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Samuel Sullivan "Sunset" Cox (September 30, 1824, Zanesville, Ohio – September 10, 1889, New York City) was an American Congressman and diplomat. He represented both Ohio and New York in the United States House of Representatives, and also served as United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
Cox was the grandson of New Jersey Congressman James Cox. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Samuel Sullivan, who was Ohio State Treasurer in 1820–1823. Cox attended Ohio University and Brown University, graduating from Brown in 1846. He practiced law in Zanesville and became the owner and editor of the Ohio Statesman, a newspaper in Columbus, Ohio. In 1855, he was secretary of the U.S. legation to Peru.
Cox was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1856, and served three terms representing Ohio's 12th congressional district and one representing the 7th district. After giving an impassioned speech in 1864 denouncing Republicans for allegedly supporting miscegenation (see miscegenation hoax), he was defeated for reelection and moved to New York City, where he resumed law practice.
"As slavery was already dead by the bullet, I figured it would be better to stop the bloodshed," he told a crowd seven years later. That mattered more than "the mere empty, abstract ceremonial of burying the dead corpse of slavery."
He returned to Congress after winning election in 1868 to New York's 6th congressional district. He served two terms, was defeated by Lyman Tremain in the New York state election, 1872, running for Congress at-large on the state ticket, but was elected to the vacant Congressional seat of the late James Brooks in 1873. Cox was then re-elected six times.
In May 1885, Cox resigned his Congressional seat to accept appointment by President Grover Cleveland as U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, succeeding Lew Wallace. After serving for a year as Ambassador, he ran for Congress yet again, in a special election to fill the term of Joseph Pulitzer, who had resigned his seat; Cox was once again elected and served from the lower west side of Manhattan until his death on September 10, 1889. During his last term, he was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Politics and legacy
Tammany Hall elected Cox to Congress in New York, and it kept him there, but he was never part of the stealing. "Mr. Cox is ... almost the only honest man I know who passed through a portion of the Tweed Ring period," another politician said later.
Cox was a supporter of civil service reform and westward expansion. In 1858, he was one of the Democrats who broke with the Buchanan White House and opposed admitting Kansas as a state under the Lecompton Constitution. Later, he became a powerful critic of high tariffs — a stand that played well with his merchant constituents in a leading commercial city — and a supporter of railroad regulation. Whimsically, he suggested that those keeping the high tariff duty on coal should lay a heavy duty on the sun, as a dangerous competitor in warming people up.
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 gratitude, postal workers raised $10,000 in 1891 to erect a memorial statue to Cox in New York City. Made by sculptor Louise Lawson, 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.
He was known as an eloquent public speaker, though his wife wrote many of his speeches. His nickname "Sunset" came from a particularly florid description of a sunset in an article in the Ohio Statesman. 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."
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."
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."
- Cox, Samuel S. (1859) [Orig. pub. New-York: G. P. Putnam, 1852]. A Buckeye abroad; or, Wanderings in Europe, and in the Orient. Columbus: Follett, Foster and Co.
- — (1852). The scholar, as the true progressive and conservative: illustrated in the life of Hugo Grotius, and by the law of nations. An address delivered before the Athenian literary society of the Ohio University, August 3, 1852. Columbus: Printed by Scott & Bascom.
- — (1857). Lecompton constitution of Kansas. Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of Ohio, on the President’s message. Delivered in the House of Representatives, December 16, 1857. [Washington]: Printed by Lemuel Towers.
- — (1859). Ohio politics. Cox after Giddings. "Father Giddings" dodges under the bush with his colored friend. [Washington]: [Printed by L. Towers].
- — (1859). Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox, of Ohio, on territorial expansion. Delivered in the House of Representatives, January 18, 1859. Washington: Printed by L. Towers.
- — (1859). Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox, of Ohio, in reply to Hon. Thomas Corwin, on the election of speaker. Delivered in the House of Representatives, December 8, 1959. Washington: Printed by L. Towers.
- — (1861). Conciliation and nationality!. [Washington]: [Printed by L. Towers].
- — (1861). Northern nullifiers. Reply of Hon. S. S. Cox, of Ohio, in reply to Messrs. Hutchins and Stanton. Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 9, 1861. [Washington]: [Printed by L. Towers].
- — (1862). Eulogy of Hon. Stephen Arnold Douglas, one of the regents of the Smithsonian Institution. Prepared at the request of the board, by Hon. Samuel S. Cox ... May, 1862. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution.
- — (1862). Emancipation and its results—is Ohio to be Africanized? Speech of Hon. S.S. Cox, of Ohio. Delivered in the House of Representatives, June 6, 1862. [Washington]: [L. Towers & Co., Printers].
- — (c. 1862). Meaning of the elections of 1862. Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox, of Ohio. Delivered in the House of Representatives, December 15, 1862. [Washington]: [L. Towers & Co., printers].
- — (1862). Speech of Hon. S.S. Cox, of Ohio, in vindication of Gen. McClellan from the attacks of congressional war critics. [Washington, D.C.]: [Towers & Co., printers].
- — (1863). Puritanism in politics. Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox, of Ohio, before the Democratic Union Association, January 13, 1863. New York: Van Evrie, Horton & co.
- — (1863). The conscription bill. Speech of Hon. S.S. Cox, of Ohio. Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 26, 1863. [Washington]: [Towers, Print.]
- — (1864). Free debate in Congress threatened—abolition leaders and their revolutionary schemes unmasked. Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of Ohio, delivered in the House of Representatives, April 6, 1864. [Washington].
- — (1865). The cabinet in Congress. Speeches of Hon. S.S. Cox, of Ohio, on the joint resolution to admit the cabinet into the House of Representatives, for debate, etc. Delivered in the House of Representatives, January 26, 1865. [Washington].
- — (1865). Eight years in Congress, from 1857 to 1865. New York: D. Appleton and Company.
- — (1866). Speech of Hon., S. S. Cox, before the Johnson Union Club of the 6th Congressional District, New York, on the 9th of August, 1866. [New York].
- — (1870). Dedicated to the workingman!. [Washington]: [The National Democratic Executive Resident Committee].
- — (1870). Dem arbeiterstand gewidmet. [Washington]: [Demokratisches executiv-committee in Washington].
- — (1872). Bleeding—not health. Washington: F. & J. Rives & G. A. Bailey.
- — (1872). Grant of Greeley? Speech of S. S. Cox, of New-York city, in the issues of the presidential campaign of 1872. New-York: S. W. Green, printer.
- — (1872). Negotiation of loan—The syndiacate—what is it?. [Washington]: [Printed at the Congressional Globe Office].
- — (1874). Economy—education—mized schools. Washington: Government Printing Office.
- — (1874). The folly and cost of diplomacy. Washington.
- — (1874). Gold and good faith; paper money and panic. Washington: Government Printing Office.
- — (1875). Punishment or pardon; force or freedom, for the wasted land. Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox, of New York, in the House of Representatives, Saturday, February 27, 1875, on the bill (H. R. no. 4745) to provide against the invasion of states, to prevent the subversion of their authority, and to maintain the security of elections; the sections of which provide penalties of fine and imprisonment, suspension of habeas corpus, appointment of federal election supervisors in the Congressional districts, etc. Washington: Government Printing Office.
- — (1875). Tax and tariff. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1876). Amnesty and the Jefferson Davis amendment. Washington: Government Printing Office.
- — (1876). Beauties of diplomacy. Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of New York, in the House of Representatives, February 9, 1876. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1876). Key to the dead lock. Speech of Hon, Samuel S. Cox, of New York, in the House of Representatives. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1876). The organization of the House;—who defend the administration?. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1876). Protection to American citizens abroad—Germans and Irish—parties and platforms. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1969) [Orig. pub. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1876]. Why we laugh. New York: B. Blom.
- — (1877). De jure and de facto: long talk of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, at Tammany Hall, New York City, July 4, 1877. New York: The National Printing Co.
- — (1877). Expositions exposed. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1878). Life: —its perils and slavation. Washington: R. O. Polkinhorn, printer.
- — (1878). The Monmouth Centennial [microform]: Oration of Hon. S.S. Cox. Freehold, N.J.: Monmouth Democrat.
- — (1878). Pretense—and practice. Can fraud reform the civil service?. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1879). Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox on the federal census. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1880). Free land and free trade. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- — (1880). Liberalities of trade—consular and diplomatic relations. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1880). Search for winter sunbeams in the Riviera, Corsica, Algiers, and Spain. New York: D. Appleton & Company.
- — (1882). Arctic sunbeams: or, From Broadway to the Bosphorus, by way of the North Cape. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- — (1977) [Orig. pub. New York: Putnam, 1882]. Orient sunbeams : Or, From the porte to the Pyramids by way of Palestine. New York: Arno Press.
- — (1883). Memorial eulogies delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, by Samuel S. Cox, 1861-1883. Washington: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1884). The test oath—its repeal. Speech of Hon. S. S. Cox. January 21, 1884. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1884). Our revenues and their treatment—wages and their causes—income and outgo ... Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of New York, in the House of Representatives, Thursday, March 20, 1884. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1884). Tariff and protection—protifs and wages—women-workers and infants—toilers in the factories—wealth and poverty ... Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of New York, in the House of Representatives, Friday, May 2, 1884. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1884). Address of Hon. S. S. Cox, to Congress, on fish, May 12, 1884. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1884). Decay of integrity - Mortmain and monopoly - Land-trust and restitution - Progress and poverty - A time for reform. Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, in Tammany hall, July 4, 1884. [Washington]: [Government Printing Office].
- — (1885). Three Decades of Federal Legislation, 1855-1885. 2 vols. Providence: J. A. and R. A. Reid.
- — (1970) [Orig. pub. Washington, D.C.: J. M. Stoddart & Company, 1885]. Union—disunion—reunion. Three decades of Federal legislation, 1855 to 1885. Personal and historical memories of events preceding, during, and since the American Civil War, involving slavery and secession, emancipation and reconstruction, with sketches of prominent actors during these periods. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press.
- — (1887). Diversions of a diplomat in Turkey. New York: C. L. Webster & Co.
- — (1887). The isles of the Princes. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- — (1889). Address of Hon. Samuel Sullivan Cox on the parliamentary heroes of Ireland. New York: Metropolitan Job Print.
- — (1889). Address of Hon. Samuel S. Cox ... at Huron, Dakota, July 4. 1889. New York: Metropolitan Job Print.
- — (1889). Division of Dakota. Washington.
This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress document "COX, Samuel Sullivan, 1824-1889: Extended Bibliography".
- Powell, Thomas Edward, ed. (1913). The Democratic party of the state of Ohio: a comprehensive history. 2. The Ohio Publishing Company. p. 355.
- New York World, October 2, 1872
- Cincinnati Enquirer, May 7, 1883
- "Tompkins Square Park: Samuel Sullivan Cox". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website.
- Wirth, Carolyn. "Louise Lawson". To Work As a Sculptor, Sept. 3, 2010.
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 5, 1883
- Baker, James H. (1908). Minnesota Historical Society Collections, Lives of the Governors of Minnesota. 13. St. Paul. p. 67.
- George S. Boutwell, "Sixty Years in Public Affairs," volume 2, p. 8
- Lindsey, "Sunset Cox: Irrepressible Democrat," 266
- United States Congress. "Samuel S. Cox (id: C000839)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- New York City Parks & Recreation page for Cox statue
- Museum of Hoaxes, "The Miscegenation Hoax"
- "Samuel Sullivan Cox: His Famous Word Picture". Ohio History. 19: 331. 1910. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
- Columbia Encyclopedia entry
- Sutor, J. Hope (1905). Past and Present of the City of Zanesville and Muskingham County, Ohio. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. p. 238.
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