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Thomas Platt

Thomas Collier Platt was born in Owego, New York, on July 15, 1833,and later attended Yale. He was able to amass a considerable fortune early in life, stemming from his activities in banking and lumber. Platt served two terms in Congress (1873-77) and returned to private life to later become president of the United States Express Company. Thomas Platt was a protégé of Roscoe Conkling, the most powerful boss in New York politics. Platt followed Conkling into the Senate in 1881, but remained only two months. Conkling had been offended by the independence shown by the new president, James A. Garfield, who had refused to make appointments to Conkling's liking. Platt was persuaded to join Conkling in resigning from the Senate; both assumed they would be quickly renamed as senators, offering a rebuke to Garfield. The reelection did not occur and Platt was saddled with the nickname of "Me Too Platt" for slavishly following his mentor. Conkling retired from politics, leaving Thomas Platt in control of the political machinery of New York. Theodore Roosevelt became governor of New York in 1899. Platt quickly tired of the energetic governor's enthusiasm for reform (referring to him as a "bull in a china shop") and decided to recommend him for the Republican vice presidential nomination in 1900. His hope was that Benjamin B. Odell, nominated to replace Roosevelt as govenor, would prove more compliant with his wishes than Roosevelt had been. He wasn't concerned about Roosevelt; most vice presidents quickly descended into obscurity. But not Roosevelt, who moved to center stage upon the assassination of William McKinley. Thomas Platt served two Senate terms (1897-1909) at the end of his career, but his grasp on New York politics had long since waned. He died in New York City on March 6, 1910.