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New York state election, 1851

The 1851 New York state election was held on November 4, 1851, to elect the Secretary of State, the State Comptroller, the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the State Engineer, a Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, a Canal Commissioner and an Inspector of State Prisons, as well as all members of the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate.


  • Background 1
  • Results 2
  • Contested election 3
  • Sources 4
  • Notes 5
  • See also 6


The Democratic state convention met on September 10 at Syracuse, New York. The Whig state convention met on September 11 at Syracuse, New York. Horace Wheaton, candidate for Canal Commissioner, was the sitting Mayor of Syracuse, New York.


Six out of eight state offices were won by the Democrats, the most important ones by margins of a few hundred votes out of about 400,000 cast. The incumbent Chatfield was re-elected. The incumbents Seymour, Foot and Wells were defeated.

Six Democrats and four Whigs were elected to the district benches of the New York State Supreme Court.

1851 state election results
Office Democratic ticket Whig ticket
Secretary of State Henry S. Randall 199,426 James C. Forsyth[1] 198,582
Comptroller John C. Wright 200,790 George W. Patterson 200,532
Attorney General Levi S. Chatfield 200,205 Daniel Ullmann 199,973
Treasurer Benjamin Welch, Jr. 200,465 James M. Cook 200,693
State Engineer William J. McAlpine 203,032 Hezekiah C. Seymour 199,301
Judge of the Court of Appeals Alexander S. Johnson 201,144 Samuel Alfred Foot 197,823
Canal Commissioner Horace Wheaton 200,231 Henry Fitzhugh 201,147
Inspector of State Prisons Henry Storms 202,801 Alexander H. Wells 198,578

Contested election

The Whig candidate James M. Cook was declared elected State Treasurer with a majority of only 228 votes, but Attorney General Chatfield contested the result in the New York Supreme Court in favor of Welch, claiming that ballots with a name similar to that of the candidate Benjamin Welch, Jr., had been counted as "scattering" but had been intended for Welch. In fact the official state canvass shows ballots for "Benjamin Welch" in Chemung (68), Kings (1), Saratoga (1) and Tompkins (47), "B. Welch" in Chenango (1), Livingston (1) and New York (1), "B. J. Welch" in Livingston (1), and "Benjamin C. Welch, Jr." in Ontario (32); a total of 153. On the other side, the official canvass also shows votes for "J. M. Cook" in Kings (1), "J. W. Cook" in Livingston (2), "Cook" in New York (2), "James Cook" in Saratoga (1), "James A. Cook" in Suffolk (15) and "John M Cook" in Yates (1), a total of 22. Besides, votes from several election districts were disallowed on technicalities (49 for Welch and 24 for Cook in Chesterfield, Essex County, New York; 332 for Welch and 66 for Cook in the second election district of the 14th Ward in New York City). On September 30, 1852, the election result was reversed by the Supreme Court, but Cook refused to deliver the office and the books. Welch sued for the delivery of the books, but the motion was denied. After some more legal proceedings, Welch took office as Treasurer for the remainder of the term on November 20, 1852.


  • Result in OFFICIAL STATE CANVASS in NYT on January 1, 1852
  • Harpers New Monthly Magazine (June-November 1851, pages 693ff)
  • The People vs. James M. Cook in Reports of Cases in Law and Equity in the Supreme Court of the State of New York by Oliver Lorenzo Barbour (Gould, Banks & Gould, 1853; pages 259 to 328)
  • Welch agt. Cook in Practice Reports in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals by Nathan Howard & Rowland M. Stover (Joel Munsell, 1852; pages 173 to 181)


  1. ^ "Death of James C. Forsyth Confirmed" (PDF).  

See also

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