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Roscoe Conkling

Roscoe Conkling (October 30, 1829April 18, 1888) was a lawyer and politician from New York who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party, the first Republican senator from New York to be elected for three terms, and the last person to turn down a U.S. Supreme Court appointment after he had already been confirmed to the post. While in the House, Conkling served as bodyguard for Representative Thaddeus Stevens, a sharp-tongued anti-slavery representative, and fully supported the Republican war effort. Conkling, who was temperate and detested tobacco, was known for his physical condition, maintained through regular exercise and boxing, an unusual devotion for his time. Conkling was elected to the Senate in 1867 as a leading Radical, who supported the rights of African Americans during Reconstruction.

As leader of the Stalwarts, Conkling controlled patronage at the New York Customs House. Although Conkling was supported by President Ulysses S. Grant, Conkling did not support Grant's Civil Service Commission reform initiative. Conkling also refused to accept Grant's nomination of him as Chief Justice of the United States, believing his talents belonged in the Senate. The control over patronage led to a bitter conflict between Conkling and President Rutherford B. Hayes. Conkling also opposed Hayes's appointment of William M. Evarts as Secretary of State. Conkling publicly led opposition to Hayes's attempt to impose Civil Service Reform on the New York Customs House. In 1880, Conkling supported Grant for President; however, James A. Garfield was nominated and elected President. Conkling's conflict with Garfield over New York Customs House patronage led to his resignation from the Senate in May 1881. Upon Garfield's assassination in 1881, Vice President Chester A. Arthur became President. When he offered his friend Conkling an associate justiceship on the Supreme Court, Conkling accepted the offer and was confirmed by the Senate. However, Conkling changed his mind and refused to serve, the last person (as of 2020) to have done so. He practiced law in New York until his death in 1888. Provided by Wikipedia