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William C. Bouck
13th Governor
1843–1844
William C. Bouck (1786–1859) was Sheriff of Schoharie County and a member of both the New York State Assembly and Senate. He served on the Erie Canal Commission and earned the nickname “White Horse Bouck” for the white horse he rode to bring pay to the workers at the canal’s western end. He lost the gubernatorial election in 1840 before winning in 1842. Governor Bouck activated the militia to quell an anti-rent riot in Columbia County. After losing the nomination in 1844, he served on the State Board of Regents and later as Assistant United States Treasurer.
Portrait: Francis B. Carpenter (1830–1900) was born in Homer, New York. In 1852, he was commissioned to paint a portrait of President Millard Fillmore, who hailed from nearby Cayuga County. Other commissions followed the Fillmore portrait, including his most famous: “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln,” which is displayed in the United States Capitol.

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Bouck, William C. (b Fultonham, Schoharie Co, 7 Jan 1786; d Schoharie Co, 19 Apr 1859).Governor.

With little formal education, Bouck entered public life at an early age.After serving as county sheriff (1812), he became a state assemblyman (1814–16, 1818), state senator (1820–21), and canal commissioner (1821–40). Though Bouck was defeated in the 1840 governor’s race, the debate over canal expansion and state debt relief motivated the Democrats to nominate him again in 1842. Without incumbent governor William H. Seward in the race, Bouck, who favored canal expansion and had the support of both the conservative and radical factions of the Democratic Party, won convincingly. His governorship was marked by calling out the militia in response to the developing antirent movement.

Perceived as a weak candidate for reelection during a presidential election year, he was not renominated and instead served on the Board of Regents (1846–49) and as a constitutional convention delegate (1846). After serving as assistant US treasurer in New York City (1846–49), he retired to his farm in Fulton (Schoharie Co).

Alexander, De Alva Stanwood. A Political History of the State of New York, 4 vols (1906; repr Port Washington, NY: I. J. Friedman, 1969)

John Marino

Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 201].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.

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