Early life and career
Alfred Conkling was born in Amagansett, East Hampton, Suffolk County, New York, the son of Benjamin Conkling and Esther Hand. He graduated from Union College in 1810. He was admitted to the bar in 1812, and practiced in Johnstown from 1812 to 1813, and in Canajoharie from 1813 to 1818. During this time he married Eliza Cockburn, and they had five children. From 1818 to 1821, Conkling was District Attorney of Montgomery County.
Federal government service
Conkling was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the 17th United States Congress, holding office from December 3, 1821, to March 3, 1823. Afterwards he resumed his private practice in the Albany area. On August 27, 1825, Conkling received a recess appointment from President John Quincy Adams to the seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York vacated by the death of Roger Skinner. Formally nominated on December 13, 1825, Conkling was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1825, and received his commission the same day.
Judge Conkling sat in Albany from 1825 until 1836 when he moved to Auburn, New York. On August 25, 1852 he resigned from the bench. Conkling was then appointed U.S. Minister to Mexico by President Millard Fillmore, and remained at this post until 1853.
Upon his return from Mexico, Conkling entered private practice in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended the Nebraska State Constitution Convention and served as the Chairman of the state's Republican Committee.
He returned to New York in 1861 to pursue literary endeavours. Several of his writings are listed in the biographical directory of the United States Congress. During this period he lived in Rochester, Geneseo and Utica. Judge Conkling died on February 5, 1874, in Utica.
A photograph of Judge Conkling hangs in the courtroom at the United States District Court in Utica, New York. He is interred at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica.
Among Conkling's five children, Frederick Augustus Conkling became a Republican U.S. Congressman from New York. Aurelian Conkling studied law and served as the Clerk of Court for the Northern District of New York in Buffalo until his death in May 1860. Eliza Conkling married Rev. Samuel Hanson Coxe, the son of abolitionist minister, author, and educator Samuel Hanson Cox. Margaret Cockburn Conkling (also known as Mrs. Steele; born 27 January 1814; died 1890) became an accomplished author, with works such as The American Gentleman's Guide To Politeness and Fashion, Memoirs of the Mother and Wife of Washington (Auburn, N. Y., 1851-1853), Isabel; or, Trials of the Heart and a translation of Florian's History of the Moors of Spain. Roscoe Conkling studied law and became a powerful United States Senator and Republican political boss from New York.
Conkling's grandson Alfred Conkling Coxe, Sr. also served as U.S. district court judge in the Northern District of New York, and later a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; Coxe's own son (Conkling's great-grandson) Alfred Conkling Coxe Jr. was a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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- United States Congress. "Alfred Conkling (id: C000679)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Alfred Conkling at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Conkling, Alfred". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
Nathan K. Hall
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 14th congressional district
Henry R. Storrs