HOWARD N. FULLER
AN ALBANIAN in whom are happily united literary talents and successful business qualities, and who, while scarcely in the full meridian of life has risen to the foremost rank of the distinguished young men of the capital city is Howard N. Fuller. Of unassuming manners, modest pretension, equable and cordial disposition, his sterling worth has brought him into high and universal esteem. He was born at New Baltimore, Greene Co., N. Y., on the 28th of October, 1853.
” Some try to wheedle fame from coffined dust; Fame comes uncalled unto the noble, just.”
These lines from Mr. Fuller’s own pen must be accepted as proof of his independence of ancestral greatness as a means of acquiring individual distinction, or as an incentive to personal achievements. Although he lays no claim to superior lineage he comes from an honored ancestory. His father descended from sturdy Holland stock and his mother from a good old Anglo-Saxon line. The more immediate ancestry of Mr. Fuller, it is said, can be traced back to Thomas Fuller, a clergyman, who came over in the Mayflower in 1620, and settled as a pastor in Connecticut, and who left his descendants, if nothing else, ” the heritage of an honored name.” His father, William Fuller, is still a resident of New Baltimore. He is a man of admirable traits of character, of decision and perseverance, who, in his younger days, experienced unusual hardships while striving to advance his station in life. By his invincible energy he rose superior to adverse conditions and circumstances, and has attained an eminent position in society, besides acquiring, by frugality and foresight, an ample sufficiency of worldly goods. The following lines from the poem, ” My Father,” by the subject of this sketch, is an affectionate filial tribute to a kind parent and a noble man:
” He has lived a life of loving, Which fulfils the higher plan, That professing is the doing, – Love to God means love to man.”
He married Miss Lydia A. Swezey, and for more than forty years the devoted couple lived together at New Baltimore. Three years ago the nuptial tie was broken by the death of Mrs. Fuller in her seventy-second year. Both parents found great comfort in the society of their children.
Howard N. Fuller received his earliest instruction at the primary school of his native village, taught by Miss Jeannette Griffith. He early showed his taste for literature and his parents were glad to further his inclination. He was next sent to the Coeymans academy, then under the principalship of the late Thomas McKee, a man of ripe scholarship and an excellent instructor. At the age of fifteen young Fuller entered the Rutgers college grammar school at New Brunswick, N. J., with his brother Perry J., who is now a prosperous lawyer of New York city. He remained there a year, and entering Rutgers college with the class of ’74 he completed the regular college course of four years’ study, and was graduated with high honor at that excellent, time-honored institution, then under the presidency of the scholarly Rev. Dr. William H. Campbell. The literary efforts of Mr. Fuller while at college were rewarded with success. In 1873 he won the junior Philoclean literary prize, and in the following year he secured the senior English composition prize. During his college days Mr. Fuller was not only a great lover of classical and English literature but also of athletic sports, and was delegated by Rutgers in 1873 to meet representatives of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and the university of Pennsylvania at New York to make rules and regulations to govern collegiate football playing. The work of that committee was approved by all the colleges, and the rules then adopted govern football playing of American colleges today. While at college Mr. Fuller devoted an occasional spare hour from his studies to the exercise of his poetical genius. Among other pieces, he wrote a college song: ” On the Banks of the Old Raritan,” which has ever since been the standard college song of old Rutgers.
The New Brunswick, N. J., Fredonian June 18, 1889, spoke of Mr. Fuller as ” the author of that grand old song, which fires the heart of every Rutgers’ man, ‘ On the Banks of the Old Raritan ‘ His name will live in that song so long as the stones in old Rutgers’ walls stand one above another.”
After completing his course of collegiate study, Mr. Fuller returned home, and during the following year began the publication of the New Baltimore Siin, which was discontinued shortly afterward for lack of advertising support. In the summer of 1876 he came to Albany, where he became connected with the firm of William Fuller & Sons, composed of his father and two brothers, government contractors and dealers in building materials. In order to increase his general store of information, while continuing his business relations with his firm, he successively pursued a one year’s course in both law and medicine, and for another year thereafter, or until the death of its proprietor, managed and edited the Greenbush Gazette. While successful in business matters he has shown marked ability in other directions. He has devoted many hours to literary work, and is acknowledged to be a clever writer. His genius is not limited in style or scope, but he is equally happy in serious and humorous composition. For two years he wrote a column of witty paragraphs for the Yonkers Gazette, which gave him great prominence in the world of humor, besides contributing at the same time to the several humorous periodicals of the country. He has enlivened the columns of Judge with his paragraphs and poems, and has composed a number of songs which have become popular. One of his songs is, ” God Bless the Little Woman,” the sentiments of which were suggested to him when President Garfield was laid low by the assassin’s bullet, and when the devoted wife was tenderly watching over him. Some time afterward, Mrs. Garfield, in a personal note, gracefully expressed her thanks to him for a hymn which had not only touched her own heart, but that of the nation. Another touching tribute to the martyred president is his hymn ” The Heart of the Nation is Sad Today.” The Albany Argus said of this production: ” The song, in fact, is about the only one written in commemoration of the martyred president’s death that is worthy of the subject.” The poem on the death of General Grant, which first appeared in the Albany Journal., found wide publicity, and elicited much favorable criticism. It is regarded as a meritorious example of poetic art, and a fine heroic ode, combining simplicity of diction, exalted sentiment and skillful construction. One of his most popular sentimental songs, ” The Dear Old Home,” was probably inspired by a visit to the home of his childhood. It was sung with great success by Thatcher, Primrose & West’s minstrel troop. Mr. Fuller is also the author of the ” Bi-Centennial Hymn,” written by request of the committee of arrangements, which was sung in concert by the thousands of Albany’s school children, and in the city churches, during that memorable event in the annals of Albany.
Mr. Fuller has done considerable literary work of a serious and religious character. Some of his productions, which have appeared in the YoittJis Companion, of Boston, The Indepetident , Christian Intelligencer and other religious weeklies, unmistakably reveal great literary genius.
His poetical compositions are, for the most part, of the lyrical and pastoral order, and reveal the true poetic instinct. His sacred poems display the sympathetic impulses and the pure religious fervor characteristic of refined sensibilities. He has written a number of patriotic poems of high excellence, and is a charming writer of light amatory verse. He is also the author of many songs of diversified character, some of which have been widely sung and possess enduring qualities. His superior faculty for poetical writing is probably best reflected in his pastoral poems. The following on *’ Home and Happiness,” is a beautiful alliterative poem:
” How happy is the home,
Wherein contentment dwells,
There labor’s restless loom
The song of concord swells;
There comfort proud presides
O’er fortune’s scanty store
And gladness calmly glides
Unceasing through its door.
“How happy is the sphere,
Where love supremely reigns,
There faith foreslalleth fear,
And joy precludeth pains;
There pleasures crown the day
In sweet and swift increase.
And heaven hangs o’er the way
The golden arch of peace.”
These lines from the poem, “Three Things I Crave,” illustrate his proficiency in didactic verse:
“Contentment is another boon I crave,
That whatsoe’er may be my lot, –
That whatsoe’er the worldly store I have,
I may submit and murmur not;
That whether fame and fortune pass me by.
Or Mammon shall my state deride,
I shall not be disposed to even sigh,
But with my lot be satisfied.”
All of Mr. Fuller’s versified writings are characterized by that simple diction, pleasing imagery, original thought and graceful style which constitute successful qualities in poetry.
Mr. Fuller’s time is now almost wholly absorbed by mercantile matters, and his natural desire for literary work has succumbed to the arbitrary influences of business.
Since attaining his majority Mr. Fuller has always been a zealous participant in politics. In 1876, although but twenty-three years old, he addressed political meetings in several counties of the state in behalf of the national republican ticket. Always a staunch republican he has taken a live interest in the fortunes of his party. In 1885 he was induced, against his wishes, to accept the nomination for alderman of the eleventh ward. He was elected and served his constituency and the city with rare credit and fidelity for the term of two years. He refused a renomination. For three terms he has been president of the famous Unconditional republican club, the chief republican organization of the interior of the state, being the only one who has been reelected to the presidency of the club during its permanent existence. He did yeoman’s work in the Harrison and Morton campaign, and directed also the affairs of the Unconditional campaign club, unquestionably one of the most powerful and effective campaign organizations in the country. As a reward for his indefatigable labor the members of both the permanent and campaign clubs, of both of which he was president at the time, unitedly and enthusiastically urged his appointment as surveyor of customs for the port of Albany. At first he strenuously objected to being a candidate for the office, but ignoring his feelings in the matter, his friends pressed his case with so much persistency and vigor that he was compelled by the force of circumstances to acknowledge himself as such. There were several other formidable candidates and the contest was one of the longest and most stubborn ever known in the history of Albany County politics. It resulted unfavorably to Mr. Fuller, owing principally to outside and ill-advised interference. Nothing has ever discomfited and disheartened the republicans of Albany so much as Mr. Fuller’s defeat. He was the candidate of the young men, the sinew and strength of the party. It may also be here stated that he was one of the originators and chief promoters of the national league of republican clubs, which became a principal factor in the success of the republican ticket in the last presidential election. Its history, progress and work are universally known.
Mr. Fuller was the republican candidate for mayor of Albany at the recent municipal election, but as expected, with such overwhelming democratic odds against him, he was defeated.
Mr. Fuller is an active member of many social and literary clubs, and takes a deep interest in the prosperity of the Young Men’s association, Albany’s oldest and most successful literary organization.
He is a bachelor, although possessing pronounced domestic traits, a congenial spirit and a warm heart. He is universally well liked, and of such a forbearing and forgiving disposition that a friend truthfully remarked: ” Fuller has not an enemy in the world.” Of high character, superior attainments and good executive ability, few young men of the city are so competent to serve the public faithfully in offices of great trust and responsibility.
This brief sketch can be concluded no more fittingly than by quoting his own words, beautifully expressed in the following lines, which are so true an index of his own life, and whose precepts, if more faithfully and generally followed, would lead mankind to a higher state of earthly happiness:
” So let me live that when I die
My life shall show no blot of shame
And o’er the grave wherein I lie.
Beneath my plainly graven name.
Upon a low and modest stone,
That every eye can quickly scan,
May this be carved, and this alone:
‘He loved his God and fellowman.'”