Sunset Cox, Irrepressible Democrat

Sunset Cox, Irrepressible Democrat

Sunset Cox, Irrepressible Democrat

Sunset Cox, Irrepressible Democrat

Excerpt

On December 16, 1857, the national House of Representatives convened for the first time in its newly- finished hall in the south wing of the nation's Capitol. For the first time, too, it listened to the powerful voice of Samuel Sullivan Cox, the thirty-three-year-old representative from Ohio. Older members, expecting the customary platitudes of another maiden speech, settled back in their chairs. But not for long, for the gentleman from Ohio was saying things that no freshman member had any business saying. He was defying the President of the United States and the leaders of the party he had helped to elect.

A little more than thirty years later, on January 15, 1889, Samuel Sullivan Cox, now representing a New York City district and approaching the end of his long career, delivered in the same hall what was to be virtually his last political utterance. Once again congressmen were surprised to hear him seek to persuade his party on the same subject he had discussed over thirty years before--freedom of choice by the citizens of a territory of the United States. In the 1857 speech the question that Cox argued was one of crucial importance to the country. By 1889, however, the question had dwindled to relative insignificance.

What had happened in the meantime to reduce the im-

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