Portrait of Samuel Cox

While the owner of the Ohio Statesman, Samuel Cox acquired the lifelong nickname of Samuel “Sunset” Cox after publishing a picturesque description of a sunset in 1853. [Wikimedia Commons]

Samuel Sullivan Cox - Facts

September 30, 1824 - September 10, 1889

Key facts about Samuel Cox, a prominent lawyer, newspaper editor, and Peace Democrat who represented Ohio and, later, New York in Congress.

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Full Name:

  • Samuel Sullivan Cox

Birth Date:

  • September 30, 1824

Birth Location:

  • Zanesville, Ohio

Parents:

  • Ezekiel Taylor Cox and Maria Matilda (Sullivan) Cox

Education:

  • Ohio University
  • Brown University (1846)

Occupation:

  • Lawyer
  • Newspaper publisher
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Congressman
  • Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Turkey

Spouse:

  • Julia A. Buckingham (1849)

Nickname(s):

  • Sunset

Place of Death:

  • New York City

Date of Death:

  • September 10, 1889

Place of Burial:

  • Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Significance:

  • Samuel Cox was the grandson of Revolutionary War General James Cox.
  • Samuel Cox was the second son of Ezekiel Taylor Cox and Maria Matilda Sullivan.
  • Samuel Cox’s father moved to Ohio as a young man where he became an influential newspaper owner, clerk of the court of common pleas, Muskingum County recorder, clerk of the Ohio Supreme Court, and an Ohio state senator.
  • Samuel Cox was an exceptionally bright student at the Zanesville village school. As an older student, he attended the Zanesville Academy to prepare for admission to the Ohio University.
  • In 1842, Samuel Cox entered Ohio University, where he excelled as a student. Two years later, Cox transferred to Brown University where he studied law and graduated with honors in 1846.
  • After graduating from college, Samuel Cox continued his legal studies under several local luminaries, including future Ohio Governor George Hoadley.
  • Upon being admitted to the Ohio bar, Samuel Cox formed a partnership in Cincinnati with former U.S. Senator George E. Pugh.
  • On October 11, 1849, Samuel Cox married Julia A. Buckingham, at Zanesville.
  • In 1852, Samuel Cox purchased a controlling interest in Samuel Medary’s influential Democratic the Ohio Statesman, published in Columbus.
  • While the owner of the Ohio Statesman, Samuel Cox acquired the lifelong nickname of Samuel “Sunset” Cox after publishing a picturesque description of a sunset in 1853.
  • In 1855, President Franklin Pierce appointed Samuel Cox as secretary of the legation at Lima, Peru. Soon after his departure, however, illness forced Cox to return to the United States, and resign his position.
  • In 1846, Samuel Cox began a long tenure as a member of the Democratic Party in the United States Congress, when voters of Ohio’s 12th Congressional District elected Cox to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • On March 4, 1857, Cox took his oath for the first of sixteen terms in the House representing Ohio and later, New York.
  • Samuel Cox served in Congress throughout most of the Civil War and was a moderate Peace Democrat. Although he opposed the war, he was not a peace-at-any-price Democrat.
  • While Samuel Cox’s views on the war were not as extreme as those of Copperheads such as fellow-Ohioan Clement Vallandigham, he did share their racial views. Cox opposed Lincoln’s decision to allow African-Americans to enlist in the Union army, and he voted against the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery.
  • Appealing to base racial prejudices, Samuel Cox delivered a speech on the House floor on February 17, 1864, warning white Northerners that abolitionists and radical Republicans were “moving steadily forward to perfect social equality of black and white, and can only end in this detestable doctrine of miscegenation.”
  • In the 1864 Congressional election, Republican candidate Samuel S. Shellabarger rode Lincoln’s coattails to victory in Ohio, unseating Samuel Cox in the House.
  • At the conclusion of his fourth term in Congress, on March 4, 1865, Samuel Cox moved to New York City and opened a law practice with Charlton T. Lewis.
  • In 1868, New York Democrats nominated Samuel Cox to represent the state’s sixth district in Congress and the voters elected him.
  • Samuel Cox served two consecutive terms before New York voters rejected him in the general election of 1872.
  • In 1872, Samuel Cox was named to temporarily fill a vacancy caused by the death of Representative James Brooks. A year later, New York voters chose him to fill Brooks’ seat in a special election. Cox subsequently served six more consecutive terms in the House.
  • In 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed Samuel Cox as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Turkey. Cox served overseas until October 22, 1886.
  • After Samuel Cox resigned as U.S. minister to Turkey, New York voters elected him to fill a Congressional vacancy caused by the resignation of Representative Joseph Pulitzer. Voters re-elected Cox to terms in the Fiftieth and Fifty-first Congresses.
  • During his long tenure in Congress, Samuel Cox is most remembered as a champion of the U.S. postal employees and for introducing legislation founding the Life Saving Service, which later became the U.S. Coast Guard.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Samuel Sullivan Cox - Facts
  • Coverage September 30, 1824 - September 10, 1889
  • Author
  • Keywords Samuel Sullivan Cox
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 28, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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