CONKLING, ROSCOE (1829-1888), American lawyer and political leader, was born in Albany, N.Y., on Oct. 3o, 1829. He was the son of Alfred Conkling (1789-1874), who was a represent ative in Congress from New York in 1821-23, a Federal dis trict judge in 1825-52, and U.S. minister to Mexico in Roscoe Conkling was admitted to the bar at Utica, N.Y., in 185o, was appointed district attorney of Oneida county in the same year, and soon attained success in the practice of his profession. At first a Whig, he joined the Republican Party at its formation, and was a Republican representative in Congress from 1859 to 1863. He refused to follow the financial policy of his party in 1862, and de livered a notable speech against the passage of the Legal Tender Act. In 1863 he resumed the practice of law, and in April 1865 was appointed a special judge advocate by the secretary of war. He was again a representative in Congress from Dec. 1865 until 1867, when he entered the Senate. After the war he allied him self with the radical wing of his party, was a member of the joint committee that outlined the congressional plan of reconstructing the late Confederate States, and laboured for the impeachment of President Johnson. During President Grant's administration he i was a member of the senatorial coterie that influenced most of the president's policies. In the Republican national convention of 1876 Conkling sought nomination for the presidency, and after the disputed election of this year he took a prominent part in devising and securing the passage of a bill creating an electoral commission. In 188o he was one of the leaders of the unsuccessful movement to nominate Grant for a third presidential term. With Grant's successors, Hayes and Garfield, his relations were not cordial; an opponent of civil service reform, he came into conflict with President Hayes over the removal of Chester A. Arthur and other federal officeholders in New York; and when in 1881 Presi dent Garfield, without consulting him, appointed William H. Rob ertson, a political opponent of Conkling, as collector of the port of New York, and when this appointment was confirmed by the Senate in spite of Conkling's opposition, Conkling and his asso ciate senator from New York, Thomas C. Platt, resigned their seats in the Senate and sought re-election as a personal vindica tion. Being unsuccessful, Conkling took up the practice of law in New York city.
While in public life Conkling always attracted attention by his abilities, his keenness and eloquence in debate, his aggressive lead ership and his striking personality. Though always a strenuous worker in Congress, he was not the originator of any great legis lative measures, and his efficiency as a law-maker is thought to have been much impaired by his personal animosities. His hostil ity to James G. Blaine, a fellow Republican senator, was especially marked. He died in New York city on April 18, 1888.
See A. R. Conkling (ed.), The Life and Letters of Roscoe Conkling (1889) ; James Barnet Fry, The Conkling and Blaine-Fry Con troversy in 1866 (1893) ; George S. •Boutwell, "Blaine and Conkling and the Republican Convention of 188o," in McClure's Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 281-286 (1900) ; Venila Lovina Shores, "The Hayes Conkling Controversy, 1877-79," in Smith College Studies in History, vol. iv., No. 4 (1919) .