|photo by D. C. McJonathan|
Roscoe Conkling was among the most recognized of New York's citizens in 1888. Born in Albany on October 30, 1829, he grew up among lawyers and politicians. His father, Alfred Conkling, was both a federal judge and a U. S. Representative; and his mother, the former Eliza Cockburn, was cousin of Lord Chief-Justice Sir Alexander Cockburn. Noteworthy political figures who passed through the Conkling parlors included Martin Van Buren and John Quincy Adams.
Roscoe was, however, a rambunctious child and a frustration to his father, who called him a "utterly untutored" at the age of 13. He was send off to boarding school at Mount Washington Collegiate Institute to receive disciplined instruction. It worked.
At the age of 17 Conkling chose to study law within a Utica firm rather than continue to college. His outstanding oratory skills and his strong views on human rights made him a recognized speaker. At only 18 years old he spoke passionately and eloquently about the starving victims of Ireland's Great Famine.
Conkling married Julia Catherine Seymour, and was admitted to the bar in 1850. He went on to be a district attorney, and a member of both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.
|Roscoe Conkling from the collection of the New York Public Library|
|Ward represented Conkling speaking to the Senate, his thumb casually hooked into his pocket. The admittedly large base can be clearly seen. from the collection of the New-York Historical Society|
|An early postcard clearly shows the offensive tailoring.|