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Alton Brooks Parker

Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
In office
1898 – 1904
Preceded by Charles Andrews
Succeeded by Edgar M. Cullen

Born May 14, 1852(1852-05-14)
Cortland, New York
Died May 10, 1926 (aged 73)
New York City
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater Albany Law School
Profession Lawyer

Alton Brooks Parker (May 14, 1852 – May 10, 1926) was an American lawyer and judge and the Democratic nominee for U.S. president in the 1904 elections.



Parker was born in Cortland, New York. He graduated LL.B. from Albany Law School and practiced law in Kingston, New York. He was a justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1885 to 1897, and Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1898 to 1904. Parker was a protege of conservative Democratic politician David B. Hill.

Parker/Davis campaign poster

Parker resigned from the bench after receiving the 1904 Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. presidency. He chose former U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Henry G. Davis to be his running mate for the office of Vice President of the United States. At that time, Davis was 80 years old, and is the oldest person ever nominated for either vice president or president by a major party in American history. Parker was supported by conservative Bourbon Democrats, like former President Grover Cleveland, who had been alienated from the party in 1896 and 1900 due to the radicalism of the party's nominee William Jennings Bryan on economic issues. It was hoped that Parker could be acceptable to both factions since he was "sound" on economic issues, but had supported Bryan in 1896 as a good party man. These hopes were frustrated, however, as Parker had little appeal to Bryanites and carried only the Solid South. Division within his party over currency issues and the popularity of incumbent Theodore Roosevelt led to Parker's landslide defeat. Afterwards he resumed his practice of law.

Parker later served as a temporary chairman and keynote speaker at the 1912 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Woodrow Wilson for President[1].

He died from a heart attack while riding in his car through Central Park in New York City.[2]

In his 1943 book They Also Ran, about defeated presidential candidates, in the chapter on Judge Parker, author Irving Stone stated that Parker was the only defeated presidential candidate in history never to have a biography written about him. Stone theorized that Parker would have been an effective president and the 1904 election was one of a few in American history in which voters had two first-rate candidates to choose from. Stone professed that Americans liked Roosevelt more because of his colorful style[3].

Parker's birthplace, Cortland, New York, has a public elementary school named for him.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has a portrait of Judge Parker by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Muller-Ury (1862-1947) painted in 1904 and donated by Parker's wife in 1926 hanging at the Senate House State Historic Site at Kingston, New York.

Electoral history


New York state election, 1897

Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals

  • Alton B. Parker (D) - 554,680 (50.94%)
  • William J. Wallace (R) - 493,791 (45.34%)
  • Theodore F. Cuno (Socialist Labor) - 20,854 (1.92%)
  • Francis E. Baldwin (Prohibition) - 19,653 (1.81%)

1904 Democratic National Convention[4]:

United States presidential election, 1904:


  1. ^ Our Campaigns - US President - D Convention Race - Jun 25, 1912
  2. ^ Obit in NYT on May 11, 1926 (subscription required)
  3. ^ Stone, Irving. They Also Ran, 2nd edition. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
  4. ^ Our Campaigns - US President - D Convention Race - Jul 06, 1904

Further reading

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles Andrews
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
1898 – 1904
Succeeded by
Edgar M. Cullen
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Jennings Bryan
Democratic Party presidential candidate
Succeeded by
William Jennings Bryan


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