Bennet, Hiram P.

Hiram P. Bennet
See also: Congressional Biography
Carthage, Maine
Richland Co., OH
W. Iowa
Glenwood, IA
Nebraska City, NE
Denver, CO

page 496

Hiram P. Bennet was born in Carthage, Maine, September 2, 1826.  His parents removed to Richland county, Ohio, in 1831, and to northwestern Missouri in 1839.  In 1844, he returned to Ohio and attended private schools and the Ohio Wesleyan University until 1850.  Having thus qualified himself to do so, young Bennet immediately became a country school teacher in northwestern Missouri, and at the same time a determined student of law.  Admitted to the Bar in 1851, he practiced in western Iowa until 1854, when he located at Glenwood, Iowa, and in 1856 at Nebraska City, Nebraska, where he was elected in that year to the upper branch of the Nebraska Territorial Legislature, presided at the organization of that body, and served in one of the stormy periods of that Territory’s struggle against slavery.  In 1855 he was the "Free Soil" candidate for Delegate in Congress from Nebraska, was elected by a small majority, but the seat was given his Democratic opponent after a contest in the House of Representatives.  In 1858 he was again elected to the Nebraska Legislature and became Speaker of the House for two sessions.

Mr. Bennet came to Colorado in the autumn of 1859, located in Denver, and began practicing law; forming in 1860 a partnership with Moses Hallett.  In July, 1861, he was nominated by the Republicans as their candidate for Delegate in Congress from the new Territory of Colorado, and was elected that year; defeating Beverly D. Williams who had been "Delegate" from Jefferson Territory," by a vote of 6,703 to 2,892.  He was re-elected for a second term, his competitors having been former Governor Gilpin and J.M. Francisco.  Upon the expiration of his Congressional service he resumed law practice in Denver.  In 1869 he was appointed Postmaster here and held that position five years.  In 1876 he was elected a Senator, from Arapahoe county, in the First General Assembly of the State of Colorado.  After his term in the Senate he resumed his practice which he continued until a few years ago when he retired for a season from active professional work, on account of poor health, but is now again engaged in the practice of law.

The foregoing is the merest outline of Mr. Bennet’s career as a citizen of Denver.  In other parts of this volume more is told of it.  There is nothing in the present life of this quiet, pleasant, gentle-mannered man to suggest the part he bore in the turbulent pioneer times when this region was practically without government.  Upon him fell the dangerous duty in most instances to be the prosecutor of desperadoes, murderers and thieves in their trials by "People’s Courts."  As an open, outspoken, relentless opponent of those foes of the community, he was a leader in the movements for their destruction; and his undauntable moral and physical courage in everything he undertook to do made him conspicuous among brave men.  He was also a participant and a leader in all the more or less successful attempts to organize and maintain provisional or emergency governments here in 1859-60-61.  Though a Territorial Delegate has no vote in Congress, Mr. Bennet while serving there was not a figurehead, but procured Executive orders and the enactment of laws of great importance to his constituents in the then new and undeveloped west.  As a member of our first State Senate, his experience and ability were of great value in shaping the beginnings of legislation under State organization.  In the history of our city and State, especially in that part of it covering the pioneer era, the student will encounter few more interesting figures, few personalities of greater influence and usefulness in the community or that filled a larger place in the affairs and esteem of the people, than that of Hiram P. Bennet.