5. Roscoe Conkling’s Untimely Death in the Great White Hurricane of 1888


After Conkling fell out with Arthur over Civil Service reform, he went back to practicing law in New York City. On Monday March 12, 1888, Roscoe Conkling left his office and headed home for the final time. Due to the weather, Conkling hailed a cab to reach his destination at the Hoffman House on Madison Square and Twenty-Fifth Street. To Conkling’s chagrin, the cabbie demanded fifty dollars. Rather than pay the exorbitant  fare, Conkling decided to walk the two and one half miles back to his home. When he reached Union Square, he took an ill advised short cut through the Park. There, he fell into a snowbank and was buried up to his armpits.

After twenty minutes, Conkling managed to free himself and make it to the front door of the New York Club, mere feet from his intended destination, where he collapsed. One month later, he died, becoming the Great Blizzard of 1888‘s most famous victim. Five years later, Conkling’s friends petitioned the Mayor and Parks Board to erect a sculpture of him in Union Square Park. Their request was denied because the officials did not believe that Conkling belonged alongside the likes of Washington, Lincoln, and Lafayette. However, they did allow a statue of him to be erected in Madison Square Park.

Next, read more about The Great White Hurricane of 1888.