Theophilus C. Callicot

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Theophilus Carey Callicot[1] (1826 – November 28, 1920) was an American lawyer, newspaper editor and politician.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Cornwall, England, and came with his parents to the United States as a child. The family settled at Fairfax, Virginia. He graduated from Delaware College, then studied law at Yale Law School and was admitted to the bar in New York City in 1847.

He lived with his wife Fitzina H. Callicot (1829–1867) at 158 High Street in Brooklyn at the time of the death of their one-year-old daughter Mary Fitzina in 1852. Later they had another daughter, Williamina Frederica (1854–1875).

In 1853, he published Hand-book of Universal Geography: Being a Gazetteer of the World (George P. Putnam & Co., 1853, 898 pages, on-line version).

State Assembly[edit]

He was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly in 1860 (Kings Co., 3rd D.) and 1863 (Kings Co., 5th D.).

In 1860, during the debate of black suffrage, he told the Assembly that "the proposition to put Negroes on a footing of political equality with white men is repugnant to the sense of the American people. They will never consent to share the proud title of 'American citizen' with an inferior and abject race."[2]

In March 1861, Callicot assisted Mitchell Sanford to defend Assemblyman Jay Gibbons at the latter's trial before the Assembly on charges of bribery. After Sanford's unexpected death on March 29, Callicot pleaded on behalf of Gibbons until the latter was expelled by the Assembly on April 3.

In 1863, the New York State Assembly was tied, having 64 Republicans and Democrats each. The election of a Speaker proved to be difficult. During the stalemate, Callicot offered the Republican leader Chauncey M. Depew a deal: If the Republicans elect him Speaker, then Callicot would help the Republicans elect a U.S. Senator from New York. Depew accepted, and on January 26, Callicot was elected Speaker on the 92nd ballot. Shortly afterward, the Democrats accused Callicot of improper and corrupt proceedings to achieve his election as Speaker and a Select Committee was appointed to investigate. On April 20, the Assembly adopted the majority report of the Select Committee, declaring Callicott "entirely innocent."[3]

At the next state election he was defeated for re-election to the Assembly.

Federal office[edit]

In 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed him Customs Collector at Brooklyn, New York. In 1868, he was accused of "traffic in illegal liquor", and convicted. He was fined $10,000 and sent to prison for two years. After serving out his term at Albany Penitentiary, he continued to be detained there because he did not pay the fine, and was released only after a presidential pardon in December 1870.[4]

Newspaper editor[edit]

In 1890, he had been the editor of the Albany Evening Times in Albany, New York, for more than 15 years, when Governor David B. Hill transferred the State Printing from the Albany Argus, a pro-Cleveland paper, to Callicot's paper. As the editor, Callicot had "carried on the business of political assassination, abusing the best and lauding the worst men of the Democratic Party. He has used the knife and hatchet freely upon such Democrats as Samuel J. Tilden, Daniel Manning, the Cassidys, Governor Lucius Robinson and President Grover Cleveland."[5]

In 1896, he became the editor of the Albany Argus.


  1. ^ The name is often written Callicott in contemporary newspaper accounts, but in the letter he sent to Secretary of State Lansing in 1918 he signed his name with only one t.
  2. ^ [1] Google book = Craig Steven Wilder: A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn (Columbia University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-231-11907-0)
  3. ^ Journal of the Assembly (1863; pg. 1137ff)
  4. ^ Notice in the Putnam County Courier of Carmel, New York on December 10, 1870.
  5. ^ [2] NYT on January 2, 1890.


  • [3] The transfer of the State printing contract, with Callicot's curriculum, in NYT on January 2, 1890.
  • [4] Proceedings in the case against Callicot and John S. Allen, in NYT on May 23, 1868.
  • Stamford Mirror Newspaper - June 30, 1896 Issue - Delaware County, NY at Transcription of Stamford Mirror of Stamford, New York, edition of June 30, 1896, mentioning Callicot's takeover of the Argus.
  • [5] The papers of Isaiah Thornton Williams, at NY Public Library.
  • [6] Obit of daughter Mary Fitzina, in NYT on April 19, 1852.
  • Mr. Lincoln and New York at Circumstances of his election as Speaker on Mr. Lincoln and New York.
  • [7] The end of the "Callicot Investigation", in NYT on April 18, 1863.
  • [8] Speaker election, in NYT on January 27, 1863.
  • Samuel Austin Allibone (1859). A Critical Dictionary of English Literature, and British and American ... Trübner & co. A Critical Dictionary of English Literature, and British and American Authors, Living and Deceased, from the Earliest Accounts to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century: Containing Thirty Thousand Biographies and Literary Notices, with Forty Indexes of Subjects compiled by Samuel Austin Allibone (page 148; Trübner & Co., 1859)
  • [9] Death notice in State Service: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Government of the State of New York and Its Affairs ed. by James Malcolm (State Service Magazine Co., Inc.) [The site states it is a 1917 edition, but the text says: "...1863, fifty-seven years ago..." which dates the death in 1920. The 1917 year must be wrong anyway since he was alive in 1918 and sent a letter from Germany.]

External links[edit]

New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Harmanus B. Duryea
New York State Assembly
Kings County, 3rd District

Succeeded by
Nathan Comstock
Preceded by
Charles L. Benedict
New York State Assembly
Kings County, 5th District

Succeeded by
John C. Perry
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry J. Raymond
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Thomas G. Alvord