Lucius Robinson
26th Governor
1877–1879
Lucius Robinson (1810–1891) was known as a “guardian of the economy” when he served as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the State Assembly. During the Civil War, he served as New York State Comptroller. As governor, Robinson eased the tax burden and paid off the general debt by 1878. Committed to frugality, the only project for which he approved funding was the completion of the legislative and executive chambers in the State Capitol. Robinson was the first governor to deliver his annual address in the Capitol building.
Portrait: George Waters (1832–1912) first exhibited his work at the National Academy of Design at the age of 18. Though he maintained a studio in New York City for many years, he and his wife moved to Elmira, New York where he was the first director of the art department at Elmira College.

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Robinson, Lucius (b Windham, Greene Co, 4 Nov 1810; d Elmira,23 Mar 1891).Governor.

Educated in public schools,Robinson studied law at Delhi Academy (Delaware Co) and was admitted to the bar in 1832. After practicing law in Catskill (Greene Co), he became district attorney of Greene Co in 1837 and was master of chancery in New York City from 1843 to 1847. Robinson, a Democrat, was a prominent member of the 1848 Free-Soil Convention, and his strong antislavery views led him to join the newly formed Republican Party in 1856.He was elected to the state assembly in 1860 and as state comptroller in 1861 and 1863. Robinson returned to the Democratic Party after the Civil War. Voters elected him comptroller in 1875 and governor in 1876. A believer in budgetary frugality,Robinson’s overriding concern was easing the tax burden. The state general debt was paid off in 1878, leading to the lowest state tax rate in 16 years. Unhappy with cost overruns on the new capitol building in Albany, Robinson approved only enough funds to complete the legislative and gubernatorial chambers.

On 7 Jan 1879 he became the first governor to give his annual message to the legislature in the new building. After losing his bid for reelection later that year, Robinson retired to his farm outside Elmira.

Lincoln, Charles Z., ed. Messages from the Governors, vol 7 (Albany: J. B. Lyon, 1909)

Robinson, Col David C. “Life of Lucius Robinson.” In The Democratic Party of the State of New York, vol 2, ed. James K. McGuire (New York: US History Co, 1905)

Gerald Horton

Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 1315-16].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.

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