John T. Hoffman

23rd Governor, 1869-1872
John T. Hoffman

Prior to his election as governor, John T. Hoffman (1828–1888) served as mayor of New York City. As governor, Hoffman signed legislation to create the American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He ordered protection for marchers during New York City’s Orange Riot, a violent conflict between Irish Protestants and Catholics in which more than 60 people were killed. Hoffman’s association with the corrupt boss of the Tammany Hall political machine, William M. Tweed, hastened the end of his political career.
John T. Hoffman
About the Artist


Jacob H. Lazarus (1822–1891) was born in New York City and studied painting under William Inman. During his 40-year career, Lazarus received portrait commissions from many prominent Bostonians and New Yorkers, including three generations of the Astor family.

On loan from the Albany Institute of History & Art. Permanent Deposit by the City of Albany.


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From the Encyclopedia of New York State

Hoffman, John T(hompson) (b Sing Sing [now Ossining, Westchester Co], 10 Jan 1828; d Wiesbaden, Germany, 24 Mar 1888). Governor and New York City mayor.

A Union College graduate, Hoffman was admitted to the bar in 1849 and established a practice in New York City. A Tammany Hall Democrat, he was elected city recorder in 1860 and presided over the draft riot trials before becoming mayor of New York City (1865–68). He was picked by Tammany boss William M. Tweed to be the 1866 Democratic gubernatorial candidate as part of Tweed’s unsuccessful attempt to gain statewide political control. He won the governorship in 1868, again running with Tweed’s endorsement, through an election widely viewed as corrupt. As governor he ordered protection for marchers during New York City’s Orange Riots and signed legislation creating the American Museum of Natural History.

Reelected in 1870 and mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for the 1872 election, his political career was curtailed by Tweed’s downfall. Retired from politics in 1872, he resumed practicing law and traveled abroad.


Hoffman Island, located east of Staten Island, is named after him.

Stebbins, Homer Adolph. A Political History of the State of New York, 1865–1869 (1913; repr New York: AMS Press, 1967)

John Marino


Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 724].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.