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HON. JOHN P. HOYT. – “Every man has two educations, – one which he receives from others, and one more important, which he gives himself.” Very early in life the subject of this sketch learned this important lesson; and the fruits of its strict observance are being enjoyed by him at present. He owes his advancement to no accident of birth or fortune, but has earned success through the toilsome avenue of study and hard work. His early education was acquired at a country district school during the winter months, when the plow used on his father’s farm stood idle in the granary. By close application to his books, he became proficient enough at the age of seventeen to teach the youth of his neighborhood himself, which he did during the winter. The savings of this labor, together with the funds earned during harvest, enabled him to attend an academy located in a village not far from his rural home.
He thus continued his studies until 1862 when, true to his country’s needs, he enlisted for the protection of her flag and fought nobly in her behalf until peace was restored. While in the army he determined upon the adoption of law as a profession, and applied himself to the study thereof as well as the life of a soldier would permit. After being mustered out of service, he returned home and entered the Ohio State and Union Law College, located at Cleveland in that state, and from that institution graduated in July, 1867. Soon after receiving his degree, he removed to Tuscola county, Michigan, and opened up an office; and but a brief period elapsed before he attained high rank among the profession for ability. While located in that state he was elected prosecuting attorney of the county in which he resided, for a term of four years, and was also honored by being elected a member of the lower branch of the legislature for two terms, the latter of which he served as speaker of the house.
By close application to his profession, his health began to fail; and in consequence he accepted, for the purpose of a change of climate and rest, an appointment as secretary of Arizona Territory, and in June of that year removed to his new field of life. In this position he served until April, 1877, when he was appointed governor of that commonwealth, in which office he continued until August, 1878, when he was appointed governor of Idaho Territory, to relieve Governor Brayman, who had displeased the general government through his administration of affairs during the Nez Perce war. Governor Hoyt’s successor as chief executive of Arizona did not arrive in that territory until October of that year; and the intervening time afforded our subject ample time to inform himself relative to the troubles in Idaho. After an investigation of them, he concluded that the suspension of Governor Brayman was uncalled for, and through a sense of justice wrote the President, declining to accept the appointment tendered. The President received the letter in the spirit it was written, and at once wrote to the governor that, if he did not enter upon the duties of the office, Governor Brayman would probably be allowed to serve out his time. In such event the President suggested that the governor accept an appointment as associate justice of the supreme court of Washington Territory, which he did, and in February, 1878, removed with his family to that territory, and entered upon the discharge of the duties of the position.
His first term upon the bench gave such universal satisfaction that ever practicing attorney in each of the twelve counties in the district requested President Arthur that the governor be reappointed, which was done. He served out his entire second term, not being disturbed by President Cleveland, whose election to the presidency of the nation had changed the political complexion of its administration. At the expiration of his appointment, he removed to Seattle, Washington Territory, and took charge of the business of Dexter, Horton & Co’s banking house, and has continued in that employ until the present. He was elected a member of the constitutional convention from the twentieth district, and was chosen president of that body, presiding with entire satisfaction to all concerned. At the Republican convention held at Walla Walla for the nomination of the five supreme judgeships of the state; and, at the election held on October 1st following, he was with the balance of the ticket triumphantly elected.