His parents came the United States when Callicot was still a child, and settled at Fairfax, Virginia. He graduated from Delaware College, then studied law at Yale Law School and was admitted to the bar in New York City in 1847.
He lived with his wife Fitzina H. Callicot (1829-1867) at 158 High Street in Brooklyn when their one year old daughter Mary Fitzina died on April 17, 1852. Later they had another daughter Williamina Frederica (1854-1875).
In 1853, he published Hand-book of Universal Geography: Being a Gazetteer of the World (George P. Putnam & Co., 1853, 898 pages, on-line version).
In 1860, during the debate of black suffrage, he told the Assembly that "the proposition to put Negroes on a footing of political equality with white men is repugnant to the sense of the American people. They will never consent to share the proud title of 'American citizen' with an inferior and abject race."
In 1863, the New York State Assembly was tied, having 64 Republicans and Democrats each. The election of a Speaker proved to be difficult. During the stalemate, Callicot offered the Republican leader Chauncey Depew a deal: If the Republicans elect him Speaker, then Callicot would help the Republicans elect a U.S. Senator from New York. Depew accepted, and on January 26, Callicot was elected Speaker on the 89th ballot. Shortly afterward, the Democrats accused Callicot of improper proceedings to achieve his election as Speaker and started an investigation during which he was suspended from the speakership, and Depew was elected Acting Speaker. In April, Callicot was cleared of all accusations, and took his seat as Speaker for the remainder of the session.
At the next state election he was defeated for re-election to the Assembly.
In 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed him Customs Collector at Brooklyn, New York. In 1868, he was accused of "traffic in illegal liquor", and convicted. He was fined $10,000 and sent to prison for two years. After serving out his term at Albany Penitentiary, he continued to be detained there because he did not pay the fine, and was released only after a presidential pardon in December 1870.
In 1890, he had been the editor of the Albany Evening Times in Albany, New York, for more than 15 years, when Governor David B. Hill transferred the State Printing from the Albany Argus, a pro-Cleveland paper, to Callicot's paper. As the editor, Callicot had "carried on the business of political assassination, abusing the best and lauding the worst men of the Democratic Party. He has used the knife and hatchet freely upon such Democrats as Samuel J. Tilden, Daniel Manning, the Cassidys, Governor Lucius Robinson and President Grover Cleveland."
In 1896, he became the editor of the Albany Argus.
Henry Jarvis Raymond
|Speaker of the New
York State Assembly
Thomas G. Alvord