Alonzo B. Cornell

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Alonzo B. Cornell
Alonzo B. Cornell.jpg
27th Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1880 – December 31, 1882
LieutenantGeorge G. Hoskins
Preceded byLucius Robinson
Succeeded byGrover Cleveland
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the New York County, 11th district
In office
January 1, 1873 – December 31, 1873
Preceded byRush C. Hawkins
Succeeded byKnox McAfee
Personal details
Alonzo Barton Cornell

January 22, 1832
Ithaca, New York, U.S.
DiedOctober 15, 1904(1904-10-15) (aged 72)
Ithaca, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Ellen Augusta Covert
(m. 1852; her death 1893)

Esther Elizabeth Covert
(m. 1894; his death 1904)
ParentsEzra Cornell
Mary Ann Wood Cornell
ProfessionPolitician, Businessman

Alonzo Barton Cornell (January 22, 1832 – October 15, 1904) was a New York politician and businessman who served as 27th Governor of New York from 1880 to 1882.[1]

Early years[edit]

Cornell was born in Ithaca, New York on January 22, 1832. He was the eldest son of Ezra Cornell (1807–1874), the founder of Cornell University and Mary Ann (née Wood) Cornell (1811–1891). Among his siblings was brother Franklin C. Cornell.[2]

He was educated and graduated from the Ithaca Academy.[1]


At the age of fifteen, he began a career in the field of telegraphy, later serving as a manager in a telegraph office in Cleveland, Ohio. Afterwards, he owned steamboats on Cayuga Lake from 1862 to 1863. From 1864 to 1869 he was a cashier and vice president of the First National Bank of Ithaca. He was a director of the Western Union Telegraph Company, which had been co-founded by his father, from 1868 to 1876 and was its vice president from 1870 to 1876.[3]

He was town supervisor of Ithaca in 1864-5. From 1858 until 1866, he served as chairman of the Tompkins County Republican committee, and in 1866-7 was a member of the Republican state committee. He was one of the first commissioners for the erection of the new state capitol at Albany from 1868 until 1871. He was the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1868, but was defeated by Democrat Allen C. Beach. He was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as Surveyor of the Port of New York.[3]

Cartoon depicting the battle between Cornell and the Tammany Hall machine

From 1870 to 1878 he was chairman of the state Republican Party. He resigned his position as Surveyor of the Port of New York to become a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 11th D.) in 1873, and was elected Speaker, one of the very few times a first-term member was chosen. He was influential at the 1876 Republican National Convention which nominated Rutherford B. Hayes. In January 1877, he was appointed naval officer of the Port of New York by Grant.[3]

Hayes, upon becoming president, directed the Treasury Department to notify Cornell that he must resign from the state and national Republican committees as a condition of remaining naval officer. Regarding this as an invasion of his civil and political rights, Cornell declined to obey the mandate, whereupon a successor was nominated, but was rejected by the Senate. After the adjournment of the Senate in July 1878, Hayes suspended both the collector (Chester A. Arthur) and the naval officer, and their successors were finally confirmed. At the subsequent elections, Cornell was chosen Governor of New York and Arthur became Vice President of the United States.[3]

Cornell was governor from 1880 to 1882, elected in 1879. His administration was noted for economy in public expenditures, and his vetoes of appropriation bills were beyond all precedent. Upon his recommendation, a state board of health and the state railroad commission were created, women were made eligible for school officers, a reformatory for women established, and the usury laws were modified.[3]

The resignation of the New York senators from the U. S. Senate in 1881 provoked a bitter contest for the succession, by which the Republican Party was divided into hostile factions, the Stalwarts and the Half Breeds. Cornell's opponents prevented his re-nomination for governor.

Later life[edit]

During his latter years, Cornell lived in New York City, where he had a mansion built in the 1870s at 616 Fifth Avenue on the west side of the avenue between 49th and 50th Streets,[4] and wrote a biography of his father in 1884.[5]

Personal life[edit]

On November 9, 1852, Cornell was married to Ellen Augusta Covert (1834–1893). She was the daughter of George P. Covert, a lifelong friend of his father, and Esther Elizabeth (née Bassett) Covert. Together, they were the parents of:[5]

  • Charles Ezra Cornell (1855–1947), a lawyer who married Katharine Lawyer Bouck, a granddaughter of New York Governor William C. Bouck.[6]
  • Edwin Morgan Cornell (1862–1870), who died young.
  • Henry Watson Cornell (1866–1932), a lawyer who married Margaret Feek Bouck (b. 1870), also a granddaughter of New York Governor William C. Bouck.[7]
  • Marguerite Cornell, who married Arnoud Jacob Joris Van der Does de Bye,[8] a professor who was the son of Dutch count, in 1909.[9]
  • Roscoe Conkling Cornell, the circulation manager of the Herald and The San Francisco Examiner[10] who married Nelle Edith Beyerle.[11]

After the death of his first wife in 1893, he remarried on June 8, 1894 to her younger sister, Esther Elizabeth Covert (1839–1923), a native of Auburn, New York.

After suffering a stroke of apoplexy followed by Bright's disease in August 1904,[12] Cornell died on October 15, 1904 in Ithaca, New York, aged 72.[1] He was interred with his father and mother in Sage Chapel on the Cornell University campus.[13]


Cornell's papers are held in Cornell University Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "EX-GOV. CORNELL DEAD.; Started as a Telegraph Operator -- Chief Executive 1880-82" (PDF). The New York Times. October 16, 1904. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  2. ^ "F. C. CORNELL DROPS DEAD.; Son of Founder of Cornell University Dies at Breakfast Table" (PDF). The New York Times. January 23, 1908. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Wilson & Fiske 1900.
  4. ^ "THE REAL ESTATE FIELD Former Alonzo B. Cornell Mansion on Fifth Avenue Sold by the Butterfield Estate — Banker Buys Site for New Residence — The Cleburne Apartment in a $1,250,000 Deal — Operators Increase Their Holdings on Washington Heights" (PDF). The New York Times. March 31, 1914. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b Cornell, Alonzo B. (1884). "True and firm." Biography of Ezra Cornell, Founder of the Cornell University. New York: A. S. Barnes & Company. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  6. ^ "C. E. CORNELL DEAD; A RETIRED LAWYER; Grandson of University Founder Was Son of Ex-Governor -- Had Practiced Here" (PDF). The New York Times. January 31, 1947. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  7. ^ "HENRY W. CORNELL, EDITOR, DEAD AT 65; Son of Former Governor of New York and Grandson of Cornell University's Founder. | HAD PRACTICED AS LAWYER | Was Editorial Writer on New Haven Register--Widow a Granddaughter at Former Governor Bouck" (PDF). The New York Times. March 15, 1932. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  8. ^ The Cornellian. Secret Societies of Cornell University. 1914. p. 53. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  9. ^ "MISS CORNELL TO WED. Ex-Governor's Daughter to Become Bride of A.J.J. Van der Does de Bye" (PDF). The New York Times. April 12, 1909. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  10. ^ "JURORS HEAR NEWS WRITERS IN LINGLE QUIZ | Reporter Says He 'Hoaxed' St. Louis Scribe With Stories of Racketeering Journalists". The San Francisco Examiner. July 25, 1930. p. 5. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  11. ^ University, Indiana (1917). Register of Graduates. The University. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Ex-Gov. Cornell in Critical Condition" (PDF). The New York Times. August 30, 1904. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  13. ^ "CORNELL TABLET UNVEILED. Memorial to Late Governer Erected in Chapel on Campus" (PDF). The New York Times. March 13, 1905. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Guide to the Alonzo B. Cornell papers,1830-1904". rmc.library.cornell.edu. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections - Cornell University Library. Retrieved 10 October 2018.


External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Rush C. Hawkins
New York State Assembly
New York County, 11th District

Succeeded by
Knox McAfee
Preceded by
Henry Smith
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
James W. Husted
Political offices
Preceded by
Lucius Robinson
Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Grover Cleveland
Party political offices
Preceded by
Hamilton Harris
Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee
Succeeded by
Edwin D. Morgan
Preceded by
Edwin D. Morgan
Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee
Succeeded by
John F. Smyth
Preceded by
John F. Smyth
Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee
Succeeded by
Chester A. Arthur