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Stephen B. Cushing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stephen Booth Cushing
New York State Attorney General
In office
January 1, 1856 – December 31, 1857
Preceded byOgden Hoffman
Succeeded byLyman Tremain
Member of the New York State Assembly
In office
January 1, 1852 – December 31, 1852
Preceded byEbenezer S. Marsh
Succeeded byBenjamin G. Ferris
Personal details
BornJanuary 1812
Pawling, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 9, 1868(1868-06-09) (aged 56)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Mary Woodcock
(m. 1836; his death 1868)
ParentsMilton Foster Cushing
Fanny Nicholas Cushing
Alma materWilliams College
OccupationLawyer, politician

Stephen Booth Cushing (January 1812 – June 9, 1868) was an American lawyer and politician.

Early life

Cushing was born in Pawling in Dutchess County, New York in January 1812. He was the posthumous son of Milton Foster Cushing (1787–1811) and Frances "Fanny" (née Nicholas) Cushing (1788–1848) and grew up in Dover, New York.[1]

He graduated from Williams College in 1832.[2]


After studying law with David Woodcock, he was admitted to the bar in New York in 1835, and began practicing in Ithaca, New York.[2] Shortly thereafter, he became law partners with former U.S. Representative Charles Humphrey, remaining so until Humphrey became clerk of the Supreme Court of New York in Albany.[1] In 1843, he went into partnership with his brother-in-law, Benjamin G. Ferris,[3] until he became Attorney General in 1855.[1]

Political career

He was a Democratic member from Tompkins County of the New York State Assembly in the 75th New York State Legislature, serving from January 1 to December 31, 1852.[4]

He was New York State Attorney General from 1856 to 1857, elected on the American Party ticket.[5] While he was Attorney General, he was the prosecutor in the trial of Emma Cunningham for the murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, a prosperous dentist in New York City in 1857. The case is considered one of the most famous cases in the American Victorian-era.[6]

Later career

Afterwards he removed to New York City and practiced law there in partnership with Daniel E. Sickles, a former U.S. Representative who served as the United States Minister to Spain after Cushing's death.[7] Sickles had gained notoriety in 1859, when he murdered his wife's lover, Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key, across the street from the White House.[8]

Personal life

In 1836, he married Mary Woodcock (c. 1815–1868), a daughter of Cushing's former law teacher, Democratic-Republican U.S. Representative from New York, David Woodcock.[2] Mary's sister, Elizabeth Cornelia Woodcock, was married to Cushing's law partner, Benjamin G. Ferris.[9] Together, Stephen and Mary were the parents of:[10]

  • Ferris Cushing (1840–1869), who served in the U.S. Civil War.[11]
  • Mary W. Cushing (1843–1911)
  • Charles Humphrey Cushing (1847–1917), who became a member of the Producers' Petroleum exchange.[12]

According to Cushing's Williams obituary, "there were few more popular orators in western New York, and as an after-dinner speaker he probably had no equal. Of a genial and enthusiastic nature few men ever enjoyed a wider degree of personal popularity."[1]

Cushing died in New York City on June 9, 1868.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Durfee, D.D., Rev. Calvin (1875). Williams Obituary Record of the Alumni. North Adams, MA: James T. Robinson & Sons, Printers and Binders. pp. 114–115. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Stephen B. Cushing | New York Legal History / Antebellum, Civil War, & Reconstruction: 1847-1869". The Historical Society of New York Courts. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  3. ^ Burns, Thomas W. (1904). Initial Ithacans: Comprising Sketches and Portraits of the Forty-four Presidents of the Village of Ithaca (1821 to 1888) and the First Eight Mayors of the City of Ithaca (1888 to 1903). Press of the Ithaca Journal. p. 51. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  4. ^ Hough, Franklin Benjamin (1858). The New York Civil List: Containing the names and origin of the civil divisions, and the names and dates of election or appointment of the principal state and county officers from the Revolution to the present time. Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Co. p. 36. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ "American Party ticket" (PDF). The New York Times. October 18, 1855. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  6. ^ Clinton, Henry Lauren (1897). Celebrated Trials. Harper & Brothers. pp. 1–22. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  7. ^ Lawson, John Davison. American State Trials: A Collection of the Important and Interesting Criminal Trials which Have Taken Place in the United States, from the Beginning of Our Government to the Present Day, Vol. 5, Thomas Law Books, (1916); pgs, 90, 94.
  8. ^ "Assassination of Philip Barton Key, by Daniel E. Sickles of New York". Hartford Daily Courant. March 1, 1859. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  9. ^ History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties, New York: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Everts and Ensign. 1879. p. 403. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  10. ^ Cushing, James S. (1979). The Genealogy of the Cushing Family: An Account of the Ancestors and Descendants of Matthew Cushing, Who Came to America in 1638. Helen Grant Cushing. pp. 243–244. ISBN 9780960358809. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  11. ^ Assembly, New York (State) Legislature (1912). Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York. E. Croswell. p. 652. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  12. ^ "CHARLES H. CUSHING OF BRADFORD IS DEAD". Buffalo Evening News. 12 May 1917. p. 20. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Ebenezer S. Marsh
New York State Assembly
Tompkins County, 2nd District

Succeeded by
Benjamin G. Ferris
Legal offices
Preceded by
Ogden Hoffman
New York State Attorney General
Succeeded by
Lyman Tremain
This page was last edited on 22 January 2020, at 20:49
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