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William Sulzer Letters

An inventory of his correspondence at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Mar 1989

Biographical History

William Sulzer (1863-1941) was a New York politician, lawyer, governor and congressman. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1895-1912 and as Governor of New York in 1913. An advocate of political reform, Sulzer campaigned for governor of New York as the "unbosses" candidate, and after his election in 1913 quickly ran afoul of Tammany Hall's Charles F. Murphy. In a letter to Eugene V. Brewster, Sulzer writes (8 Mar 1913):

Letters like yours are the real incentive to a public official to do his duty to all the people as he sees is, regardless of personal consequences. That is what I am determined to do.
Of course you know if I had acceded to the ultimatum issued by the gentleman to whom you refer, I would have been praised to the skies. But I listened to my conscience instead. That is all there is to it, and I must submit patiently to malicious abuse.

Facing impeachment in the same year he became Governor, Sulzer writes to Everett P. Wheeler (7 Jul 1913):

When the bosses found out they could not control me, and make a rubber stamp of me, they threatened to destroy me politically, and have been doing everything in their power to that end.
However, I have no fear of the ultimate result. The truth will prevail, and right makes might. I am in the fight to stay, and to the end.

Stung by his impeachment and an ignominious end to his political career in 1916, when the Prohibitionists declined to make him their presidential candidate, Sulzer writes a few months before his death to George A. Zabriskie, President of the New-York Historical Society (9 Jun 1941):

All of this data and material is not only exceedingly personal but is extremely historical, and I know some day writers and historians will be going over it to get the facts -- and facts are important in writing history and historical books.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Sulzer Letters is a collection of 40 letters, mostly outgoing, which were written between 1898 and 1941. Nearly half are from 1912-1913, a few of which (Eugene Brewster, Everett Wheeler) refer to Tammany Hall and the impeachment proceedings against then-Governor Sulzer.

The collection also contains a series of 11 incoming letters in connection with a dinner given by Sulzer in honor of Congressman Perry Belmont, among them a single letter from John McDonald to Belmont which contains extracts of regrets from those unable to attend the ceremony.

Arrangement of the Collection

Letters are arranged chronologically. At the end of this finding aid is an alphabetical index to correspondents.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bailey, Joseph Weldon, 1863-1929.
Belmont, Perry, 1850-1947.
Brewster, Eugene Valentine, 1869-
Burleson, Albert Sidney, 1863-1937.
Crimmins, John D. (John Daniel), 1844-1917.
Garnett, John J.
Johnston, Joseph Forney, 1843-1913.
Kennedy, Crammond, 1842-1918.
Lenroot, Irvine Luther, 1869-1949.
Levy, Florence Nightingale, 1870-1947.
Martine, James E. (James Edgar), 1850-1925.
Pilgrim, Charles Winfield, 1855-
Rice, William Gorham, 1856-
Sulzer, William, 1863-1941.
Tillman, Benjamin Ryan, 1847-1918.
Wheeler, Everett Pepperrell, 1840-1925.
Zabriskie, George Albert, 1926-

Corporate Bodies

Democratic Party (N.Y.)
Tammany Hall.


Governors, New York (State)
Legislators, United States.
Political parties, New York (State), History, Sources.


New York (State), History, 1865-
New York (State), Politics and government, 1865-1950.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William Sulzer Letters
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence

Outgoing letters written by Sulzer are indicated with an asterisk (*)