17 March 2009

William Horace Hotchkiss


William Horace Hotchkiss was an attorney whose specialties included bankruptcy law and the emerging legal field now called vehicle and traffic law. He was born in Whitehall, Washington County, New York, on 7 September 1864, and was educated at Hamilton College (A.B., 1886; A.M., 1889). After admission to the bar in 1888, Hotchkiss worked as an attorney in Auburn until 1890 as a member of the firm Teller & Hotchkiss, and served as the clerk of the Cayuga County Surrogate's Court (1887-89).

Hotchkiss practiced his profession in Buffalo until 1912, as a member, successively, of the Parker & Hotchkiss, Parker, Hotchkiss, Miller & Templeton, and Hotchkiss & Bush firms; during this period, he was the referee in bankruptcy for Erie County (1898-1909). He promoted the development of legislation to regulate the operation of motor vehicles, and drafted New York State's Motor Vehicle Law of 1904. He was elected president of the Erie County Bar Association, the National Association of Referees in Bankruptcy, the American Automobile Association and the New York State Automobile Association. His published works include Collier on Bankruptcy (fourth edition), a work initially authored by another Auburn attorney, William Miller Collier. His expertise in the field of bankruptcy led to his appointment as lecturer on bankruptcy at the New York Law School and at the Cornell Law School.

Hotchkiss was the first New York State chairman of the National Progressive Party, and was a signer of the original call for the establishment of the Progressive Party in 1912. The Progressive Party was the result of a split in the Republican Party during the presidential campaign of 1912, in which Theodore Roosevelt lost the Republican nomination William Howard Taft. The party is often called the Bull Moose Party, a reference Roosevelt's boast that he was "as strong as a bull moose."