Augustus Schell

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Augustus Schell
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
In office
Preceded byAugust Belmont, Sr.
Succeeded byAbram S. Hewitt
Collector of the Port of New York
In office
Preceded byHeman J. Redfield
Succeeded byHiram Barney
Chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee
In office
Personal details
BornAugust 1, 1812
Rhinebeck, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 27, 1884 (aged 71)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseAnna Mott Fox
RelationsRichard Schell (brother)
Edward Schell (brother)
Parent(s)Christian Schell
Elizabeth Hughes
Alma materUnion College
Litchfield Law School
A younger Schell as Collector of the Port of New York

Augustus Schell (August 1, 1812 – March 27, 1884) was a New York politician and lawyer. He was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1872 to 1876.

Early life[edit]

Schell was born on August 1, 1812, in Rhinebeck, New York. He was the son of Christian Schell (1779–1825), a merchant,[1] and Elizabeth (née Hughes) Schell (1783–1866).[2] He was the brother of U.S. Representative Richard Schell (1810–1879), Robert Schell (1815–1900), and Edward Schell (1819–1893), who were well-known business men of New York City.[2]

His paternal grandparents were Richard Schell and Anna (née Schultz) Schell.[2]

He was educated at Rhinebeck Academy and Wesleyan Seminary. He was graduated in 1830 from Union College with Phi Beta Kappa honors and membership in the Kappa Alpha Society,[3] and then studied at Litchfield Law School.[4]


He was admitted to the bar in 1833,[1] and started a practice in New York City at the firm of John Slosson (1806-1872), later a judge of the New York Superior Court;[5] he formed a firm (Slosson & Schell) with Slosson in 1842.[6] He started out as an early expert in the then new field of corporate law and through his profession became active in railroad management. A friend of Cornelius Vanderbilt, he gradually expanded his railroad connections through investments as well as legal counsel.[6]

He was a director in many railroad and financial corporations, including the Harlem Railroad, Lake Shore and Michigan Central, and Hudson River Railroads as well as the Western Union Telegraph Company. He was also active in the management of philanthropic institutions, including 19 years as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the New-York Historical Society.[4][7]

Political career[edit]

An active Democrat, he joined Tammany Hall in 1852 where, after William M. Tweed's fall, he succeeded August Belmont, Sr. as Grand Sachem in 1870.[8] He was head of the Democratic state committee from 1853 to 1856. In the 1852, he was proposed as the Democratic candidate for Governor of New York, although he lost the nomination to Horatio Seymour, who was elected Governor.[4]

During the administration of President James Buchanan, he was collector of the Port of New York.[9]

He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee that supported John C. Breckinridge for the presidency in 1860 and also from 1872 to 1876,[10] where he managed Horace Greeley's presidential campaign.[11] In 1872, his name was again put forth for the nomination for Democratic candidate for Governor, but he was prevented by the work of Samuel Jones Tilden, who was then the Chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee.[6] After the trial of William M. Tweed and his associates, Schell became the Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall and labored for the purification and rehabilitation of the Tammany society.[12] In 1878, he was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Schell was married to Anna Mott Fox (1827–1905), the daughter of George Shotwell Fox and Rebecca Leggett Fox.[13] At his death, he was worth several million dollars, but having had no children, he left all of his money to his nieces and nephews,[6] except for $200,000 in cash and his home at 9 West 34th Street in New York City to his wife, the aunt of Austen George Fox.[14]

He died on March 27, 1884,[11] from Bright's disease.[15][16][17] He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.[18]


Augustus Schell is the namesake of Schell City, Missouri, of which he was one of the original proprietors.[19]


  1. ^ a b "Augustus Schell (1812–1884)". New-York Historical Society. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York: History, Customs, Record of Events, Constitution, Certain Genealogies, and Other Matters of Interest. V. 1-. Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York. 1905. p. 138. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Kappa Alpha Catalog committee (1892). A Record of the Members of the Kappa Alpha Society and a City and Town Directory, 1825–1913. Cayuga Press. p. 21. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events. D. Appleton & Company. 1888. p. 611. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  5. ^ Schell, Francis (1885). Memoir of the Hon. Augustus Schell. Privately printed for family distribution.
  6. ^ a b c d "Augustus Schell | Litchfield Ledger - Student". Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  7. ^ "The Historical Society and "Gus" Schell". The New York Times. January 10, 1873. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  8. ^ The American Almanac, Year-Book, Encyclopædia and Atlas, 1904, p. 187
  9. ^ "Eulogizing Augustus Schell". The New York Times. March 29, 1884. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  10. ^ "General Politics; the Presidential Campaign. Mr. Schell's Visit to Washington and the Result of It He Takes the Campaign into His Own Hands". The New York Times. January 31, 1876. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Lossing, Benson John; Wilson, Woodrow (1915). Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History from 458 A.D. to 1915. Harper Bros. p. 104. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  12. ^ "Resuscitating Tammany.; Installation of the New Grand Sachem His Address a Committee of Reorganization". The New York Times. February 21, 1872. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "Died. Schell". The New York Times. January 7, 1905. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  14. ^ "Augustus Schell's Heirs.; Liberal Bequests to the Members of His Family". The New York Times. April 15, 1884. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  15. ^ "Augustus Schell Still Alive". The New York Times. March 24, 1884. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  16. ^ "Augustus Schell's Condition". The New York Times. March 25, 1884. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  17. ^ "Augustus Schell Dying". The New York Times. March 23, 1884. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  18. ^ "Funeral of Augustus Schell.; Many Distinguished Persons at the Services at the House". The New York Times. March 30, 1884. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  19. ^ Eaton, David Wolfe (1918). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 369.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
New York State Democratic Committee Chairman
1853 – 1856
Succeeded by
Preceded by Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall
1870 – 1876
Succeeded by
Charles H. Haswell
Preceded by Democratic National Committee Chairman
1872 – 1876
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Collector of the Port of New York
1857 – 1861
Succeeded by