Alexander Pirnie

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Alexander Pirnie, Congressman from New York
Representative Pirnie drawing the first number.

Alexander Pirnie (April 16, 1903 – June 12, 1982) was an American Congressman from New York.


Pirnie was born in Pulaski, New York on April 16, 1903. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell University in 1924 and 1926, and was also a member of the Quill and Dagger Society. After attaining admission to the bar Pirnie practiced law in Utica, New York.

In 1924 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the Officers Reserve Corps. He served in Europe during World War II and received the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal before retiring as a Colonel.

In 1958 Pirnie was a successful Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives. He served six terms, 1959 to 1973. While in Congress, Pirnie was the ranking Republican member of the subcommittee that oversaw the 1969 draft for the Vietnam war. In this capacity he drew the first of the 366 capsules used to determine draft eligibility.

(The capsules contained birth dates from January 1 to December 31, including February 29, and individuals born on those days were subject to the draft based on the order in which their birth dates were drawn. The first capsule contained the date September 14, so those born on September 14th were assigned draft number 1. The last capsule drawn was June 8, and those born on that date were assigned draft number 366.)

Pirnie was a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union from 1965 to 1982. After leaving Congress he practiced law in Utica and was President of a Mohawk, New York clothing company from 1977 to 1980.

In retirement Pirnie resided in Utica. He died in Canastota, New York on June 12, 1982. Pirnie was found behind the wheel of his car on the side of the road, and authorities presumed he had a heart attack and died while diving. He was buried in Pulaski Village Cemetery.

The federal office building in Utica is named for Pirnie.

From 1964 until Pirnie's retirement, Sherwood Boehlert served on his Congressional staff. Boehlert later served as Oneida County Executive, and was a Member of Congress from 1983 to 2007.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William R. Williams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 34th congressional district

Succeeded by
R. Walter Riehlman
Preceded by
Samuel S. Stratton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 32nd congressional district

Succeeded by
James M. Hanley