William F. McCombs

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William McCombs
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
In office
July 15, 1912 – June 15, 1916
Preceded byNorman E. Mack
Succeeded byVance C. McCormick
Personal details
William Frank McCombs

(1876-12-26)December 26, 1876
Hamburg, Arkansas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 22, 1921(1921-02-22) (aged 44)
Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)

William Frank McCombs (December 26, 1876 – February 22, 1921) was an American lawyer and politician who served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1912 to 1916.

Early life and education[edit]

McCombs was born on December 26, 1876, in Hamburg, Arkansas. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University in 1898 and a Bachelor of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1901.[1]


McCombs was associated with the law firm of McCombs & Ryan in New York City. McCombs also worked as an advisor to Woodrow Wilson during the 1910 New Jersey gubernatorial election later managed Wilson's successful campaign during the 1912 Democratic Party presidential primaries.[2] Once nominated, Wilson made him chairman of the Democratic National Committee and essentially his "campaign manager." In 1913, McCombs was offered the position of United States ambassador to France, but turned it down for financial reasons.[3][4]

McCombs came to oppose Wilson's leadership style and use of power, criticizing him as autocratic.[5] McCombs was also displeased at Wilson for refusing to offer him a Cabinet position.[6]

McCombs was the Democratic nominee in the 1916 United States Senate election in New York but was defeated by Republican William M. Calder.

Personal life[edit]

In poor health, McCombs died in Greenwich, Connecticut, on February 22, 1921, leaving behind an incomplete memoir, which was published as Making Woodrow Wilson President.[7] He was buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.


  1. ^ Scott, Robert Carl (1985). "William McCombs and the 1912 Democratic Presidential Nomination of Woodrow Wilson". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 44 (3): 246–259. doi:10.2307/40025864. ISSN 0004-1823. JSTOR 40025864.
  2. ^ "MCCOMBS, ENGINEER OF THE WILSON LOCOMOTIVE; The Young Princetonian Made Such a Success as Campaign Manager of the Democratic Presidential Nominee That at 36 He Finds Himself a National Figure". The New York Times. 1912-07-07. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  3. ^ "McCOMBS ACCEPTS MISSION.; Chairman Decides to Take Post Which He at First Refused". The New York Times. 1913-03-18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  4. ^ "MEN FOR DIPLOMATIC POSTS.; McCombs Urged to Accept -- Talk of Osborn Page and Morgenthau". The New York Times. 1913-03-06. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  5. ^ "DENIES PRESIDENT IS LEADER OF PARTY; William F. McCombs Attacks Wilson's "Autocratic Assumption of Authority."ACCEPTED BY 'DAZED NATION'Ex-Democratic Chairman DeclaresLeague Question Is for Presidentand Senate to Settle". The New York Times. 1920-06-22. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  6. ^ "William McCombs (1875–1921)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  7. ^ McCombs, William Frank (1921). Making Woodrow Wilson President. Fairview Publishing Company.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Democratic National Committee
Succeeded by
First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New York
(Class 1)

Succeeded by