WILLIAM P. RUDD
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IN THE field of professional, educational and political labor, and as possessing the genuine qualities of a true manhood, no young man amongst us is entitled to a higher place in the estimation of his fellow-citizens than William P. Rudd, member of the law firm of Messrs. Harris and Rudd.
Born in Albany on the 9th of June, 1851, he has always continued to reside here, manifesting a strong love for his native city and its cherished institutions, whose welfare he has ever at heart. His father, William T. Rudd, a man well acquainted with business matters and of strict integrity, was for more than forty years employed as bank messenger and passenger conductor on the New York Central railroad, and since he severed his connection with the company in 1881 he has been held in the highest esteem by its officers.
The subject of our sketch received his early education in the public schools of this city and a special preparation for college at a private school here. In the fall of 1869 he entered the freshman class, classical course, of Union college. His student life was marked by devotion to his studies, and while carrying on his regular and steady work he gave much time to affairs outside the prescribed course. For two years he was on the editorial staff of the Union college magazine, and afterward became the senior editor in charge of the publication. Chiefly by his literary taste, tact, ability and careful attention this magazine became the largest college monthly published in the United States. It was highly-prized by a large class of readers, and many a well-deserved tribute was paid to its young, scholarly editor. Fully believing in the combination of physical and intellectual labor in the maintenance of the health of both body and mind Mr. Rudd was active in advancing the interests of Union college in athletic sports, particularly in boating. He was also chairman of the committee of students to raise money for the building of the college gymnasium, the corner stone of which was laid on the day the class of which he was a number graduated, and which has since been completed, supplying a long needed want to an old and honorable institution of learning. In July, 1873, in the twenty-second year of his age, Mr. Rudd graduated from Union college with class honors, taking the Clark essay prize, and was one of the speakers on the commencement stage. He was an active and earnest member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Thus auspiciously leaving the halls of learning with the promise of the future bright before him, he was about ready to decide upon some useful profession in which he should engage in a life work. At the commencement in June, 1876, Union college conferred the degree of A. M. upon him. During and previous to his college course, he had devoted some little time to the preliminary study of medicine, and had even attended a course of lectures at the Albany Medical college. But he finally decided upon the study of the law, and in the fall of 1873 he was entered as a law student in the office of Messrs. Reynolds and Harris of this city. The individual members of this noted law firm were John H. Reynolds, Hamilton Harris and Charles W. Reynolds. Here Mr. Rudd continued his studies until the death of Judge Reynolds and Charles W. Reynolds, when he became managing clerk in the office of their successors, Messrs. Harris and Miller. Under the teachings of such able instructors and advocates, Mr.. Rudd rapidly advanced in his knowledge of the great principles of legal science, until in May, 1875, he was admitted to the bar by the general term of the Supreme Court then sitting in Albany. He had also taken the degree of L. B., at the Albany Law School, and was now soon to begin his long connection with a well-known firm of this city. In June, 1877, when the firm of Harris and Miller was dissolved, a partnership was formed consisting of Hamilton Harris, William P. Rudd and Frederick Harris, which, as the firm of Harris and Rudd, continues to this time, and for many years has enjoyed a lucrative and successful practice to a marked degree. This partnership has, we believe, existed longer than that of any other law firm now practicing in Albany, and in that sense the firm of Harris and Rudd may be said to be the oldest in this city in the practice of law.
As a lawyer Mr. Rudd has been successful, and is entrusted with matters of importance calling for the exercise of good faith, honest effort and sound judgment – qualities which are among the brightest ornaments to any member of the legal profession.
While a student at law Mr. Rudd indulged in some newspaper work as a correspondent for the New York Herald and Tribune, and represented the former paper at Saratoga during the famous inter-collegiate regatta in 1877. Following an inclination for athletics, after he left college, he connected himself with the Olympic Boat club, of this city, and for several years, when the club became famous for its oft-repeated victories in many of the greatest regattas held, he was its captain and rowed in its racing crews.
In politics Mr. Rudd’s career deserves more than a passing notice. In the affairs of the republican party, of which he is an active and intelligent member, he has taken a somewhat conspicuous part. For three years he was a member of its general committee from the strongest republican ward in Albany, and in May. 1887, he was unanimously elected chairman of the county committee upon a harmonious organization of the party, as one upon whom all factions could agree. Under his leadership that year the work of the party was strong, earnest and effective. A county convention was held in which all factions participated, and which was harmonious and enthusiastic – a ticket nominated and elected. The campaign of that year, resulting in the election of a county treasurer and senator, was said by members of the state committee to have been one of the most thorough and effective of any in the state.
The counsel and advice of Mr. Rudd are frequently sought in matters political; and it may be said that if others would resort to his methods many of the unpleasant and disorganizing conditions might be readily avoided. Thus has Mr. Rudd already shown his tact, sagacity and boldness in the arena of politics, in “a broad, statesman-like and masterly way.” Upon the organization of the league of republican clubs he was elected a member of the state executive committee, representing Albany County, and at the convention held at Saratoga Springs he was made a member of the New York state delegation to the national convention, held at Baltimore. He is one of the staff officers of the Capital City club and a member of the executive committee of the Unconditional club.
But there is another department in which his cultured mind has taken a deep and abiding interest, and that is in the cause of education. On the resignation of E. A. Durant, Jr., from the board of public instruction, June, 1886, Mr. Rudd was elected to fill the vacancy; in the spring of 1887 he was elected for the full term, and in 1890 re-elected for three years. Immediately upon familiarizing himself with the duties and requirements of the office, he became active and earnest in all matters pertaining to the best interests of the school system. Made a member of the most important committees he has always given earnest thought and honest effort to the work of education as conducted by our city. Recognizing his worth as a commissioner after two years’ service his associates elected him president of the board, in which capacity he served with credit to himself and for the best interests of the school system.
The work of this non-partisan board is now entirely harmonious, and in the opinion of citizens is generally honest and showing good result. After the course of study and methods of teaching, particular attention is at present being given to the condition of the school buildings; and the year during which Mr. Rudd presided showed as great, if not greater advancement, in the condition of buildings and school accommodations and facilities than ever before.
In the Young Men’s association, believing it a part of the educational system of the city, Mr. Rudd has taken more than an active part in the management of its affairs. Elected recording secretary on the ticket headed by Dr. Jacob S. Mosher in 1878, the next year he was elected treasurer of the board, and the year following, after an unusually severe contest, was chosen president. Under his administration the association made commendable progress. A very successful course of lectures was conducted, a catalogue of the library was printed, and the general tone of the institution strengthened. Upon the death of Robert H. Pruyn, Mr. Rudd was elected to the board of life trustees of the Y. M. A., and shortly afterward was chosen secretary and treasurer of the board. For several years he was interested in securing to the Y. M. A. the benefit of the Bleecker trust, and it is understood that he was freely consulted by Judge Parker in the matter of its disposition. He served as chairman of the committee to devise means for the acceptance of the proposition made by Judge Parker, and drew the report under which the gift was finally accepted and subscriptions solicited from the public. He was also a member of the building committee for the construction of Harmanus Bleecker hall, and as treasurer disbursed the funds in payment for the work done. When the subject of erecting a public library building was agitated he was made a member of the committee to formulate the plan, and was active in advancing the project. He is also a trustee of the Albany County Savings bank, and a member of the Fort Orange club.
In October, 1883, Mr. Rudd was married to Aimee P. Allen, daughter of the late Henry A. Allen, for many years teller of the New York State bank. They have one son, Tracey Allen Rudd.
The work which Mr. Rudd has already accomplished in the various fields in which he has been employed has reflected no little credit upon him, and caused his name to be widely and favorably known among all classes of good citizens, irrespective of party. His career thus far, marked by calmness, dignity and firmness without ostentation or noisy display, is more like a stream moving along through plains diversified by beautiful scenery, gradually gathering strength and volume in its course.