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Roswell P. Flower

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Roswell Pettibone Flower
30th Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1892 – December 31, 1894
LieutenantWilliam F. Sheehan
Preceded byDavid B. Hill
Succeeded byLevi P. Morton
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
March 4, 1889 – September 16, 1891
Preceded byWilliam B. Cockran
Succeeded byJoseph J. Little
Constituency12th district
In office
November 8, 1881 – March 3, 1883
Preceded byLevi P. Morton
Succeeded byOrlando B. Potter
Constituency11th district
Personal details
Born(1835-08-07)August 7, 1835
Theresa, New York
DiedMay 12, 1899(1899-05-12) (aged 63)
Eastport, New York
Political partyDemocratic
Parent(s)Mary Ann and Nathan Monroe Flower

Roswell Pettibone Flower (August 7, 1835 – May 12, 1899) was the 30th Governor of New York from 1892 to 1894.


He was born on August 7, 1835, to Nathan Monroe Flower and Mary Ann Flower, the sixth of nine children. As a youth, he worked in odd jobs, which enabled him to cover the cost of his education at a local village school. He graduated from high school in 1851, and for a short period thereafter he worked as a teacher in a district school.[1]

In 1853, he became Deputy Postmaster of Watertown, New York, at a salary of $600 a year, and after six years had saved $1,000 and opened with a partner a jewelry store. Two years later, he bought his partner out and continued in this business until 1869.

In 1869, Henry Keep, a former President of the New York Central Railroad, was dying and asked Roswell Flower, whose wife was a sister of Keep's wife Emma, to manage the $4,000,000 estate for his widow. Flower asked Keep for guidance on who he could trust and named a business associate, Daniel Drew. Keep replied, "He is as honest a man as there is in the State of New York, but for fear that somebody else will cheat, he will always begin first."[2] The business brought Flower to New York City where he became known as a shrewd financial administrator and opened the banking house of R. P. Flower & Co.

He was elected as a Democrat to the 47th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Levi P. Morton upon his appointment as Minister to France, and served from November 8, 1881, to March 3, 1883. He was also elected to the 51st and 52nd United States Congresses, and served from March 4, 1889, to September 16, 1891, when he resigned upon his nomination for Governor.

He was Governor of New York from 1892 to 1894, elected in 1891, the last one to serve a three-year term. During his term, he signed into law the creation of the City of Niagara Falls.

In the years after his term as Governor, Flower gained a reputation as a canny investor and as such he attracted the attention of traders and investors from across the United States. As a result of this strong following, Flower possessed an extraordinary capability to influence market sentiment. His aggressive move on Brooklyn Rapid Transit drove the share price of this company from $6 to over $130 a share in a relatively short period of time. The dramatic rise of this stock was widely credited with triggering the bull market that ran from 1898 to 1899.[3]

Flower was president of the New York State Agricultural Society in 1899.[4]

He died of a heart attack on May 12, 1899, in Eastport, New York, at the Long Island Country Clubhouse.[5] His death disrupted the planned purchase by a consortium of investors, including Flower and W.H. Moore, of the steel-related holdings of Andrew Carnegie about a year and a half before J.P. Morgan purchased the same interests in the deal that formed U.S. Steel.[6]


A monument to Flower, designed by noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1902, is located on lower Washington Street at Watertown. It is in the Public Square Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.[7] The Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library was built in 1903-04 as a memorial to Flower. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.


  1. ^ Redmond, George. Stock Market Operators. London, 1924, pg.62
  2. ^ Murlin, Edgar L. The New York Red Book - an Illustrated Legislative Manual. Albany: James B. Lyon, 1895, p. 78.
  3. ^ Redmond, George. Stock Market Operators. London, 1924, pg.66
  4. ^ "NYS Agricultural Society". NYSAS Past Presidents (2019). Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  5. ^ "Roswell P. Flower Dies Suddenly. Ex-Governor Succumbs to Heart Disease at Eastport, L.I. Had Gone on Fishing Trip. Taken Ill Yesterday Afternoon and Died at 10:30 o'Clock P.M. The Second Attack Proved Fatal. Doctors Arrived on a Special Train. The Widow Prostrated". New York Times. May 13, 1899. Retrieved 2011-05-12. Ex-Gov. Roswell P. Flower died here suddenly at 10:30 o'clock to-night of heart disease. He was at the Country Clubhouse, where he usually spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of every week during the Spring and Summer, resting and enjoying the fishing.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of New York
Succeeded by
David B. Hill
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Chairman of Cornell Board of Trustees
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 13 November 2021, at 20:31
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