Samuel S. Cox

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"New Use For Our Minister to Turkey" Coxturkey.jpg
"New Use For Our Minister to Turkey"

In 1884, New York Governor Grover Cleveland was elected President, the first Democrat since Buchanan. In May 1885, Cleveland nominated Cox as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Cox resigned his seat to accept appointment, citing the frantic pace of Congress and his continued minor role. [57] Before departing for Constantinople, he published a second memoir, Three Decades of Federal Legislation. [58]

Arriving in Constantinople on August 1, Cox was received by the Sultan's Foreign Minister. Cox spent much of his time touring the eastern Mediterranean, including the Nile River and Princes' Islands. [59]

Return to Congress

After serving for a year as Minister, Cox resigned in 1886, citing homesickness and a desire to return to domestic politics. He ran for Congress to fill the vacant seat left by Joseph Pulitzer, once again representing the Lower East Side (specifically the area known today as Alphabet City). He had, once again, missed a minimal amount of Congressional service, and Representative Cummings claimed that Cox was thus the first man elected twice to the same Congress (the 49th). [60]

During his last term, he was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and once again served as chair of the Census Committee. He actively supported measures to irrigate the western United States, drawing on desert aridity he had witnessed as Minister. [61] He broke with his party in supporting the annexation of new Western states in 1889. [62]

In 1888, Cox declined to run for Mayor of New York. [63] He ran instead for Congress and won. However, he died before the 51st Congress met.

Politics and legacy


Cox was an advocate against the persecution of the Jews worldwide and in Russia and Germany in particular [64] and of the Irish, working to free Irish prisoners of England. [65] He advocated for the annexation of Cuba as early as 1859. [66]

He was a backer of the Life Saving Service, later merged into the United States Coast Guard. He was also known as the "letter carriers' friend" because of his support for paid benefits and a 40-hour work week for U.S. Post Office employees. In 1891, grateful postal workers raised $10,000 to erect a statue of Cox by sculptor Louise Lawson in New York City. It was originally placed near his home on East 12th Street but was later moved to its present location in Tompkins Square Park. It depicts Cox orating and has been criticized as a poor likeness. [67] [68] The statue became controversial in 2020. [69]

Cox wrote several books including Why We Laugh,A Buckeye Abroad (1852), Eight years in Congress, from 1857 to 1865 (1865) and Three Decades of Federal Legislation, 1855-1885 (1885). His colleagues appreciated him most for his ready sense of humor, usually gentle rather than cutting. Indeed, some of them thought that his joking quality may have kept him from becoming Speaker of the House, because, for all his hard work and studious habits, he was not taken seriously. "In his political action he seemed more anxious to annoy his opponents than to extinguish them," Congressman George S. Boutwell of Massachusetts wrote, in a typical dismissal. "His speeches were short, pointed and entertaining. He was a favorite with the House, but his influence upon its action was very slight. Those who acquire and retain power are the earnest and persistent men. When Cox had made his speech and expended his jokes he was content. The fate of a measure did not much disturb or even concern him." [70] Cox once whimsically suggested that those supporting a high protective tariff duty on foreign coal should likewise lay a heavy duty on the sun, as a dangerous competitor in warming people up.[ citation needed ]

Others who served longer with him realized that Cox also had the grit and parliamentary skill to make a formidable adversary in debate. Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed said, "in action he was a whole skirmish line, and has covered more movements of the Democratic party, and led it out of more parliamentary pitfalls than any of its orators and all its leaders put together." [71]

Personal life

Cox married Julia A. Buckingham on October 11, 1849. The two first met aboard a stage coach on Cox's way to Brown and became reacquainted upon his return to Zanesville as a lawyer. They honeymooned in Europe from May to September 1851 and saw the Great Exhibition. [72] Julia wrote many of his speeches. [73]

Cox's nickname "Sunset" came from a florid description of the sunset he wrote as a young editor at the Ohio Statesman, on May 19, 1853. The sobriquet was used by some to insinuate Cox was a chronic exaggerator. [74] James H. Baker, then the editor of the Scioto Gazette, a Whig newspaper in Chillicothe, gave him the title "by reason of a highly wrought and sophomoric editorial on a flaming sunset after a great storm." [75]

Cox was an avid traveler and kept detailed accounts of his trips abroad.


The isles of the Princes; or, The pleasures of Prinkipo The isles of the Princes; or, The pleasures of Prinkipo (IA islesofprincesor00coxsrich).pdf
The isles of the Princes; or, The pleasures of Prinkipo

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress document: "COX, Samuel Sullivan, 1824-1889: Extended Bibliography".

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  1. Cox, pp. 10–11.
  2. 1 2 Powell, p. 355.
  3. Cox, pp. 11–13.
  4. Cox, pp. 14–16.
  5. Cox, p. 17.
  6. Cox, p. 21.
  7. Cox, p. 29.
  8. Cox, p. 24.
  9. Cox, pp. 33–34.
  10. Cox, p. 30–31.
  11. Cox, p. 38.
  12. Cox, p. 39.
  13. Cox, pp. 40–44.
  14. Cox, pp. 46–51.
  15. Cox, pp. 50–52.
  16. Cox, p. 51.
  17. Cox, pp. 51–58.
  18. Cox, p. 60.
  19. 1 2 Cox, p. 62.
  20. 1 2 Cox, p. 70.
  21. Cox, p. 71.
  22. Cox, pp. 76–77.
  23. Cox, p. 77.
  24. Cox, pp. 78–79.
  25. Cox, p. 80.
  26. Cox, pp. 80–83.
  27. Cox, p. 84.
  28. Cox, p. 86.
  29. Cox, p. 87.
  30. 1 2 Cox, p. 89.
  31. Cox, p. 88.
  32. Cox, pp. 89–90.
  33. Cox, p. 91.
  34. New York World, October 2, 1872
  35. Guilford, Gwynn (November 28, 2016). "Fake news isn't a new problem in the US—it almost destroyed Abraham Lincoln". Quartz. Quartz (publication). Archived from the original on September 6, 2020. this miscegenation hoax still “damn near sank Lincoln that year”
  36. Cox, p. 93.
  37. Cox, pp. 94–95.
  38. 1 2 Cox, p. 98.
  39. Cox, p. 94.
  40. Cox, p. 96.
  41. Cox, p. 97.
  42. Cincinnati Enquirer, May 7, 1883
  43. Cox, p. 99.
  44. Cox, p. 100.
  45. Cox, p. 101.
  46. Cox, pp. 102–03.
  47. Cox, pp. 106–07.
  48. Cox, pp. 108–09.
  49. 1 2 Cox, p. 110.
  50. Cox, p. 111.
  51. Cox, p. 112–13.
  52. Cox, pp. 110–11.
  53. Cox, p. 118.
  54. Cox, pp. 121–23.
  55. Cox, p. 125.
  56. Cox, p. 127.
  57. Cox, pp. 128–29.
  58. Cox, p. 130.
  59. Cox, pp. 143–46.
  60. Cox, pp. 148–49.
  61. Cox, p. 150.
  62. Cox, p. 151.
  63. Cox, p. 149.
  64. Cox, pp. 177–80.
  65. Cox, pp. 171–76.
  66. Cox, p. 163.
  67. "Tompkins Square Park: Samuel Sullivan Cox". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website.
  68. Wirth, Carolyn. "Louise Lawson". To Work As a Sculptor, September 3, 2010.
  69. "Fate of Samuel Cox Statue in Tompkins Square Park Remains Uncertain". Bowery Boogie. August 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  70. George S. Boutwell, "Sixty Years in Public Affairs," volume 2, p. 8
  71. Lindsey, "Sunset Cox: Irrepressible Democrat," 266
  72. Cox, pp. 67–69.
  73. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 5, 1883
  74. Cox, pp. 71–75.
  75. Baker, James H. (1908). Minnesota Historical Society Collections, Lives of the Governors of Minnesota. Vol. 13. St. Paul. p. 67.


Samuel Sullivan "Sunset" Cox
Cox c. 1870s
Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
March 4, 1887 March 3, 1889