Roscoe Conkling (October 30, 1829 – April 18, 1888) was a lawyer and politician who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
A leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party, he was the first Republican senator from New York to be elected for three terms, and the last person to turn down a U.S. Supreme Court appointment after he had already been confirmed to the post.
Conkling was born in Albany, educated in the law in Utica, and was appointed district attorney of Oneida County by Governor Hamilton Fish. While in the House, Conkling served as bodyguard for abolitionist Representative Thaddeus Stevens.
Conkling was elected to the Senate in 1867 as a leading Radical, who supported the rights of African Americans during Reconstruction. He also had a reputation as a womanizer and philanderer, and was accused of having an affair with the married Kate Chase Sprague.
During the Great Blizzard of 1888, Conkling attempted to walk three miles from his law office on Wall Street to his home on 25th Street near Madison Square. Conkling made it as far as Union Square before collapsing. He contracted pneumonia and died several weeks later.
The Oneida County History Center is set to host a celebration of the 190th birthday of Roscoe Conkling in Utica, with WUTR News Director Tom Coyne, on Tuesday, October 29th.
Attendees are invited to enjoy birthday treats and learn about Conkling’s life and legacy. This program takes place in the History Center’s main gallery, doors will open at 6:30 pm, with the celebration starting at 7 pm.
Admission is a suggested donation of $8 members, $10 non-members. Tickets can be purchased at the door or via the OCHC e-bookstore.
The Oneida County History Center is located at 1608 Genesee Street, Utica. More information is available on their website, or by calling (315) 735-3642.
Illustration of Roscoe Conkling provided.