain in his manners, easily approachable, modest in his demeanor, sincere in his friendship, and always diligent in his business he is one of the many self-made men with whom our country abounds, and for whose welfare she is always willing to extend a helping hand.