The 96th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 7 to May 30, 1873, during the first year of John A. Dix's governorship, in Albany.
Under the provisions of the New York Constitution of 1846, 32 Senators and 128 assemblymen were elected in single-seat districts; senators for a two-year term, assemblymen for a one-year term. The senatorial districts were made up of entire counties, except New York County (five districts) and Kings County (two districts). The Assembly districts were made up of entire towns, or city wards, forming a contiguous area, all within the same county.
In his annual message to the 95th Legislature, Gov. John T. Hoffman suggested that a bi-partisan Constitutional Commission of 32 members should be formed. The Commission had four members from each judicial district, appointed by the Governor, and confirmed by the State Senate, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The Constitutional Commission met on December 4, 1872.
At this time there were two major political parties: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. A faction of the Republican Party assumed the name of Liberal Republican Party and nominated a fusion ticket with the Democrats, supporting Horace Greeley for President. The Democratic/Liberal Republican state ticket had Francis Kernan (D) for Governor and Chauncey M. Depew (LR) for Lieutenant Governor.
The New York state election, 1872 was held on November 5. Republicans John A. Dix and John C. Robinson were elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The other three statewide elective offices up for election were also carried by the Republicans. The approximate party strength at this election, as expressed by the vote for Governor, was: Republicans 446,000 and Democrats/Liberal Republicans 392,000.
The Legislature met for the regular session at the Old State Capitol in Albany on January 7, 1873; and adjourned on May 30.
Alonzo B. Cornell (R) was elected Speaker with 91 votes against 35 for John C. Jacobs (D).
William B. Woodin (R) was elected President pro tempore of the State Senate.
On January 21, the Legislature re-elected U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling (R) to a second six-year term, beginning on March 4, 1873.
The Constitutional Commission adjourned sine die on March 15, 1873. The proposed amendments to the Constitution were then debated by the Legislature, and those approved were submitted to the voters for ratification at the next state elections. At the New York state election, 1873, the voters were asked if the Judges of the Court of Appeals, and the County Judges throughout the State, should be appointed instead of being elected, which was answered in the negative.
The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued in office as members of this Legislature.
Note: Palmer, Harrower and Allen had been elected as Republicans in 1871, but had joined the Liberal Republicans in 1872, and were barred from the Republican caucus.Clerk: Charles R. Dayton
Assistant Doorkeeper: James Franklyn Jr.
Stenographer: H. C. Tanner
The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued as members of this Legislature.Clerk: John O'Donnell
Assistant Clerk: Samuel P. Allen
Sergeant-at-Arms: Edward M. Goring
Doorkeeper: Eugene L. Demers
Journal Clerk: Edward M. Johnson