© 2016 University of Chicago Library
Hancock, Winfield Scott. Collection
0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Special Collections Research Center
Winfield Scott Hancock (1824–1886) was a career military officer in the US Army and the Democratic Party’s 1880 nominee for President. The collection contains fifteen letters written by Hancock, mostly to Samuel S. Cox, the US Representative from New York.
The collection is open for research.
When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Hancock, Winfield Scott. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
Winfield Scott Hancock was an officer in the US army and the Democratic nominee for the 1880 presidential race. Hancock was born on February 14, 1824 in Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania, to Benjamin Franklin Hancock, a public school teacher and lawyer, and Elizabeth Hoxworth Hancock. Hancock also had a twin brother, Hilary Baker Hancock.
Hancock began his education at Norristown Academy, a private preparatory school, but was moved to public schools when they arrived in Norristown in the 1830s. In 1840, Hancock was nominated by a local Congressman, Joseph Fornance, to attend the US Military Academy at West Point. Despite his eventual reaching of the rank of Major General, Hancock was an average student and graduated 18th out of his class of 25.
His role in the military spanned the majority of Hancock’s life. From his graduation from West Point in 1844 until his death in 1886, military service defined, in large part, Hancock’s activities and contributions to the nation. He participated, as a member of the infantry, or led, in his roles as officer of various rank, ten battles, which took place during both the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War. Of note, Hancock served as a corps commander at the Battle of Gettysburg. In a famous strategic move, Hancock sacrificed the 1st Minnesota regiment by sending it against a Confederate brigade. While the 1st Minnesota lost 87% of its men, the move bought time to organize the Union defensive line and secure a victory for the day.
During his military service, Hancock met a woman named Almira (Allie) Russell and married her on January 24, 1850, in St. Louis. Allie gave birth to two children: Russell, in 1850, and Ada, in 1857. Unfortunately, both children died before their parents.
After his wartime service in the military, Hancock continued his path of public service, carrying out the orders of President Johnson, followed by President Grant. Hancock’s political interest grew during his posting in New York, encouraging him to focus his ambition on the 1880 presidential election. Hancock received the democratic nomination, but lost to Republican candidate James A. Garfield.
Hancock continued his service both in the military, leading the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, a veteran organization, and in private life, becoming president of the NRA. Hancock’s service and participation in these groups continued until his death in 1886 in New York.
The collection contains fifteen letters written by Hancock from 1864 to 1884. Fourteen of the letters were sent to Samuel S. Cox, a member of the US House of Representatives from New York. These letters are arranged in chronological order. Included at the end of the collection is another letter from Hancock to Ebenezer S. Lane Jr., the son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice of the same name. Finally, there is a short, undated note regarding Hancock’s acceptance of an invitation by S.S. Cox. All the letters contained in the series are dated 1864-1884.
The collection was previously part of the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.
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