Florence E. S. Knapp

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Florence E. S. Knapp in 1920

Florence Elizabeth Smith Knapp (March 25, 1875 – October 26, 1949) was an American politician who was the first woman elected to a state cabinet office in New York state.[1]


She was born March 25, 1875 in Syracuse, New York as Florence Elizabeth Smith. She was a descendant of Ebenezer Hancock, librarian of Harvard University and brother of John Hancock.[1]

She married Philip Schuyler Knapp (d. 1913).

In 1920, Syracuse University awarded her the honorary degree of Bachelor of Science in Education. She was a delegate to the 1920 Republican National Convention, and an alternate delegate to the 1924 Republican National Convention.

She was Secretary of State of New York from 1925 to 1926, elected in 1924. After leaving office, she was accused of maladministration, and resigned her post as Dean of the College of Home Economics at Syracuse University. In June 1928, she was convicted of grand larceny in office. During the taking of New York's 1925 census, Mrs. Knapp had put her stepdaughter's name on the payroll, then received the stepdaughter's checks herself, forged the endorsements, and spent the money on clothes.

She died at the Marcy State Hospital in Marcy, New York on October 26, 1949.[1]


She was the last Secretary of State of New York elected to the office. After the reorganisation of the state administration during the governorship of Al Smith, the office became appointive, and has remained so to date. She remained the only woman elected to a statewide office in New York for fifty years, until the election of Mary Anne Krupsak as Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1974.


Further reading[edit]

  • [1] Accusations in TIME Magazine on February 6, 1928
  • [2] Political Graveyard
  • [3] Her conviction in TIME Magazine on June 4, 1928
  • [4] Honorary Degrees, at Syracuse University
  • [5] List of delegates to RNC, in NYT on March 8, 1920

Political offices
Preceded by
James A. Hamilton
Secretary of State of New York
Succeeded by
Robert Moses