Cole, Cornelius 1822-1924

views updated

COLE, Cornelius 1822-1924


Born September 17, 1822, in Lodi, NY; died of pneumonia November 3, 1924, in Los Angeles, CA; son of David and Rachael (Townsend) Cole; married Olive Colegrove, 1853 (died, 1918); children: Seward, Schuyler, George T., Emma Brown, Lucretia Waring, Mrs. Reginald H. Jones, Mrs. James G. McLaughlin. Education: Attended Ovid Academy, Lima Seminary, and Hobart College; Wesleyan University, B.A., 1847; studied law in Auburn, NY, 1848, and at law offices of William R. Seward. Politics: Republican. Religion: Methodist.


Politician and lawyer. Admitted to the Bar of New York State, 1848; gold miner in California, 1849-c.50; practiced law in San Francisco, CA, 1850-51, and in Sacramento, CA, beginning 1852; Sacramento Daily Times, editor, began 1856; Republican National Committee, elected member, 1856-60; City and County of Sacramento, district attorney, 1859-62; U.S. House of Representatives, at-large representative from California, 1863-65; U.S. Senate, senator from California, 1867-73, chairman of Committee on Appropriations, 1871-73; practiced law in California, 1873-c.1922. Central Pacific Railroad Company, Sacramento, organizer. Military service: Union Army, commissioned as a captain, 1863.


Sons of the American Revolution, Republican Party.


Honorary LL.D., Wesleyan University, 1923.


Speech of Hon. Cornelius Cole, of California, on Arming the Slaves. Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 18, 1864, McGill & Witherow (Washington, DC), 1864.

Speech of Hon. Cornelius Cole, of California, on the China Mail Bill, Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 16, 1865, 1865.

Australian Mail Line: Speech of Hon. Cornelius Cole, of California, Delivered to the U.S. Senate, July 9, 1870, 1870.

Income Tax: Speech of Hon. Cornelius Cole, of California, Delivered January 26, 1871, 1871.

Annexation of Dominica: Speech of Hon. Cornelius Cole, of California, in the Senate of the United States, April 19, 1871, Congressional Globe Office (Washington, DC), 1871.

Speech of Senator Cole, on Pending Railway Legislation, Delivered at Platt's Hall, San Francisco, 1872, 1872.

California Three Hundred and Fifty Years Ago: Manuelo's Narrative, Translated from the Portuguese, by a Pioneer, Samuel Carson (San Francisco, CA), 1888.

Memoirs of Cornelius Cole, Ex-Senator of the United States from California, McLoughlin Brothers (New York, NY), 1908.

Ideals in Verse, Times-Mirror Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1924.

Numerous other brief congressional and senatorial speeches by Cole were issued as pamphlets by the Congress and its printers during his years in Washington.


When Cornelius Cole, a former Republican senator from California, died in 1924, the mayor of Los Angeles, George E. Cryer, said at Cole's funeral: "No man had been more closely identified with the city of Los Angeles for so many years than Senator Cole. To meet and talk with him about his early experiences in public affairs was like reading a lively chapter from the history of the past, for he could recount many interesting occurrences of the days of the Lincoln Administration, and the stirring periods preceding the Civil War."

Cole, a New York lawyer, first came to California during the gold rush of 1849. Unlike many other miners, Cole actually found gold, and with the proceeds he built himself a law office in San Francisco. When the law office burnt down in 1851, Cole relocated to Sacramento—which would become the capital of California in 1854—and opened another practice. Two years later, Cole became the first Californian to serve on the national committee of the newly formed Republican Party. He went on to serve in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War, and in 1863 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. During those years Cole became a friend of and adviser to the country's first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Cole returned to Washington, D.C., as a senator after the 1866 elections. He only served one term, but for part of it he chaired the powerful Committee on Appropriations. After Cole lost his re-election bid in 1872, he returned to California and resumed his law practice. He bought a ranch in Hollywood in 1881 and until age 100 he commuted daily to his law office in Los Angeles.



Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1989, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1989.

Cole, Cornelius, II, Senator Cornelius Cole and the Beginning of Hollywood, Crescent Publications (New York, NY), 1980.

Hart, James D., A Companion to California, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Johnson, Rossiter, editor, The Twentieth-Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Biographical Society, 1904.

Lanman, Charles, Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States During Its First Century, from Original and Official Sources, James Anglim (Washington, DC), 1876.

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, James T. White & Co. (New York, NY), 1932.

Phillips, Catherine Coffin, Cornelius Cole, California Pioneer and U.S. Senator, J. H. Nash (San Francisco, CA), 1929.

Preston, Wheeler, American Biographies, Harper & Brothers (New York, NY), 1940.

Spalding, William A., History of Los Angeles, City and County, California, J. R. Finnell & Sons (Los Angeles, CA), 1931.

Wilson, James Grant, and John Fiske, editors, Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, D. Appleton (New York, NY), 1888-89.


Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1999, Richard Simon, "Few Remember Cornelius Cole but the Name Lives On," p. A13.


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present, (March 8, 2003), "COLE, Cornelius, 1822-1924."

Political Graveyard, (March 8, 2003).



Los Angeles Times, November 4, 1924, part 2, p. 2.*