WILLIAM PINKNEY WHYTE
William Pinkney Whyte was Mayor of Baltimore from November 7th, 1881, to November 5th, 1883. During this administration a Lake Clifton loan of $500,000 was approved; a resolution to accept the Enoch Pratt Free Library was adopted; Richmond Market was leased to the Fifth Maryland Regiment. The Board of Fire Commissioners was abolished and their powers transferred to the (City) Fire Marshal whose office was created at this time. In 1884, under Mayor Latrobe, the Board of Fire Commissioners was again revived and the office of (City) Fire Marshal was terminated. During Mayor 'Whyte's incumbency the department of Street Cleaning was established and the erection of a quarantine hospital at Hawkins Point was authorized. Provision was made to organize a Manual Training School (now Polytechnic Institute) its a part of the Public school system. Ordinances to accept Collington Square and to condemn and open Federal Street from Cannon (now Milton Ave.) to the eastern city limits; Wolfe Street from Monument to North Avenue; and Cannon Street (now Milton Avenue) from North Avenue to Federal Street were approved. A Councilmanic re solution urging the legislature, to prohibit the future creation of irredeemable ground rents wait passed. The city was divided into twenty wards at this period.
Mr. Whyte, who was affectionately referred to as "the grand old man of Maryland," was born August,9th, 1824, and died March 17th, 1908. Besides the Mayoralty, he held, at various periods, many other high offices; he served as United States Senator, Governor of the State, Attorney General, State Comptroller, City Solicitor, and Chairman of the Charter Commission of 1898.
Mr. Whyte was a man of exceptional personal traits, and the position he occupied in the community, at least during the latter part of his career, was entirely unique. Though he was of aristocratic bearing and presence, he was rugged in his political and legal battles, for he was an aggressive, as well as a distinguished lawyer. He also attained eminence as a political campaigner. For half a century or more he was in the public eye, and at the time of his death he was a United States Senator from Maryland. Mr. Whyte was of Irish extraction. His father was Joseph White (as the name was then spelled) and his grandfather was Dr. John Campbell White, who came to Baltimore from Ireland about 1798. William Pinkney Wyte was a grandson, on the maternal side, of William Pinkney, who served with such distinction in the United States from Maryland. His mother was Isabelle Pinkney White. Mr. Whyte was born in Baltimore August 9th, 1824. His early education was gained at elementary schools, for he began a business career at 18 years when he entered the banking house of George Peabody, with which he was connected for a period of nearly two years. He then began the study of law at the Harvard Law School, being admitted to the Baltimore Bar in 1846. He married Miss Louisa D. Hollinsworth, December 7, 1847. She died October 28, 1885. Senator Whyte's second marriage was to Mrs. Raleigh Thomas (now dead) who was Miss Mary McDonald. This marriage occurred April 22, 1892.
In 1846 Mr. Whyte was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates on the Democratic ticket, serving the one term of 1847. He entered the primary as a Democratic candidate for Congress in 1851, but after getting the nomination was defeated by the Whig candidate. In 1863, he was elected Comptroller of the State of Maryland, and in 1857 he was again a Democratic candidate for Congress tinder very inauspicious circumstances. Partisan politics are said to have entered largely into this fight. At that time the Know Nothing Party was supreme in Baltimore. Mr. Whyte, according to the story, was persuaded by his friends to accept the Democratic nomination, although it is generally understood that he was predoomed to defeat. Governor Hicks, a Know Nothing adherent, declared J. Morrison Harris elected. Mr. Whyte carried his fight to Congress, but the decision was unfavorable by a small majority.
Mr. Whyte was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1868. The appointment of Reverdy Johnson as Minister to Great Britain caused a vacancy in the United States Senate to which Mr. Whyte was appointed, serving from July 14th, 1868, to March, 1869. He was elected Governor of Maryland on the Democratic ticket in 1871, resigning March 4th, 1874, preparatory to entering the United States Senate March 4th, 1875, he being elected to succeed Senator Hamilton in the upper branch of Congress for the term of six years until March 1881, Mr. Hamilton's term having expired. Mr. Whyte was elected Mayor of Baltimore, as has been stated, serving one term 18811883. Being nominated for Attorney General of Maryland by the Democratic State Convention of 1887, he was elected and held office for four years. He was a member of the New Charter Commission of Baltimore 1896-8. He received from President Harrison the appointment as delegate to the Convention of American Nations in 1889, but declined this honor. In 1900 Mr. Whyte was appointed City Solicitor by Mr. Hayes. He retired from this office in 1903.
June 8th, 1906, he was appointed by Governor Warfield to the vacancy in the United States Senate occasioned by the death of Senator Gorman. He served during the interim before the assembling of the Legislature, and when that body met was elected Senator Gorman's successor; He had, however, submitted his candidacy to the people, running in the first Democratic Senatorial primary held in Maryland. He was unopposed. The Legislature afterward confirmed the result. During the Civil War Mr. Whyte, 'although of pronounced Southern proclivities, was drafted for the Federal Army but was disqualified because of physical disability. With many other Baltimoreans who were in sympathy, or who were assumed to be in sympathy with the South, he was disfranchised, but this disability was removed under the general restoration of the franchise in Maryland. His political career had, of course, many ramifications and was not without the usual feuds incident to political and public life. One of the most bitter disagreements he had was with Senator Gorman. In 1881 when Mr. Whyte entered the Mayoralty he was an unopposed candidate whose election was a foregone conclusion, the Republicans putting no candidate forward. A bronze statue of Senator Whyte, in the City Hall, was unveiled September 12th, 1918.
Revised: November 04, 1998