Charles Frederick Crisp
|33rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives|
December 8, 1891 – March 4, 1895
|Preceded by||Thomas B. Reed|
|Succeeded by||Thomas B. Reed|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Georgia's 3rd district
March 4, 1883 – October 23, 1896
|Preceded by||Philip Cook|
|Succeeded by||Charles R. Crisp|
|Born||January 29, 1845|
|Died||October 23, 1896 (aged 51)|
Charles Frederick Crisp (January 29, 1845 – October 23, 1896) was a United States political figure. A Democrat, he was elected as a Congressman from Georgia in 1882, and served until his death in 1896. From 1890 until his death, he was leader of the Democratic Party in the House, as either the House Minority Leader or the Speaker of the House. He was also the father of Charles R. Crisp who also served in Congress.
Crisp was born in Sheffield, England on January 29, 1845. Later in that year, his parents immigrated to the United States and settled in Georgia where he attended the common schools of Savannah and Macon, Georgia. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, he was temporarily residing in Luray, Virginia, with his parents, who were in the middle of a Shakespearean play tour. He enlisted in a local unit, the "Page Volunteers" of Company K, 10th Virginia Infantry, and was commissioned lieutenant. He served with that regiment until May 12, 1864, when he became a prisoner of war at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. He was held as one of the Immortal Six Hundred at Fort Pulaski, Georgia, and later transferred to Fort Delaware. After his release in June 1865, he joined his parents at Ellaville, Georgia.
Crisp studied law at Americus, Georgia. He was admitted to the bar in 1866 and commenced practice in Ellaville. He was appointed solicitor general of the southwestern judicial circuit in 1872 and reappointed in 1873 for a term of four years. Later, he was appointed judge of the superior court of the same circuit in June 1877. Crisp was elected by the general assembly to the same office in 1878 and reelected judge for a term of four years in 1880 when resigned that office in September 1882 to accept the Democratic nomination for the United States Congress.
He married Clara Bell Burton, born in Ellaville, a little town in the southwest of Georgia, of wealthy and religious parentage. Her father, Robert Burton, was a planter before the war, owning many slaves. Both he and her mother cherished high ambitions for the future of their two daughters, and they were greatly chagrined when Charles Crisp, then a poor embryo lawyer, and who was of a theatrical family, which was abhorrent to their religious ideas, desired to marry their youngest daughter, Clara Bell, and their grief knew no bounds when they discovered that her affections had been won. Mrs. Burton, especially, was overwhelmed with sorrow, for she felt that her beautiful daughter ought to make a more ambitious marriage. Crisp did nothing underhanded. He wrote a manly letter to Mr. Burton, and in after years, when Mr. Crisp had reached distinction, Mr. Burton declared that his son-in-law had never written anything better than this letter. But although every line breathed eloquence it was all to no purpose, Mr. and Mrs. Burton would not yield. Crisp then requested a friend to go to Mr. Burton and ask that they might be married at her home. But this her parents refused, and finally, they decided to be married elsewhere. Clara Bell's sister, Ella, assisted her in providing a pretty trousseau, and one bright Sunday morning, when she was visiting her brother, who resided in the suburbs of Ellaville, Crisp drove out in his buggy and took her to his boarding place, where, in the presence of a few friends who had assembled in the little parlor, they were married. Just as the minister pronounced them man and wife a bright sunbeam came in and flooded the room. This was prophetic of their future life, which was most happy. The Sunday following Crisp and his wife united with the Methodist Church of Ellaville. Clara Bell said, "I felt I wanted to commence right, and I thought the best thing we could do, as a young married couple, was to get into the fold of a good institution like the Methodist Church." Soon Clara Bell's parents were reconciled and loved Crisp as a son, and he became the mainstay of their old age. They lived fifty-one years in the same place where they first kept house. Clara Bell, on her death-bed, said: "My life would have been marred. As old as I am I cannot think what my life would have been without him. The moon and stars revolve around him to me. My father and mother came to love him very much. He has been the dearest, sweetest husband to me, and I have loved him better than anything else on earth."
Crisp served as president of the Democratic gubernatorial convention at Atlanta, Georgia, in April 1883. he was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-eighth and to the six succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1883, until his death. In Congress, he served as chairman of the Committee on Elections in the Fiftieth Congress, Committee on Rules in the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses, and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses. He had been nominated for United States Senator in the Georgia primary of 1896, but he died in Atlanta on October 23, 1896, and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in his hometown of Americus. Georgia's Crisp County is named in his honor.
- United States Congress. "Charles Frederick Crisp (id: C000908)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2008-02-13
- Malone, Preston St. Clair. “The Political Career of Charles Frederick Crisp.” Ph.D. diss., University of Georgia, 1962.
- Martin, S. Walter. “Charles F. Crisp: Speaker of the House.” Georgia Review 8 (Summer 1954): 167-77.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 3rd congressional district
March 4, 1883 – October 23, 1896
Charles R. Crisp
Thomas B. Reed
| Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 8, 1891 – March 4, 1893;
August 7, 1893 – March 4, 1895
Thomas B. Reed