ALONZO B. CORNELL, the thirtieth governor of New York, was born in Ithaca, New York on January 22, 1832. His education was attained at Ithaca Academy. As a teenager, he worked as a telegraph operator, and eventually became the vice president and director of the Western Union Telegraph Company. He also was a successful steamboat owner and banker. Cornell first entered politics as an unsuccessful candidate for the lieutenant governorship in the 1868 election. From 1870 to 1878 he chaired the New York Republican State Central Committee; and in 1873 he served as a member and speaker of the New York House of Representatives. He also served as the surveyor of customs in New York City, a post he held from 1876 to 1878. Cornell next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 4, 1879. During his tenure, a women’s reformatory in Hudson was organized; a state railroad commission was initiated; a state board of health was formed; women qualified for positions as school officers; and a corporation state tax law was sanctioned. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Cornell retired from political life. Governor Alonzo B. Cornell passed away on October 15, 1904, and was buried in the Sage Chapel at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.