Roscoe Conkling was a Senator best known for leading the "Stalwart" faction of the Republican Party during the late 1800s.
Despite being a powerful and intimidating force in politics, many people disliked Conkling for his womanizing and philandering.
Roscoe Conkling was born in 1829, in Albany, New York. Roscoe Conkling started studying law at age 17 and was admitted to the American Bar Association in 1850 and that same year was appointed district attorney of Oneida County. In 1858, he was elected mayor of Utica and a year later was elected to the House of Representatives. Conkling was a member of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction and helped draft the 14th Amendment. In 1867, Conkling was elected to the Senate where he became a leading voice in the Republican Party for the Stalwart faction. Conkling was offered the position of Cheif Justice of the Supreme Court by President Grant, but denied it and continued to frame legislation for Reconstruction in Congress. Conkling was heavily involved in providing civil service jobs based on party affiliation rather then merit, which created a Republican dominated state machine in New York. President Hayes managed to remove some of Conkling's supporters from office, despite fierce opposition. Conkling attempted to have Grant nominated for a third term to President since he supported the Stalwarts. James Blaine was the candidate selected by the "Half-Breeds", the rival faction of the Stalwarts that wanted Civil Service Reform. In the end they settled on nominating James Garfield, a Half-Breed, for President, and Chester Arthur, a Stalwart, for Vice President. When Garfield was assasinated and Chester Arthur made President, many thought Conkling and the Stalwarts would take over the White House. Arthur suprisingly turned his back on the Stalwarts and pushed through Civil Service Reform, ending the Stalwarts power. Conkling resigned in protest and returned to law until he died in 1888.