Roscoe Conkling

On this date in 1882, President Chester A. Arthur nominated Roscoe Conkling to serve as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court for the seat being vacated by Justice Ward Hunt. Conkling was born on October 30, 1829 in Albany, NY to U.S. Congressman and future federal judge. After “reading the law” in Utica, N.Y., Conkling was admitted to the New York bar in 1850 and immediately appointed by N.Y. Governor Fish as district attorney of Oneida County. In 1852, Conkling returned to Utica, N.Y. where he was elected Mayor in 1858 and in that same year elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Conkling served in the U.S. House until March, 1863 when he was defeated for re-election. From 1863 to 1865, Conkling served as a judge advocate of the War Department investigating frauds in the recruiting service in western New York. In 1864, Conkling won back his old seat in the U.S. House of Representative where he served until March of 1867. Conkling was elected to be the U.S. Senator from the State of New York where he served from March, 1867 to May, 1881 when he resigned in protest over the appointment of federal appointees in New York. Interestingly, in 1873, President Ulysses Grant offered Conkling the position of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, but Conkling turned him down. After leaving the U.S. Senate, Conkling moved to New York City where he practiced law. When Arthur offered the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1882, Conkling accepted and following his nomination he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but Conkling refused to serve. Conkling is the last person to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the United States Supreme Court but refuse to serve. Justice Samuel Blatchford would ultimately be nominated and confirmed for the position Conkling turned down. Conkling continued in private law practice in New York City. In 1888, Conkling walked home during the Great Blizzard of 1888 and became seriously ill. As a result of this illness, Conkling died on April 18, 1888 in New York City, NY at age 58.