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Richard Cunningham McCormick

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Richard Cunningham McCormick

Richard Cunningham McCormick
2nd Governor of Arizona Territory
In office
March 14, 1866 – December 13, 1868
Nominated by Andrew Johnson
Preceded by John Noble Goodwin
Succeeded by Anson P.K. Safford
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona Territory
In office
March 4, 1869 – March 3, 1875
Preceded by Coles Bashford
Succeeded by Hiram Sanford Stevens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1897
Preceded by James W. Covert
Succeeded by Joseph M. Belford
1st Secretary of Arizona Territory
In office
December 29, 1863 – March 14, 1866
Nominated by Abraham Lincoln
Preceded by N/A (Newly created position)
Succeeded by James P. T. Carter
Personal details
Born (1832-05-23)May 23, 1832
New York City
Died June 2, 1901(1901-06-02) (aged 69)
New York City
Nationality American
Political party Unionist/Republican
Spouse(s) Margaret Hunt (1865–1867)
Elizabeth Thurman (1873 -)

Richard Cunningham McCormick, Jr. (May 23, 1832 – June 2, 1901) was an American politician, businessman, and journalist. He served as the second Governor of Arizona Territory, three time Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona Territory, and as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York. McCormick's other accomplishments include service as a war correspondent during two different conflicts and creation of two Arizonan newspapers.


  • Background 1
  • Arizona Territory 2
  • Territorial Delegate 3
  • Later life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


McCormick was born on May 23, 1832, in New York City to Richard Cunningham and Sarah Matilda (Decker) McCormick. The senior McCormick was Secretary of the New York merchants' exchange. The younger McCormick suffered from poor health and was educated at home by private tutors with the expectation he would attend Columbia University.[1] Instead of enrolling in college, he became ill and was sent to Europe under the Victorian belief that travel had curative power. In 1854, while still in Europe, McCormick became a war correspondent reporting on the Crimean War. Upon his return he wrote two books, A Visit to the Camp Before Sevastopol in 1855 and St. Paul's to St. Sophia in 1860.[2]

At the age of 25, the redheaded McCormick went to work on Wall Street.[3] Shortly thereafter he became the YMCA's corresponding secretary and edited Young Men's Magazine for two years. In 1860, at the request of William Cullen Bryant, he become editor of the New York Evening Post. At the start of American Civil War, McCormick went to the front lines as a war correspondent.[1]

Politically, McCormick was elected a public school trustee for New York's 15th ward in 1858. This was followed by his becoming a member of the Republican State Committee in 1860 and working on Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign.[4] In 1862, McCormick made an unsuccessful run for United States House of Representatives.[1] The same year he was appointed Chief Clerk for the Department of Agriculture.[4]

McCormick was married twice. The first time was to Margaret Grifiths Hunt of Rahway, New Jersey, on September 27, 1865.[5] The couple had met aboard a steamboat bound for New York City from Panama earlier the same year.[6] Margaret died on April 30, 1867, while giving birth to a stillborn child.[7] McCormick's second marriage was to Elizabeth Thurman, youngest daughter of Senator Allen G. Thurman, on November 11, 1873.[8]

Arizona Territory

McCormick was nominated to be Secretary of Arizona Territory by President Lincoln on March 7, 1863. Following confirmation, he journeyed with Governor Goodwin's party to the newly formed territory. McCormick took his oath of office on December 29, 1863, as part of the Navajo Springs ceremony that officially established Arizona Territory. As part of his official duties, he designed the territory's first official seal.[9]

Outside his official duties, McCormick began the Arizona Miner with a Ramage press he had brought with him. The newspaper's first edition was printed on March 9, 1864, at Fort Whipple and began regular operations in Prescott on June 22, 1864.[10] McCormick's control of the newspaper aided his political career by ensuring he could always receive favorable press coverage. The paper also provided a forum for McCormick to share his thoughts with the people of Arizona.[11] In 1868, following the territorial capital's move to Tucson, McCormick sold his property in Prescott and purchased an interest in the Weekly Arizonian.[12] His association with the Arizonian continued till October 1, 1870, when the paper's editor withdrew support for McCormick. McCormick's response was to repossess the paper's printing press and begin a new newspaper, the Arizona Citizen, on October 15, 1870.[13]

During his service within the territory, and later as Territorial Delegate, McCormick was a leader in Arizona Territory's "Federal Ring". This group was a coalition of territorial official and leading citizens that worked in a nonpartisan fashion to protect the lives and property of the territory's American population, establish law and order, and develop Arizona's economic potential. To achieve their goals, the clique crossed traditional political divides of the day, with Northern Republican governors appointing Southern Democrats and Hispanics to governmental positions.[14] The "Federal Ring" dominated territorial politics between 1863 and 1877 and, while labeled a self-perpetuating oligarchy by critics, succeeded in providing a territorial government that was generally free of corruption and dishonesty.[15]

After Governor Goodwin was elected Territorial Delegate and left for Washington in late 1865, Secretary McCormick became Acting Governor of Arizona Territory. He was officially appointed as Governor on March 14, 1866.[9] Among the chief issues McCormick faced were hostilities from Indian reservations.[16]

Economically, McCormick envisioned Arizona developing a mining based economy similar to California's. To attract economic capital, he advocated a laissez-faire tax policy.[17] McCormick also pushed for creation of the roads, railroads, telegraph lines, and postal routes needed for such an economy to function. He also asked Congress to acquire additional land from Mexico so that Arizona could have a port on the Gulf of California[18] To meet the need for food, the governor called for settlers and "tame" Indians to engage in farming.[19] To help protect the growing population from outlaws, McCormick asked the territorial legislation to create courthouses and jails.[20]

Territorial Delegate

McCormick announced his candidacy for Territorial delegate on March 12, 1868, with the election scheduled for June 3, 1868.[5] During his run, McCormick avoided normal party affiliations and instead ran as a nonpartisan candidate under the Unionist banner. The election centered on the issue of the territorial capital having been moved the prior year, with allegations circulated that McCormick had been promised support from Pima County if he signed the bill.[21] McCormick only won a single county during the election, Pima, but the margin was sufficient for him to be elected Territorial Delegate.[22]

Richard C. McCormick between 1860 and 1875.

McCormick left Arizona Territory on December 13, 1868 to journey to Washington D.C.[23] Upon his arrival in the Congress, McCormick's past acquaintances with influential people of the day allowed him to become unusually effective as a territorial delegate.[5] This influence allowed him to be chosen as chairman by the group of seven sitting territorial delegates in their efforts to obtain unified legislation in areas affecting United States territories.[24]

During his first term, McCormick's efforts were focused on the Apache Wars and establishment of additional postal routes within Arizona. Other areas he worked on included resolving land title issues involving the town of Prescott and having Arizona Territory declared a separate land district.[25] After a return to Arizona to campaign, McCormick won reelection for his second term on November 8, 1870.[26]

McCormick's second term was again focused on the Apache Wars. The delegate was at odds with President

Political offices
Preceded by
John Noble Goodwin
Governor of Arizona Territory
Succeeded by
Anson P.K. Safford
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Coles Bashford
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona Territory

Succeeded by
Hiram Sanford Stevens
Preceded by
James W. Covert
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Joseph M. Belford

External links

  • Goff, John S. (1978). Arizona Territorial Officials Volume II: The Governors 1863–1912. Cave Creek, Arizona: Black Mountain Press.  
  • —— (1985). Arizona Territorial Officials Volume III: The Delegates to Congress 1863–1912. Cave Creek, Arizona: Black Mountain Press.  
  • Wagoner, Jay J. (1970). Arizona Territory 1863–1912: A Political history. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.  
  1. ^ a b c Goff 1985, p. 57.
  2. ^ Goff 1978, p. 39.
  3. ^ Wagoner 1970, p. 63.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Richard C. M'Cormick Dead". New York Times. June 3, 1901. p. 7. 
  5. ^ a b c Goff 1985, p. 58.
  6. ^ Wagoner 1970, p. 64.
  7. ^ Wurtz, Michael (September 24, 2000). "Arizona Territory mourned loss of governor's wife". Sharlot Hall Museum. 
  8. ^ a b Goff 1985, p. 67.
  9. ^ a b Goff 1978, p. 40.
  10. ^ Wagoner 1970, p. 38.
  11. ^ Goff 1978, p. 46.
  12. ^ Goff 1985, pp. 59-60.
  13. ^ Goff 1985, p. 62.
  14. ^ Wagoner 1970, p. 77.
  15. ^ Goff 1978, pp. 45-6.
  16. ^ Wagoner 1970, pp. 68-9.
  17. ^ Wagoner 1970, p. 76.
  18. ^ Wagoner 1970, pp. 64-5.
  19. ^ Goff 1978, p. 41.
  20. ^ Goff 1978, p. 42.
  21. ^ Goff 1985, p. 59.
  22. ^ Wagoner 1970, pp. 71-2.
  23. ^ Goff 1985, p. 60.
  24. ^ Goff 1985, p. 64.
  25. ^ Goff 1985, pp. 60-1.
  26. ^ Goff 1985, pp. 61,63.
  27. ^ Goff 1985, p. 63-4.
  28. ^ Goff 1985, p. 63.
  29. ^ a b Wagoner 1970, p. 84.
  30. ^ Wagoner 1970, p. 74.
  31. ^ Goff 1985, p. 68.
  32. ^ a b c d e Goff 1985, p. 72.
  33. ^ Leighton, David (September 10, 2013). "McCormick was Governor of Arizona when Tucson was the Capital". Arizona Daily Star. 


McCormick Street in downtown Tucson, Arizona, was named in honor of the former territorial governor and delegate.[33]

McCormick was offered ministries to Brazil in 1877 and Mexico in 1879, but declined both offers.[32] Instead he returned to New York City and settled in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. There he became involved in a number of business efforts, serving as president and/or director of several mining companies and trustee of a bank.[4] McCormick made unsuccessful runs for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1882 and 1886 before his election in 1894 to represent New York's first district for a single term.[32] McCormick died on June 2, 1901, at his house in Jamaica.[4]

After leaving office as Territorial Delegate, McCormick become a Commissioner of the Centennial Exposition.[4] This was followed by his Secretary of the Republican National Committee in August 1876 and his working in the U.S. Presidential campaign of Rutherford B. Hayes.[32] In 1877, McCormick was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.[4] This was followed by his being named United States Commissioner General to the Paris Exposition in November 1877.[32] At the end of his service as Commissioner, McCormick was appointed Commander, Legion of Honor, by the President of France in 1878.[4][32]

Later life

McCormick's opposition to President Grant's Indian "Peace Plan" allowed the delegate to win reelection to his third term without opposition.[29] The term also saw him win a number of reforms. Using an argument that qualified individuals were not applying to be territorial officials due to the cost of living exceeding the pay for various positions, he was able to have the pay for territorial legislators was raised to US$6 per day and territorial governor's pay raised to US$3000 per year.[30] He also succeeded in having administration of U.S. territories moved from the State Department to the Department of the Interior, with the transfer occurring on March 1, 1873.[8] McCormick also worked on a bill to restrict killing of American Bison except for use as food, legislation resolving citizenship issues of Mexican born residents of Arizona who lived in land acquired through the Gadsden Purchase, further expansion of mail routes, and criminalization of acts that damaged or destroyed parts of the new military telegraph system.[31] McCormick choose not to run for a fourth term.[29]

[28] and was totally blind for a short time. His right eye recovered, but the left was permanently lost.erysipelas During May 1871, while visiting his mother in New York, McCormick contracted [27]

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