He completed preparatory studies and was graduated from the University of the City of New York (now New York University) and, in 1845, from New York University School of Law.
He was admitted to the bar the same year, but never practiced law. Instead, he engaged in mercantile pursuits in New New York He was active in various public offices:
school commissioner, 1856–1860;
state senator, 1858 and 1859;
county supervisor, 1860–1870;
commissioner of public instruction, 1867;
Democratic Representative to the Forty-second Congress, March 4, 1871 - March 4, 1873.
"not" a candidate for renomination in 1872;
Representative to the Forty-fourth Congress, March 4, 1875, to the date of his resignation, December 11, 1876.
Chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury. And
mayor of New York in 1877 and 1878.
In 1895, he was appointed commissioner of parks and served until 1897, when he retired from public life. In 1911, he died in Livingston, Essex County, New Jersey, where he was interred in a private cemetery on his farm.