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Azariah C. Flagg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Azariah Cutting Flagg
Azariah Cutting Flagg-restored.jpg
10th New York State Comptroller
In office
February 7, 1842 – December 31, 1847
Preceded byJohn A. Collier
Succeeded byMillard Fillmore
In office
January 11, 1833 – February 4, 1839
Preceded bySilas Wright
Succeeded byBates Cooke
11th Secretary of State of New York
In office
February 14, 1826 – January 12, 1833
GovernorDeWitt Clinton
Nathaniel Pitcher
Martin Van Buren
Enos T. Throop
William L. Marcy
Preceded byJohn Van Ness Yates
Succeeded byJohn Adams Dix
Personal details
Born(1790-11-28)November 28, 1790
Orwell, Vermont
DiedNovember 24, 1873(1873-11-24) (aged 82)
New York City, New York
Political partyRepublican
Free Soil
Spouse(s)Phoebe Maria Cole
Alma materUnion College
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1812–1814
Battles/warsWar of 1812

Azariah Cutting Flagg (November 28, 1790 – November 24, 1873) was an American newspaper printer and editor, and politician.

Early life

Azariah Flagg was the second son of Ebenezer Flagg (1756–1828) and Elizabeth Cutting Flagg (d. 1838). At age eleven, he took five-year apprenticeship in 1801–1806 with his uncle, who was a printer in Burlington, Vermont. After learning and starting practicing trade as journeyman printer, he decided to try his fortunes in Plattsburgh, New York, where he arrived in October 1811. He married Phoebe Maria Cole in October 1814; she gave birth to two daughters, Martha Maria, and Elizabeth, and a son, Henry Franklin.[1] Flagg joined the Clinton County militia, and during the War of 1812 fought in the 36th Regiment of the New York Militia of the Major General Benjamin Mooers' militia division.

War of 1812

On September 5, 1814, Flagg became a militia lieutenant in a small scouting detachment of teenage boys from the Plattsburgh Academy raised by captain Martin James Aikin (1791-1828). Underage soldiers were called the Aiken’s volunteers since they were too young to enlist, and captain's name as their sponsor was recorded instead in a muster roll.[2]

General Alexander Macomb praised the Aiken's Volunteer Rifle Company for not falling back in disorder with the bulk of Mooers' militia during the first encounters with the British invading force in the Battle of Plattsburgh.[3][4] Following retreat, Aiken's volunteers manned the bank of the Saranac River to prevent the enemy from crossing it; one boy was killed in the resulting skirmish. After the British started their withdrawal from Plattsburgh, the Aiken's volunteers were disbanded. In 1826, Congress awarded each of them, including Flagg, "one rifle, promised them by General Macomb, while commanding the Champlain Department, for their gallantry and patriotic services as a volunteer corps during the siege of Plattsburgh. On each of which said rifles there shall be a plate containing an appropriate inscription."[5][6]


In 1811–1813, Flagg published The Republican in Plattsburgh while Colonel Melancton Smith, Jr. (1782-1818) provided the editorship. From Spring 1813 to 1826, he was the sole publisher and editor of the renamed Plattsburgh Republican. His war record and Republican's readership made him popular in the county, and Flagg was elected from Clinton County to the New York State Assembly in 1823 and 1824.

He was elected Secretary of State of New York in 1826, and re-elected in 1829. By the virtue of his office, he also served as Superintendent of Common Schools and Commissioner of the Canal Fund and the Canal Board. Despite his limited schooling, Flagg was able to fulfill his duties as he was self-educating himself through life.

He was elected New York State Comptroller in 1833, a post he held in 1833–1839, and from 1842 to 1847, both times for two terms.[7] In 1839, Van Buren, being a president, appointed Flagg as Postmaster at Albany; he kept the job until 1841. Van Buren recommended him in 1844 to newly elected James K. Polk as a candidate for secretary of the treasury office, but to no avail. After finally losing the state comptroller's position, Flagg became president of the Hudson River Railroad Company, was a treasurer of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad and served on several railroad boards. Flagg's final political office was New York City Comptroller, in which capacity he served in 1852–1858. He retired in November 1858 after developing blindness.

During his long political career, he began as a member of the Bucktails faction of the Democratic-Republican Party, then became a Jacksonian, a Democrat and Barnburner, then joined the Free Soilers in the late 1840s, and finally the nascent Republican Party in the mid-1850s.[8] He was one of the leading members of the Albany Regency, who exercised a great deal of control over New York's Republican Party, along with Van Buren, Silas Wright, and William L. Marcy.[9] In a curious encounter, Flagg was introduced to Alexis de Tocqueville in Albany in 1831, and invited him to walk during the 4th of July parade with the state dignitaries.[10] Tocqueville left a mixed review of the event.[11]

Flagg suffered blindness in his both eyes during his last fourteen years of life, but managed to keep track of the public affairs with the help of his family. He continued to publish in newspapers on political and economical issues, including finances and transportation. He died in his home in New York City and was buried at the Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.[12]


  1. ^ John Niven. Flagg, Azariah Cutting. American National Biography Online. February 2000. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  2. ^ Keith A. Herkalo. (2012) The Battles at Plattsburgh, September 11, 1814. History Press. Charleston, S. C.
  3. ^ Fitz-Enz, D. G., & Elting, J. R. (2001). The final invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812's most decisive battle. New York: Cooper Square Press.
  4. ^ Capt. Martin Aiken led boy soldiers against British, The Press-Republican, September 14, 2014
  5. ^ Peter Sailly Palmer. History of Lake Champlain: From it First Exploration by the French in 1609, to the close of the year 1814. Albany, N.Y., 1866.
  6. ^ City of Plattsburgh to dedicate Bridge Street Bridge, The Sun, May 17, 2015.
  7. ^ Weed, Parsons and Co. The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough, 1858, pp. 33, 34 and 273.
  8. ^ Obituary, The New York Times, November 26, 1873 (giving wrong birthplace)
  9. ^ Sheppard, S. (2008). The partisan press: A history of media bias in the United States. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co.
  10. ^ Pierson, G. W. (1996). Tocqueville in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  11. ^ Brogan, H. (2009). Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of democracy in the age of revolution. London: Profile.
  12. ^ Funeral, The New York Times, November 29, 1873.

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
John Van Ness Yates
Secretary of State of New York
Succeeded by
John Adams Dix
Preceded by
Silas Wright
New York State Comptroller
Succeeded by
Bates Cooke
Preceded by
John A. Collier
New York State Comptroller
Succeeded by
Millard Fillmore
This page was last edited on 26 October 2020, at 18:53
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